Charcha – An Ode To Math and Science

by | Mar 13, 2022

A typical day at Aavishkaar begins with a Charcha (discussion) – the entire team huddles around in a circle as one of us sparks up a discussion on a math or a science topic. From algebra to velocity, we explore them all, in a way that picks our brain for hours, days, even weeks. Ganit (Math) and Vigyaan (Science) Charcha are an integral part of Aavishkaar. So much so that I am told, the team members would virtually meet every day during the Covid-19 lockdown to keep the learning on. Having been a part of Aavishkaar for nearly 3 months now, I see myself beginning to think critically and question unapologetically. The credit, hands down goes to Charcha.

The culture doesn’t stop at the campus, we take it everywhere – A mela, classroom, online sessions. One shouldn’t be surprised if one of us brings Charcha to a fancy dinner table. One should also not be surprised if it would leave them more satisfied than the Tiramisu they’d have for dessert.

Charcha – As finding your “aha” moment

People often tend to associate Math and Science with the notion of rightness, fear and dislike. Charcha is a space that challenges your notions, logic and understanding in every way but never fails to appreciate you. When the focus and goal of a discussion shifts from “being right” to “being”, everything changes. You are no longer caught up in the race to finding the answer but are giving yourself the space to think, make mistakes and reflect. You will be wrong a hundred times in 30 minutes but would still want to come back the next day and the day after that.

You will realise that you’re enjoying being wrong and will soon start craving for your “aha” moment – which to me is the beauty of a charcha. This lightbulb “aha” moment is also about accomplishment, acknowledgement and amusement.

Charcha helps you find comfort in being wrong, it teaches you to listen and not just hear, pushes you to challenge your thoughts, makes you feel able and seeds your friendship with math and science – All of which, in their own funny ways, are your “aha” moments.

Charcha – As finding beauty in simplicity

Bal lagne se raftaar badalti hai” (the speed changes when a force is applied on an object) is probably the simplest and most comprehensible definition of force I’ve come across. That’s what charcha is – the simplest and the most logical conversation of your day. With ganit, you never know what’s coming next – would it be a puzzle, a design challenge or an exploration task. With vigyaan, you dig deeper and deeper while you decipher the world – be it the sun, moon or your pencil. It is beautiful to see how a 30 minute jargon-free discourse can teach you so much about the world.

Nicky, one of my team member, writes, “humein charcha se itna lagaav hogaya hai ki ek din bhi miss hua toh aisa lagta hai ki aaj kuch naya nahi seekha” (We have grown so fond of Charcha that a day without it makes us feel like we didn’t learn anything new). I remember smiling to myself as she read it out loud.

Having been an ardent lover of math and science (thanks to my teachers), I haven’t had much trouble seeing the beauty in them. However, I have recently had the revelation that this love and fascination is limitless and can go much deeper. I often wonder how one could not fall in love with Math and Science if charcha is how you’re offering it to them. Everyone in the world should have access to this absolute bliss and that’s what my mentor, Sandhya Gupta and I are on the mission towards – How to make Aavishkaar Charcha accessible to all?

Charcha – As finding ways to reach you

While we’re talking about bringing Charcha everywhere, why should we spare this blog. Here’s a situation for you:
It’s 8:30 AM and you’ve locked the front door. You’re late for work. Just when you’re getting into the car, you realize, “WALLET!”. You run back, unlock and push the door open, take the wallet and leave for work.

Let’s rewind a little, shall we? When you push the door open, which portion of the door would you push from? The handle, or at the hinge? Why don’t we try pushing the door from both the points and see what happens?

At the hinge – Ugh! Too much effort.
At the handle – Such ease, much wow!

Just like how applying a force on an object moves it in a straight line, applying a force on an object can also make it turn. We call the effect of this force as The Turning Effect. The turning effect needed to open a door will always be the same, regardless of where we are pushing it from. In the video, my roommate, Gautami had to put more effort to open the door when she was opening it at the hinge. Putting our observations together, we can say that the turning effect is a combination of amount of force applied and where we are applying this force.

In a way, the turning effect, T = Distance from turning point X Force. If we assume that the door opens when the numerical value of T is 6 then,

  • If distance is 1 unit then we need to apply a large force that has a numerical value of 6 to open the door : 1 X 6 = 6
  • If the distance is 2 units then we need to apply a moderate force that’s 3, numerically to open the door : 2 X 3 = 6
  • If the distance is 6 units then we need to apply a force that’s merely 1, numerically to open the door : 6 X 1 = 6

This charcha not only helped me understand the turning effect but also explained why the handles are away from the hinge. Not to forget, it taught me ways to put less efforts while turning objects, an aspect of critical thinking.

Ganit Charcha on Patterns

While Aavishkaar bringing Charcha to you is probably farther in the future, this was my first step towards bringing it to you. Not just a charcha but also it’s power to teach values and develop a scientific mindset. The easiest way to get started is by finding puzzles and micro-topics that fascinate you. Spend sometime working on fun and interesting ways to share it with a group through discussions, group activities and experiments. Don’t forget to add a pinch of reflection at the end.

I hope that I’ve been able to nudge you enough to start doing it in your circles. If you are an educator or a facilitator, kick-start your sessions with a charcha. If you work in a corporate firm, use charcha for recreation and team-bonding. If you are a student, slide it in, in between gossip. If you are a parent then sneak in a charcha like you do, carrots!

Charcha is a confidence booster, an ice-breaker, an energizer, a time-pass. It is anything that you want it to be but most importantly, it is a space that makes everyone feel learned, accomplished and safe!

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