Science is learnt by doing experiments and making observations. As a science teacher, taking students to the lab and getting them to try experiments gives me a feeling of immense accomplishment. The moment a lab session is announced, the students sit up straight, faces brighten and their questions keep pouring in. Students have ample opportunity to change variables in the experiment, observe changes and justify concepts. Labs have always been associated with fun, creativity, a safe place to make errors without being judged.
When the school moved to the online mode, there was this one nagging question on my mind – How are the students going to learn without doing experiments? How will I retain their interest without a physical lab? How do we compensate for the lab sessions? My mind at that time could be compared to the busiest crossroad in Bangalore–so Chaotic !!! So I started seeking answers to those questions and finding alternatives. Google gave a lot of options and so did our ELC team. We started to introduce simulations in our lesson plans and many DIY experiments during our science club sessions. I started planning with a lot of apprehensions, practised clicking on all options possible so that I would be ready with answers when children needed one. To my amazement, most of the students were able to navigate the simulations, interpret results and in fact I learnt a few shortcuts from them.
Online experiments in our class and club were all about using easily available ingredients and things from home. Students were challenged to design and execute experiments. Again, it was my turn to learn how wonderfully their mind worked… They impressed me with their amazing ideas such as an eco friendly table ( with newspaper that can hold the weight of a few books) or a comfortable shoe (again eco friendly). They also tried out the neutralisation reaction with turmeric, soap and lime.
Whether it was simulations or DIY experiments, the students were patient, curious, observant , helped each other and shared learnings.Isn’t that learning is all about? ”Lab” or “ no lab” did not determine the curiosity of our young learners. They were ready to accept challenges and work their way ahead.At that point I realised that Science is not just doing great successful experiments in the lab but is part of everyday life. Real science develops skills, ability, not just knowledge. And it’s time that we as educators adapt to change and accept different virtual approaches with an open mind. As hard as we try to maintain predictable routines, unforeseen circumstances lead us to face change whether we’re ready for it or not.”The only thing in life that is certain is change.” Isn’t that the truth? So we need to be ready to learn and evolve and the best part is that I learnt it from my students.
Aarthi V B
Teacher (Science/ Biology)
Grades – 7 -10 (ICSE/IGCSE)