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Broadening the STEM Horizons for K12 Education in India Through Mini Science Centre

Author at TechGenyz Science

Science, Technology, Engineering and Mathematics (STEM) are increasingly recognized globally as elemental to the national development and productivity.

Since 2011, STEM Learning, a social enterprise accredited by STEM.org – a US-based international organization for STEM accreditation – is playing a pivotal role in shaping the country’s future in a globalized world. And with the influence of artificial intelligence, big data, and automation in the world is recognized, the demand for immersive STEM education at the grassroots level is the need of the hour.

India is the second most populated country in the world, with the world’s largest youth population. Youth are the innovators, creators, builders, and leaders of the future. However, they can transform the future only if they have requisite skills and the opportunity to explore the world of opportunities.

The Indian government is promoting initiatives such as Make in India, Skill India, Digital India to encourage manufacturing, technology usage, and skill development in the country. It has also set up the Atal Tinkering Labs to focus on STEM education in schools. Curiosity, innovation, and thirst for knowledge towards STEM in kids can be encouraged by early exposure to hands-on learning and practical knowledge in a more engaging and fun to learn environment.

STEM Learning is here to prove it. Across 23 states, with the installation of 1900+ Mini Science Centres (MSCs) each holding 80 models, 8000+ teachers have been equipped with the tools to educate 1 Million+ students.

The STEM MSC exhibits have been mapped with CBSE, ICSE, SSC, IGCSE and other IB boards for 5th to 10th standards. The 80 plug and play models are easy to understand and come with a detailed explanation of the model and explain more than 150 science and mathematics concepts. Besides this, the teachers are trained on the usage of the models to give a complete understanding of them.

MSC has now become a prerequisite for teaching science and maths to school children in a simpler way. It is innovative and interactive with a hands-on approach to facilitate the learning process. The idea is that if the students are given access to MSC, they will be able to think and explore more. As these tabletop models are plug & play, these models can be carried to classrooms.

MSCs are easy to install, user-friendly, they facilitate learning and a great tool. They benefit students and teachers which directly have an impact on the quality of education provided in schools. This modern way of teaching not only helps students comprehend the concepts and their applications easily but also helps in implementing them for the progress of the society as the students will be equipped with the required knowledge and skills for life.

MSCs maximize possible involvement of the child in the entire learning process. It strengthens their understanding of science and mathematical concepts and applies them in variety of situations in class room as well as life. It is very much helpful in developing their power of reasoning, enriching mental ability and boosts confidence and also develops mastery over basic scientific process.

STEM Learning is the only pioneering medium which provides MSCs across India. One of its aims is pedagogy transformation that includes capacity building of teachers through Teacher Training Programs.

15% increase in aptitude & inquisitiveness among students is seen due to the MSCs and this reassures teachers on their compelling use. Also, the effective teaching time is reduced by 60%-70%. Hence, more and more schools are opting for MSCs. Students have even started explaining the concepts to their fellow students, leading to peer to peer learning. The exhibits are plug and play so that the students can easily explore and contextualize the concepts, which also builds confidence in them.

The students get an opportunity to hold the models and explore their features to get a better understanding. Now students can look at the model, work with it independently and understand the scientific concepts, leading to an increase in their scientific temper. Once they’ve grasped the concept, they can use their imagination and direct their thought process towards application of those concepts. The outcome of such learning is successful science projects, that can be developed into prototypes of budding entrepreneurs.

Ashutosh Pandit, Founder of STEM Learning, said, “The idea of MSC germinated from the fact that when students are taken to any science centre, it is more of a picnic for them than a learning session. However, I have always felt that the students at their age may not understand the importance of this trip to the centre for their future.

So why not bring the centre to their schools and embed it in their curriculum? So we started installing Mini Science Centres in schools across India to push, motivate and encourage students to stop fearing and start loving science and maths concepts and ingrain them forever.

The students from remotest locations now have access to MSC exhibits and they are definitely valuing its importance due to the increase in scientific temper they themselves are witnessing. In fact, when we conducted the all-India competition, ‘The National STEM Awards 2020’, recently at over 50 locations, the enthusiasm and the vigor of the participating students was not to be missed.

They were brimming with so much zest to perform and showcase their STEM skills attained with the help of MSC, it was astounding to say the least. The winners were mostly from remote location and we were elated to see girls perform so well.

This proves that we have been able to achieve what we aimed for in the beginning: a huge impact on the learning process and transformation in teaching pedagogy. I am sure that the way MSCs have made a colossal difference in these students, we can make the same impact during virtual classroom sessions and online learning.” ‘

Tell me and I forget, teach me and I may remember, involve me and I learn’. Benjamin Franklin’s quote seems to have a huge bearing in terms of MSC and its significance in the learning process.

The MSCs have brought quality education to the doorstep of school children across Maharashtra, Gujarat, Rajasthan, Goa, Karnataka, Delhi, Himachal Pradesh, J&K, Chhattisgarh, Tamil Nadu, Assam and many other towns of India. The MSCs build students with holistic knowledge and this learning stays with them forever because of the hands-on manner.

About STEM: Mini Science Centre Mini Science Centre (MSC) is a prerequisite for teaching Science and Maths to school children in a simpler way. It aims to lessen the gap between contextual and rote based learning and replace it with a practical approach, which will equip children with the skills and knowledge needed to get lucrative opportunities in their fields of interest.

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