By Abhijeet Singh, Saida Sayyed and Smiti 13th November 2021 The story of the new BPCV (Banana, Potato, Custard apple, Vinegar) media for culturing Fruitfly in home labs is very interesting!Smiti, a first-year B.Sc student from Elphinstone college, Mumbai wanted to study the life-cycle of fruitflies for which she needed to culture them in her… Read More »
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Late Prof. Obaid Siddiqi: Personal Memoirs – Anil Sadgopal/27-28 June, 2021 Memoir No. 1 (687 words) It was sometime towards the closing months of 1967. I was struggling round the clock at CalTech (California Institute of Technology, Pasadena) to finish my PhD research and submit my thesis. I had already taken a bit too long… Read More »
By Anil Sadgopal 17th October 2021 1972 में मित्र मंडल केंद्र रसूलिया और किशोर भारती के संयुक्त प्रयास से मध्य प्रदेश के होशंगाबाद जिले के सोलह सरकारी उत्तर-प्राथमिक (मिडिल) स्कूलों में विज्ञान शिक्षण को गतिविधि-आधारित बनाने तथा स्थानीय परिवेश से जोड़ने का प्रयोग शुरू हुआ। अगले पांच वर्षों तक दिल्ली विश्वविद्यालय के कई वरिष्ठ विज्ञान शिक्षकों और उनके शोध विद्यार्थियों की पूरी एक टीम एवं टाटा आधारभूत शोध संस्थान (टाटा इंस्टिच्यूट आफ फंडामेंटल रिसर्च), मुंबई, और इंडियन इंस्टीट्यूट ऑफ टेक्नॉलाजी, कानपुर, जैसी अन्य संस्थाओं के वैज्ञानिकों की मदद से रूढ़िगत विज्ञान शिक्षण को बदलने की एक साहसिक प्रक्रिया शुरू हुई। इस प्रक्रिया में स्कूली शिक्षकों एवं बच्चों की भागीदारी बढ़ाने के ऐतिहासिक अनुभव प्राप्त किए गए। इस अनुभव को स्वयंसेवी मंच से सरकारी शिक्षा तंत्र में हस्तक्षेप के प्रयोग के रूप में व्यापक मान्यता मिली। 1978 में इन दोनों संस्थाओं ने जिले के सभी 220 उत्तर-प्राथमिक स्कूलों में विज्ञान शिक्षण के इस नए स्वरूप के अनुसार तंत्रगत ढांचे और प्रक्रियाएं खड़ा करने का काम भी किया। इस जिला स्तरीय प्रसार के कुछ महीने पहले पांच साल के अनुभव पर एक विहंगम दृष्टि डालने वाला यह विवरण ‘होविशिका’ (होशंगाबाद विज्ञान शिक्षण कार्यक्रम) की ओर से किशोर भारती की चार-सदस्यीय टीम द्वारा दर्ज किया गया था। मध्य प्रदेश के होशंगाबाद जिले में काम कर रही मित्र मंडल केंद्र रसूलिया एवं किशोर भारती नामक दो स्वैच्छिक संस्थाओं ने विगत पांच वर्षों में जिले के सोलह ग्रामीण मिडिल स्कूलों में विज्ञान शिक्षण के क्षेत्र में पथ प्रदर्शक प्रयोग किए हैं। इन प्रयोगों में उन स्कूलों के शिक्षक और बच्चे सहभागी बने। इस पहलकदमी की आधारशिला गतिविधि-आधारित शिक्षण है। इसमें बच्चे निष्क्रिय होकर केवल व्याख्यान सुनते रहने के बजाए सक्रिय रूप से ज्ञान के सृजन में हिस्सेदारी करते हैं। लेकिन बहुत जल्द ही हमने अनुभव किया कि यदि इस शैक्षिक नवाचार को करते हुए सामाजिक-आर्थिक कारकों को ध्यान में नहीं रखा गया तो ये विचार आकर्षक मुहावरे मात्र बनकर रह जाएंगे।
By Aashutosh Mule 30th October 2021 It was a winter month of 2011. I had finished my post-graduation and was looking forward to pursue a PhD degree in neuroscience. I had heard of the Masters in Neuroscience course at the Life Science department of Sophia College. I went to meet the HOD, Dr. Medha Rajadhyaksha. “Unfortunately we do not have any current openings for PhD”, she sighed. But in the very next moment, with a gleam in her eyes she suggested me of a neuroscience project taking place elsewhere for which I might take interest. She took the name of Dr. M.C. Arunan and shared me his contact.I was amazed that all I had to do was tell him I was interested to know of his project in my first call, and this person started talking to me with such great enthusiasm, giving me so many different examples of how cognition could be studied in animals, almost as if he knew me since quite a time. He told me of how sparrows hop and never walk unlike crows and how this differing degree of freedom of movement could have a correlation with the complexity of their brains. Drawn by this enthusiasm of the mentor, I went to meet him to know more of the project. The collaborative model of learning called CUBE was just taking shape then. I cleared the interview and was recruited on the project at Homi Bhabha Centre for Science Education. In my project work, an important practice that Dr. Arunan carried out was to ask me to go to the blackboard and explain the work I was doing. He never gave direct answers, but through intensive discussions helped me arrive at them. But I failed to notice it then. Three months into my tenure, I was required to train a batch of 12 young undergraduate students on various projects involving simple model organisms. It was once when I saw Arunan’s disappointed face on seeing me instruct the students, that I, for the first time, understood that what he sought. He always wanted knowledge to be constructed through discussions and not be instructed.Four years later I joined as an Assistant Professor at the Biotechnology department of Elphinstone college. I used to take lot of efforts at simplifying concepts so that most students understand my teaching. I was doing good. Students used to understand my lectures well (or so I believed), and soon started looking forward to my lectures. I had gained some popularity as a favourite teacher among the students. In the Diwali vacations, I got to know of the CUBE winter workshop and thought that this would be a good opportunity to expose my students to research activities. So, I encouraged them to participate for the workshop. I used to be there along with the students to see how they find it. The students very excitedly participated in many different projects. Like it was with me four years ago, I saw my students go to the board to describe their project and participate in a discussion. On one given day, the discussion brought up the topic of estimating volumes of liquids while preparing culture media. The moment I realised that this topic has been taken up, I leaned forward with confidence. Just a month ago, as a prelude to one of my practicals with these students, I had very nicey explained to them about making unit conversions. I remembered it as one of my best lectures at college. My confidence that, if not for anything else, my students would certainly be able to answer these questions, was shattered within minutes, as I saw my students fumble miserably with the concepts taught to them in the best of my lectures. And then they learned the same concepts, but this time not by being instructed by their favourite teacher, but rather by constructing the knowledge themselves through a two-way discussion. Four years ago, I did have a taste of this constructive way of learning when I was working under Dr. Arunan for the CUBE project. But inspite of knowing that constructive learning is better than the instructive mode, I simply followed the instructive approach when I took up to teaching myself. After all, we all are products of the same old system of instructive learning. We all have spent hours learning through powerpoint presentations or diagrams on the blackboard. The instructive way of learning is so ingrained that when we ourselves take up teaching, we find better organization in such structured mode of teaching. But as I sat that day among my students during an active causerie at the CUBE workshop, I realized how unstructured but facilitated discussions are way more effective than any instruction we do with the aids of presentations.I realized how effective CUBE is as a model of learning, not when I was a student myself, but when I turned a teacher.
By Aashutosh Mule 2nd September 2021 Professor Anil Sadgopal, known for revolutionising the education sector in Madhya Pradesh, was on Friday felicitated with the Homi Bhabha Award in Science and Education 2018.The award is presented every alternate year by the Tata Institute of Fundamental Research for exemplary contribution in the field of science education. Friday’s award was presented by Professor K. Subramaniam, director of the Homi Bhabha Centre for Science Education, for Prof. Sadgopal’s lifelong contribution to the systematic rethinking of science education in India, including impactful experiments and teachings at the grassroots level.Prof. Sadgopal designed and organised a rural education programme through Kishore Bharati in Hoshangabad district of Madhya Pradesh. In collaboration with Friends Rural Centre Rasulia, he initiated the Hoshangabad Science Teaching Programme (HSTP), which was a historic intervention in the government school system of Madhya Pradesh.Prof. Sadgopal dedicated the award to his team. “The entire effort is invariably a team effort even if the award is given to an individual. It wouldn’t have been able to conceive HSTP without them,” he said.The HSTP sought to reconstruct education’s status-quoist discourse over three decades. It introduced an experiment-based and inquiry-oriented teaching of science in 16 middle schools of Hoshangabad. Students learned science by either conducting experiments or going out on field trips. Over three decades, the government of Madhya Pradesh also accepted the programme and backed it with financial grants. Prof. Sadgopal spoke at length about Hoshangabad Vigyan in government schools with anecdotes, which delighted the audience.Speaking about the first time he met the District Educational Officer of Hoshangabad, he said, “I didn’t even know the meaning of Bachelor of Education, which made everyone very angry. After that I learnt a lot and today I know everything about the Indian education system. I actively intervene to change the curricula of schools and universities,” he said.In 2002, under the State government’s orders, HSTP was closed as the government was no longer able to fund the programme. Even after its closure, however, HSTP continued to revolutionise science education in India.“Prof. Sadgopal and HSTP remain a beacon of light in our field. In our recent programme, Vigyan Pratibha, we were designing experiments with electricity. We consulted the Bal Vaigyanik workbooks of students from HSTP and the experiments were very well structured even though they are almost half-a-century old,” Prof. Subramaniam said.
By Aashutosh Mule 29th September 2021 Close to a hundred students from across the country bagged awards during the National Meet 2020 for their innovative home-lab activities during the pandemic imposed lockdown. The online National meet was organized to celebrate the spirit of CUBists to continue with their project work inspite of the restrictions imposed by the lockdown. When the lockdown robbed students of their access to the college labs, these students turned their kitchens into labs. Continuing their work in these home labs meant that they had to come up with innovative ways to do experiments with resources available at home. They had to find home-based alternatives to ingredients otherwise found only in a lab. They had to innovate simple ways of investigating their model organisms. Students put to use the collaborative spirit of CUBE to engage in productive discussions that yielded solutions to these new challenges. This spirit of the students certainly deserved to be awarded. Six months into running the show, the students bagged various awards under nine separate categories for their innovative work at the National meet. We list below all the awards received: Anil Sadgopal Award 2020 for Popularization of Science & Contribution to Science Outreach: Anil Sadgopal was one of the first persons to start Science outreach programs in the country and these awards are offered under his name for the efforts put in for outreach of CUBE-based and associative studies. The persons receiving thw awards have contributed by connevting with other people and increasing the reach of the CUBE program. KS Krishnan Student Mentor Award 2020: The CUBE program would have never happened without students who gain experience and begin to play the role of mentors for the new recruiting students. This award is to acknowledge these mentoring efforts put in by these students at making the CUBE model work. The duration taken by to turn into a mentor may differ from one awardee to the next, being anywhere between 6 months to even just a week after joing the program. Veronica Rodrigues Award 2020 for Perseverance in the Pursuit of Science: This award is offered under the name of the late TIFR stalwart Veronica Rodrgigues who…. It would have been difficult to bring about the level of activities that we mangaged during the lockdown period without these very crucial contributions by the awardees under this category. Their perseverance have been evident by the frequency at which they actively participate in the daily ChatShaala sessions and their enormous writing contributions on the metasudio platform and on the CUBE social networking groups. DD Kosambi Young Scientists Awards 2020: DD Kosambi was a mathematician and a statistician in TIFR who contributed immesely to the field of biology, particularly in the domain of population genetics. This award is offered under his name to all the upcoming CUBists who hold the promise of carrying the flag forward for CUBE as well of turning into a good scientists themselves in their career ahead. SK Mahajan Award for Popularization of Scientific Pursuit: TThe late S.K. Mahajan has contributed a lot both by his high level work at BARC in molecular biology and also by his efforts on promoting science and scientific temper. This ward is offered in his name for the for efforts put in by people in popularizing science and science education.
By Saida Sayyed 24th September 2021 Working from Home-Labs continued for the CUBists. While they continued on making innovations, they did not treat their older innovations as some finished products. In fact we saw CUBists bring in more refinements to their older innovations such as the TRSV medium, . https://metastudio.org/t/national-cube-meet-2021/11265/15
By Saida Sayyed 15th September 2021 When the lockdown was imposed last year, many students working under the CUBE program of Kishore Bharati lost access to their school and college labs. It seemed that their project work would halt as long as the lockdown sustained. However, these students quickly rose to the challenge, and innovated what they today call the Home Labs. Yes, they turned their homes into labs. Innovations have always been a part of the CUBE culture. For example, even since before the lockdown students, though having access to their school/college labs, preferred to use a pressure cooker for sterilizing their culture media instead of using the sophisticated lab instrument, the autoclave. Instead of feeding Moina… Read More »
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