Lab in a Box (LIB)
Since its inauguration, Agastya has been sparking curiosity and spreading creativity through exposing the rural community to hands-on experiments. In a bid to strengthen efforts of inculcating a scientific temper in the teachers and students, the Lab in a Box program was introduced in 2011 in succession to established Agastya programs: mobile lab vans and science centres (amongst others). The aforementioned programs laid the foundation by introducing hands-on experiential learning to schools all around Karnataka state and beyond.
Rural students and teachers acquaint with Agastya’s simple yet effective low-cost science models mainly through mobile lab van visits to schools, or during regular school visits to various Agastya science centres (click on the links to understand more about the respective programs). After which, LIB models are brought into schools to intensify the interactive hands-on learning experience.
What is distinctive of Lab in a Box (as compared to its predecessors) is its teacher-focused philosophy. LIB was developed with the intent of empowering school teachers and encouraging them to take charge of hands-on learning. This is how it works: Agastya instructors will provide the initial training for teachers to familiarize themselves with the models, after which teachers are given the reigns to completely take charge of how they are going to utilize the models. In this way, teachers have the freedom and flexibility to modify the models to suit their own teaching styles accordingly. Besides, this approach of giving teachers more autonomy will infuse a creative temper in teachers as they learn to be more pro-active in designing lessons, such as creating and teaching using their own models instead of following the traditional chalk-and-talk methods. This also allows for continuity in teaching methods even after the LIB models and Agastya mobile labs leave the school.
This framework also makes the inculcation of hands-on learning more sustainable, given the increase in impact and practical exposure of the experiments despite the lower cost incurred for the LIB program. Results from a pilot project done in Karnataka state in 2011 proved this theory. As compared to the mobile lab, the intensity of LIB involvement in schools were much higher as trained teachers could explain the models to their students for the entire one to three weeks the box was in the school, as compared to a short afternoon visit by the mobile van. Number of concepts covered within the same time frame also increased consequentially.
Students intrigued by the captivating LIB models
It is with great enthusiasm and hope that as school teachers start to take initiative and ownership of their lessons gradually, transformative education would become a reform starting from within the school (as opposed to from an external source like Agastya).
Click on the following links to find out more about Lab in a Box (LIB)!