Monday, 23 December 2013

School Science Fair

After a couple of weeks of  very hard work, the science exhibition at the school got done. The 5th class children had done some charts........leaves, flowers and fruits in and around their campus. The 6th and 7th had a little more ambitious projects. Of these, a few worked quite hard while some children expected me to do it all for them and thought they just had to stand there and talk a bit. Of the few good ones was this 5th class boy who did some work for ALL the projects. He helped build the clay mountain with hidden  funnel and tube for the hydel plant, he built the  volcano with a hidden bottle for the soda volcano, he made a car with a cardboard carton for a balloon driven car,  he helped me with the solar oven and with my first unsuccessful biogas plant. I was very impressed with this little boy. There were others who did well too. One project that I did not even have to touch was the "Braino"....made totally by a 6th class  boy.  I just had to explain how the connections were to be made. After a couple of false starts, he got it right.
There was this girl who had heard about chromatography  and insisted on doing it. I tried to discourage it since I did not feel I could explain to them the principle behind it well enough for a 6th class child to understand. Finally, I used a strip of paper kitchen towel and separated green ink using water as mobile phase. The girl who had made a model of a solar oven and the boy who had made a model hydel did an excellent job of explaining what  their model was about.
My saviours in this whole episode were two young women who were studying for their MPharm. They had a break while they were waiting for some company to organise their internship. They helped me with some of the work, specially in view of my miserably inadequate Telugu, they could translate  what I said to make the younger kids understand.

Friday, 6 December 2013

Dropping out of MOOCs

I am the kind of person who works very hard when compelled to - I need deadlines or some such pressure to work hard. But, if someone told me that there was this rewarding work that  I could do if I wished to, it would never get done.
So, when I registered for a couple of Coursera courses, I told myself that I must see these through and prove to myself that I can motivate myself without external pressures. Guess what- I haven't completed the courses. No surprise.
But it is almost everyone- not just me. There is a  90% dropout by one estimate.  
"Some users -- including stay-at-home parents or retirees -- may sign up for the same reason they do a Sunday crossword puzzle, said Yvonne Belanger, the head of assessment and planning for the Center for Instructional Technology at Duke University.
But I swear my reason for enrolling is not the same as that common to the retirees mentioned here.
I was really interested in the courses, but somehow day to day chores always go up on my list of priorities.


When I was a child, festivals were fun. They were about good food, perhaps new clothes, some token praying (from the kids' point of vie...