Volunteering and Parenting: Our Science Club

N: “mumma what time is my tennis class?”
Me: at 6pm
N (looking at the clock): mumma it’s 4 right now
ME: yes, it is.
N: So how much time is left until it’s 6?

I know she knows how to read the time and she also knows subtraction. But she can’t put the two together. And it’s not just in finding the time difference but many a times I feel Nandini knows a lot of concepts but when it comes to using them, which often involves combining different concepts, she is lost.

Sometime back my sister gave me a beautiful gift. A wall plaque with one of Gandhi ji’s famous saying “Be the change you wish to see in the world”. In a subtle way those words have made me less complaining and more about taking action. So some days back when I was again cribbing about the school system; about how children spend all their time in learning concepts but not the practical usage; I looked up and the words were staring me back. And again I asked myself: “What can I do about it?”

And that’s when our own science club started. 7 children (between 5-10 year old) from the neighbourhood joined in and we were all set on embarking on our science journey.

At first I was a little scared. Being a commerce graduate, I was worried about how well I will be able to explain the concepts. But the internet is a big resource pool and all one needs is passion and not a science background :).

How long am I?

Our science club started with measuring lengths using standard and non-standard tools. Till now most of the younger children had used a ruler only to draw straight lines but now they could see the purpose of all the markings on it and soon they were measuring boxes, pencils, erasers, journals and anything they could find on their workstation. At one time they were all on the floor measuring each other!

The real fun part came with non-standard forms of measurement. And they were ready with all sorts of things to measure the room with – their foot; their boxes and books. It was almost a Eureka moment for them when they discovered that the room measured a different number of foot spans for each one of them. Nandini measures 15 Paridhi-foot-spans and 20 pencil-box-spans :). At home, the kids did a “measure hunt” and identified things between 1″ to 10″.

combining parenting and volunteering; science club for kids at home; teaching at home
Science made fun with simple experiments at home! 🙂

Playing with Sound

One of the days me and Anshul were talking about how we used to make toys from simple things at home earlier like telephones from empty tin cans. Such toys are more or less forgotten now! And that gave the idea of including sound as one of the topics.

We didn’t have tin cans, but paper cups worked perfect! The kids used their rulers to cut out a measured piece of string and then in pairs made their own telephones! It was amazing to see their expressions when they realised that even a whisper into one cup from a distance could be heard so clearly! Then they made sounds along the string between the cups and created tornadoes in their friend’s ears! 🙂

We made kazoo with empty cardboard tubes. At first they listened to sound through the tube as is and then tied a wax paper on one end of the tube and then tried to understand and explain why the sound became muffled. We learned how sound travels through waves and how an obstruction on way can change it.

The last experiment of the day was making music using different items from the kitchen like steel bowls, wooden spatula, plastic boxes, glasses and steel spoons! Every kid picked up two items and then they all decided to move around the table creating enchanting tribal music! You may not think anything about it but at that moment this was sound symphony for me 🙂

At the end of every session, we always had journal writing. We decided that spellings will not matter and they could also draw what they learnt that day. They came up with very creative writing. The youngest ones were five-year-old and they expressed best with their drawings.

After the first few sessions I was confident that the children were all ready to learn. The sound day was the noisiest of all! Here’s the tribal music we created!

Will soon write about other experiments that we did with water, plants , solar system and static electricity. But have to say this that until I had combined volunteering with parenting; I always thought I never had the time for it. But just reaching out a little further beyond my child opened a whole new world for both me and my little daughter!

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