The concept of workshops and fairs with children in Math and Science in schools was piloted in Solan in March-April 2015. During the same year, this model was implemented in Bilaspur with certain modifications under the name “Prayas” which benefited 12000 Children of 252 schools under the leadership of Sate Project Office, Sarv Shiksha Abhiyaan. The effort was later implemented in Paonta Sahib and Majra blocks of District Sirmour benefiting 5200 children of 56 schools. The program framework was same in both the districts.
The Program Objective of Prayas model in District Bilaspur and Sirmaur was to impact interest levels of students and popularize Science and Math as subjects. Focus was kept on the following points:
- Cooperative learning and self-learning through exploratory activities.
- Contextualization-connecting Science/Math with daily life to the extent possible.
- Understanding, explaining concepts and processes to peers and others
The program was divided into two major components as described below:
Pre –Fair Workshop: During the workshop, children were made to sit into sub-groups of 3-5. Children worked on one or two topics every day in groups.They were asked to perform experiments and make models on given topics.
Children were encouraged to work in groups, observe and explore surroundings and perform experiments.Every experiment was followed by one on one and group discussions. During workshop days, as homework, children were asked to read associated textbook chapter or reading material for each topic covered.
Also, children wrote or drew pictures of each experiment and model in their own words in their notebooks.
Fairs: Post the workshop, fair were organized in which a team of two children demonstrated selected models/experiments in front of other children and teachers. The objective was to raise the confidence of children in public demonstration and speaking in ‘own’ words rather textbook language.
During these fairs, 40 models from 10 themes and 23 models from 5 themes of Science and Mathematics were selected respectively. The strategy was to enhance the teaching skills of the teachers and to replicate the same further in the classroom with the students in workshop mode to be followed by a Science and Math fair.
These fairs were divided into two phases followed by some post fair activities to foster the environment of Science and Math in the schools for a longer time.
Program Coverage in District Bilaspur:All the 252 upper primary schools in the district were covered under this project.
Major Intervention of PRAYAS: Post the planning and discussions on preparation in which Pratham resource team, DIET Principal, and other key functionaries were involved, the following mode of implementation of “Prayas” was agreed upon:
- DRG Training
- Teachers’ Training
- Base Line Testing
- Base Line Data Verification
- Pre-Fair Workshop
- DRG Training:
For DRG training, 3 master trainers were selected from different blocks and a training/workshop was organized for them from 18th to 23rd September 2015. Pratham Field Facilitators also participated in their training. Concepts as “Magnetism” in which Magnetic Dance, Magnetic lines of force, Electro Magnet, Hole in Palm and Bird in a Cage were covered in this DRG training.
Workshop days with children was also a part of DRG training to orient them on the practical approach they need to follow while holding fairs in schools. Community participation was also ensured as School Management Committee members too participated in these model fairs.
- Teacher training: Post the DRG orientation, teacher training was conducted from 26th September to 1st October 2015. The trained DRGs and Pratham Field Facilitators participated in this teacher training.
Post the teacher training and fair practice, base line testing was conducted in schools.
3. Base Line Testing:
This was done to assess the prior knowledge of the students in Science and Math. A common child wise testing tool was designed for this purpose for Standard .6-8. Training of grading was already imparted to the teachers during training.
4. Base Line Data Verification:
To authenticate the baseline, a monitoring team of 30 people (BRCCs and Principals/Heads and Pratham) was framed and orientated at the DIET. All the necessary guidelines along with the schools were allotted by the DPO along with the data verification sheets. This verification was done in one-fourth of total schools soon after the baseline.
5. Pre-fair workshops:
Pre-fair workshops were held at the school level to help children develop conceptual clarity. A majority of the material was explored by the students from their surrounding environment.
Post the fair workshop; children organized Science and Math fair at school level in which other students, community members, DIET faculty and parents of these students visited. The creativity displayed by students was well appreciated and covered amply in media too.
Following points came to light during post fair assessment and was agreed upon to be incorporated for any such future interventions:
We need to focus on the division in digits as well as in word problems.
Fraction – a concept of Standard. 3 is still a problem even for students of Standard. 8, and needs to be given more attention.
Basic concepts of Area and Perimeter in mensuration need to be worked on.
Children still lack in basic concepts of Science which need to be improved.
Learning by doing methodology in daily classroom teaching can help to improve the situation.