This young man is shaping up the future innovators through ‘LIFELAB’
In the clutches of the competitive world, the prevailing Indian education system has lost its incomparable uniqueness of innovative curriculum and teaching methodologies which showcased a holistic understanding of topics. The conventional teaching approach adopted by the teachers has not only muted children’s opinion and blocked their thinking abilities, but has also narrowed their imagination and confined their potentials and talents. Children who find themselves unable to adapt to this rote learning mechanism, under-perform in classrooms and examinations, and consequently lose confidence and hope.
But wait, perhaps all are not over yet! 36,500 children studying in 76 schools spread across 4 states of the country experience a completely different environment at school each day. For them, school is not a place of attending long lectures and doing assignments as per the teachers’ instructions; instead, it is a place of having fun and playfully learn the subjects of their interests. To them, the various disciplines are not merely confined within textbooks with long theoretical description and subjective exercises. For them, learning is far beyond all this. Unlike the students who run away from subjects involving complex concepts, the students from these 76 schools find the subjects with incomprehensible concepts the most interesting and fascinating. What makes these students do wonders in these subjects is an exclusive science lab started by Lewitt Somarajan, a postgraduate from Tata Institute of Social Sciences, Mumbai.
I ventured into the education sector and tried various innovative approaches to improve the pedagogy during the two years of the fellowship period at ‘Teach for India’. It was then in 2012, this lab was born as a brainchild in Pune, a ‘Lab’ that gives ‘LIFE’ to the thoughts, vision and potential of numerous students, remarkably justifying its name LIFELAB, says Lewitt Somarajan.
Unlike a typical lab, which adorns test tubes, beakers, working platforms, complicated instruments and tools, this special science lab provides mobile, operational, functional, thematic and interactive design based models which are prototypes of the real scientific models. These models are used for explaining the different phenomena which they learn through texts. The fact that they can physically see whatever they are reading in the books makes it far more fascinating and interesting. Not only this, the lab also enables students to put their very knowledge into application by facilitating them with innovatively designed ‘Do it yourself’ kits. Using these, the children do hands on experiments, explore and come up with their own perspectives on the complicated scientific concepts. These DIY kits enable students to find a factual and demonstrable relevance and assurance of what they read and learn.
The innumerable features of this lab also include a component for the teachers, consisting of innovative teaching methodologies to the beneficiary students. The effective implementation of these methodologies by the teachers is what ultimately brings the impact. Hence, the lab provides teachers a booklet and also conduct teachers’ training to train them on the approaches of facilitating the science lab models and DIY kits in the class. As a result, the lab vouches for the huge learning outcome, it produces in every student learning through it.
Through all these ground breaking features, the lab gives the students a platform for fun and experiential learning where children are provided wider dimensions to learn, explore, question and find out the answers. It is a model which promotes self sustainable learning, a model which showcases that science is fun and playable rather than being complex; a model that makes children believe that no subject is as difficult to learn as it is thought of and subtly bringing them the confidence that ‘I CAN’.
This article was originally published in The Optimist Citizen – India’s first purely positive newspaper.