I woke up early morning, at 5 am, reached the town of Kuppam, Andhra Pradesh, in an hour and finally got into a private bus of Tamil Nadu. Interestingly, this bus had a portrait of a Tollywood superstar on the exterior. The sight of it prepared me for the short inter-state bus ride.
Kuppam is the southernmost town in Andhra Pradesh which shares borders with Kolar district in Karnataka and Krishnagiri district in Tamil Nadu. It’s beautiful to see how people here speak all three languages (Tamil, Telugu and Kannada) effortlessly. But if you are someone who just knows one language or trying to learn one of these three languages, this place can be harsh. The locals speak all three in a mixed way, slyly slipping in some words from another one.
Mr.Murali, from Agastya in the capacity of an internal master trainer for over a decade, accompanied me on this journey. It was during the bus ride that I explained the purpose of my visit to Krishnagiri to him which was to observe the functioning and the operation of a Mobile science lab session since my main project involved developing a similar product for primary school children. We had to change two buses to reach Raykotte, Krishnagiri in Tamil Nadu.
Hari, the mobile lab driver, and two facilitators were waiting for our arrival at the bus stop in an attractively painted van. This van, just like all the other Mobile labs, takes all the material required for conducting Science and Math classes for high school kids and two equipped facilitators to government schools.
Following the drill, Murali sir and I hopped into the van. Hari drove us to one of the interior government-run schools in Raykotte region while narrating various tales of Elephants and other wild animals that the local tribal people have encountered often. One of the facilitators, Moovandan, said that the region this particular lab goes to, is one of the most backward regions in the whole of Tamil Nadu. The hilly terrain makes it naturally difficult for any government schemes to reach there.
We got to know that since the occupants are mostly tribal people who have never been to schools, it is difficult to get 100% kids admitted into schools and to have the ones admitted finish 10th is another task. Also, because it falls on the border of Andhra Pradesh and Tamil Nadu, it is said to be neglected deliberately to avoid any security needed to protect it from threats of other states’ residents who are occupying the space around. This situation will only change with further development. I couldn’t comment much on the dialogue because I wasn’t sure of how much it will affect as Migration and Settlement have been usually beneficial to host states in our country.
The above explanation had formed a blurred image of ill-functioning schools, dis-interested teachers and poorly performing kids. Unsurprisingly though, it was proven completely wrong just like many other baseless stereotypes. I was excited and energetic as the van entered the school premises.
The students as well as the teachers were drawn towards the mobile lab. Both the facilitators quickly picked up the required material from the van to conduct Heat Energy class and rushed inside to tap high enthusiasm of the kids. As the day passed, one activity after another, I could only see the interest building up among students with each new equipment being pulled out and every question asked.
Azahi Mouli is a girl studying in 7th standard whose bold and fearless personality stood out the most to me. She expressed a lot of interest in science, especially if it’s hands-on. It was clear that Mouli and all her classmates enjoyed the session thoroughly and learned new concepts.
This visit had not only helped me understand the project better but it also made me believe in the concept of sparking curiosity in children so that they can observe and question theories and things around them which will, in turn, make them learned and confident.
In recent times, I got another opportunity to meet more than two Mobile lab facilitators at once in the annual refresher training at Agastya campus in Kuppam. It was a good time for me to interact with them to know about their experiences.
The following is a video clipping of the facilitators sharing their observations and some special experiences along with their view on the concept of sparking curiosity in a child.