An experience of teaching Science in KGBV Taswaria
This was my first attempt at teaching science. It was a very hard decision for me because I have not received higher education in science. In fact I am a science drop out. Almost all the KGBV (Kasturba Gandhi Balika Vidyalay) teachers are facing the same situation. The teacher who is teaching science in KGBV Taswaria is not a trained science teacher. All the teachers in this KGBV come from arts background. After all, if these teachers can teach science then why can’t I? This encouraged me.
The girls wanted help on the topic of ‘Cell’ which is part of their curriculum. I accepted to take up this topic in the classroom. I saw the text book. There was some basic information about the Cell. I could transact this information to the girls easily. But it did not energize me. I refused to be just a pipeline between the subject and the students. I was seeking to know more around the topic which would give me conceptual understanding and clarity.
I accessed some knowledge from the existing materials in the office library and the Internet. The Cell was the entry point of my journey. Through this, suddenly I felt that I was pushed into an ocean of micro organisms where I saw the microbes come near each other and become the essential part of life which we see around us. Friendship and encounter with ‘bacteria’ and ‘cell’ changed the structure of cells. The Cells were getting shapes, and these cells were constructing our body. This journey taught me a lesson that co-existence was the core of the beginning of life on the earth. Why then today there is a big problem of co-existence in the world?
A new research reveals that bacteria are in the process of becoming Organelles. This process has taken millions of years. From single-cell organism to unicellular organism, this journey of evolution was a fascinating story for me. Suddenly I remembered Giju Bhai. He taught all the subjects through stories. I thought that if I put this history of cell evolution in front of the girls, in the form of a story, they would be fascinated.
I eagerly reached the KGBV. The Teachers were equipped with all the materials which were required. There were three Microscopes. Two microscopes were recently provided by Save the Children and one was older. The teachers, girls of class 8th and I came to the courtyard. There was enough sunshine which was helpful to work with the microscope and to relieve us from cold. We put the microscopes on a table in the centre of the courtyard and got some readymade slides from the science kit. We tried to set the slides into the microscopes but we failed several times. But we didn’t stop making efforts. We cleaned the lenses. There was no change. What could be done... finally we exchanged the lens of microscopes and adjusted them. Suddenly someone shouted, “I can see, there is something appearing” It was a slide of a Red Blood Cell. One by one all the slides began to be seen in the microscope- Animal cell, plant cell unicellular, multi cellular, Amoeba, hydra and bacteria. The girls could see with the magical expansion of a million times. Rows of girls began to come behind the microscopes waiting for their turn. They had to draw whatever they had seen. So they observed every slide carefully and tried to see again and again. For the first time they saw such vivid and colourful images which they had never seen before with their naked eyes. It is noteworthy that all of us, that is the teachers, students and I, had touched the microscope for the first time. We were happy because we had succeeded.
After observation we assembled again to discuss. There was no need to disclose the subject. Girls had already heard about the Cell. I directly asked the girls, “What is a cell?” girls replied, “Kisi Jeev Ki Sukshmtam Jeevit Sanrachna ko Koshika Kahte Hain.” By this response of the girls I came to understand what was needed to be done. This answer came from the textbook and had been memorized without comprehension. The challenge for me was –
· How would the girls understand the subject going beyond the text book?
· would they be able to relate their existing knowledge on this topic and build upon it within their own context
· What could be the process of building a scientific temperament?
· Finally how can they link the issue with the other branches of knowledge like History, Literature, language and arts?
After a little discussion I narrated the story of human evolution and the development of the theory of the Cell. I told the girls how life evolved on the earth. It took millions of years. In the beginning, life was in the unicellular form; gradually it converted to multi cellular. It also took millions of years. Simultaneously we talked about development of microscope – how it developed from single lens to light based microscope to electronic microscope. We are able to see the hidden organelle in cytoplasm with the help of the electronic microscope.
After storytelling the girls were given the task to search more about the subject in a scientific manner. Three groups were made. Girls had to do their work as follows –
· How did the theory of the Cell evolve?
· What are the functions of a cell?
· How have humans benefited by the discovery of the cell?
The girls had to present their work the next day. They could access knowledge from library books, text books, internet, and take help from the warden and teachers. We had kept a condition that the presentation shouldn’t be in prose only, it should be imaginary and in an artistic manner. It could be in whatever form they wanted.
I had to leave the school premise by 5 pm as male teachers cannot stay in the school in the evening.
Next day as I entered the KGBV I saw the girls doing their work. Yesterday’s group work extended to the mini groups and individuals. Girls were working individually and after finishing they discussed in their group; then they went to the teacher for suggestions. Books were spread all over the floor in the classroom. Girls were bent over these books with curious eyes.
One group of girls was working as an editor board. They were compiling the project work with the help of the warden. They had determined the order of the content. After compilation the girls showed the Project. It seemed aesthetically pleasant. Its cover was also very beautiful. They put the title on it and drew a picture of a plant cell in the background as a water mark.
The story inside was articulated differently. They used several literary forms to express their thoughts.
Comics :As we flip the first page we can see the girls opened the issue with comic characters. Through this comic strip, two girls were talking about their mother’s illness. In the conclusion they tried to convey that all kind of illnesses happen due to some mishappening in the cells. They also ended the project in comic book style. There were two sheep conversing with each other. One of them was ‘Dolly’ which was cloned in a laboratory with genetic modification. In the comic Dolly invited another lamb on her birthday. The girls told the entire story of Dolly’s life.
Poem :Girls created 4-5 poems related to the issue. Their manifestation was so effective. Have a look –
Koshika ka hua kamal
Charon aur kar diya dhamal
Robert huck ne kiya anokha kaam
Hua vigyan ka vishv me naam...
Koshikaen jab hoti hamse naraz
Chhodna padta hamko sukh-saaz...
Koshika hai paadap me
Koshika hai jantu mein...
Koshika ke teen ghatak
Kaam karte vah jhatak ....
Koshika hai apne sath
Har bimari mei uska haath
Koshika ka jab hue dimaag kharaab
Kar dete hamko bhi kharaab.....
Sabse badi koshika shaturmurg ka anda
Shareer mein yadi shanti ho to
Koshika ka dimag rahta hai thanda....
Conversation :Comparing and contrasting are critical science skills. Usually in every chapter of science, there is an exercise for these skills. An exercise was also given in this lesson.
Comparison of Plant Cell and Animal Cell
Exercise which is given in the text book
The girls did this exercise in the form of a conversation -
Plant Cell : I’ve both, a ‘Cell membrane’ and a ‘Cell’ wall, what do you have?
Animal Cell : I also have a cell membrane. But what does your cell wall do?
Plant Cell : My cell wall protects my cell membrane.
Animal Cell : Good!
Plant Cell : I have a vacuole, do you also have it?
Animal Cell : I also have vacuoles.
Plant Cell : your vacuoles are so small but I’ve got a big one. I also have chloroplasts.
Animal Cell : I don’t need it. Please tell me, what is the function of your chloroplasts?
Plant Cell : They provide green colour to the leaves. Chlorophyll in the chloroplasts of leaves is essential for photosynthesis.
We can see the difference between the two. Girls made that exercise alive using their imagination. This will help them to build sustainable knowledge in the future.
Drawing and painting:
Girls made lots of drawings. Images related to science are very hard to draw. But the girls made them very colourful. These pictures seemed closer to reality. Girls enjoyed the exercise of drawing and painting.
Cartoons and caricatures :They made many cartoons and caricatures to make their project attractive and learning joyful. They made cartoons of the teacher and girls showing them observing the slides in the microscope.
Along with all these things they designed a crossword puzzle which was based on this topic.
During the whole process, the teachers and I felt confident in teaching science even though none of us were actually trained to teach this subject. This made us realise that anybody can teach anything provided one has the will. Girls enjoyed learning because they got a free hand to try different innovative techniques. This whole demonstration was an example of learning together- of girls and facilitators. We taught only the chapter of the cell but girls touched other lessons which were prescribed in their text book- Micro Organism and reproduction. They had also broken the walls of just sticking to the subject of Science, and touched other subjects like Language and Social Science. Overall this demonstration excited the teachers as well as those wish to try this technique in teaching other subjects too.