“Full-day visits to Agastya's science centre are stimulating for our students. When they return to school they are full of questions, curiosity, and want to know more about scientific principles.”
- P. Murali, science teacher from Zilla Parishad High School, a government-run school in Aremanapenta
A resource hub brimming with scientific wonders
Throngs of primary school students hop off the school bus, each and every one bursting with excitement to visit the science centre that their teacher had long promised to take them to. As they enter the room filled with curious gadgets and apparatus, their excitement instantaneously transforms into eagerness and they sprint off to the various sections – Science, Mathematics, Ecology, and the Solar System – to learn and explore.
Be it the captivating solar system model that rotates at a speed proportionate to the planets in the universe; or the simple optic kit box that can demonstrate up to 16 types of light phenomena, the hands-on methodologies at the Agastya Science Centres aim to help students and teachers learn and retain important concepts in a fun and unique way. By fostering curiosity, critical thinking and creativity, Agastya hopes to eradicate the problems of rote-based learning and high dropout rates in government schools. In doing so, Agastya also aims to improve the content and quality of education for underprivileged children and rural teachers.
“Today, we are going to learn about the properties of air!” says Sunitaj, addressing her class of 25 higher primary school students seated obediently on the cement floor. In contrast to Sunitaj’s enthusiam, her pupils exchanged wide-eyed and puzzled looks: How were they possibly going to learn about something that they could not even see?
Undeterred, Sunitaj deftly takes the class through the first experiment to learn about the weight of air. She instructs her students to fill up two balloons with roughly the same volume of air before hanging them on a balance scale. The scale is then adjusted till both sides balance out. Next, Sunitaj gets one of the students to burst one of the balloons and – immediately – the scale tips towards the side with the balloon still intact! Exclaiming in unison, the students are awed at how the experiments in their textbooks have come to life right in front of their very eyes!
Taking the chance to build on this momentum, Sunitaj proceeds to conduct the remaining experiments and soon, the entire Science Centre reverberates with the shouts of students scrambling to ask and answer questions…
This is the reason why Sunitaj loves her job. She feels a sense of accomplishment whenever the class gets rowdy because it shows that students are learning through active participation. “It is a signal that the students are inquisitive about things and actively asking questions instead of just taking in information passively.” Indeed, this is an apt reflection of Agastya’s mission to induce curiosity in children.
A myriad of programs for anyone and everyone
Of course, the Science Centre is not only a showcase for experiments – it also houses Agastya’s teacher training centres, special training activities, learning programs and summer camps.
Programs held at the Science Centres include:
- Science fairs
- Young Instructor Leader (YIL) Program
- Teacher training
Reaching out to the rural community
The Science Centre functions as a hub at which experiments are exhibited for students and teachers from nearby localities to visit. At the same time, the Mobile Lab vans act as spokes, reaching out to students and teachers in more remote areas.
Since the establishment of the first Science Centre, Agastya’s centres have generated close to 8,000 student exposures yearly, training about 80 teachers in the process. Through experiments and activities, Agastya provides a strong and dynamic learning resource base for local schools, complementing the national education system in a low-cost and effective manner.
What are you waiting for? Visit the Science Centre closest to you today!