Research based learning in today’s world has encouraged learners to become researchers in their own right. Research activity fosters innovation and can therefore provide a valuable model for developing higher cognitive skills.
Central to Intel Teach, a professional development training program for teachers is the belief that if you empower children with the ability to be masters of their own learning through research and collaboration then the overall depth of the learning will be far more, than by guided teaching.
A paradigm of this belief is the Children’s Academy School, Asha Nagar, Mumbai. Principal of the school Nafisa Bhinderwala, feels that ‘Intel Teach has empowered the students of her school and helped create an environment which induces research and furthers innovation.”
This research driven education in the Children’s Academy, she felt, has facilitated higher order learning skills and critical thinking powers, providing students of the school with an all round developmental perspective, creating a new generation of young innovators. The result of this transformation in the education system is that the students are ‘successfully dealing with research driven projects which are not curriculum based, and instead deal with real-life problems where the ensuing projects are linked to community solutions’.
Bhinderwala, who is herself a part of the first batch of MT trainers in Mumbai says, when she first joined the Intel Teach Program she could not save a file on the computer and had never heard of a power point. But today she feels empowered.
Intel Teach Program – A professional development program that helps classroom teachers effectively integrate technology to enhance student learning. It is the most successful professional development program of its kind. More than 4 million teachers in over 40 countries have trained since 1999.
89% of teachers report using technology with their students as a result of the Intel Teach Program which in turn enhances student’s learning abilities.
In India, the Intel Teach Program has impacted over 8,69,000 teachers across 15 state governments, 2 Union Territories, 55 Universities and across Central government relationships like NVS, KVS & NCTE.
In a discussion on the projects her school is successfully handling, Bhinderwala spoke about the wide scope and array of the projects, most of which had received recognition outside the school.
SWAVALAMBI VILLA – A villa designed by the students which is self sustainable in all respects. It has a farm, the produce of which is served as food for its members. The farm is also a source of energy for running all the devices in the villa. This innovative idea in an energy starved globe was awarded the First prize at the Science Exhibition.
This research driven education in the Children’s Academy, has facilitated higher order learning skills and critical thinking powers, providing students of the school with an all round developmental perspective, creating a new generation of young innovators
BIODIVERSITY –a project on biodiversity conducted by the students which served as an eye opener for the need of conservation of species. This project won awards at the Ward level competition.
GLOBAL WARMING AND CLIMATE CHANGE – Kshitij Gupta, a student of class X, successfully worked on a project on the effects of global warming which was highly appreciated at the ward, district and regional levels and also won him the National Bal Shree Award for the Creative Innovative Science Category from President of India Pratibha Patil.
PLASTOFUEL – Students produced fuel from waste plastic. The project went on to win a prize at the Ward Level.
WEALTH FROM WILTS – A budding scientist Ameya Pawar extracted colours from waste flowers and encouraged its use in Holi festival. Since a harmless Holi is the need of the hour, his is a significant contribution to society. Ameya won an award at the Homi Bhabha Bal Vaigyanik examination for his incredible work.
The application of multi-media in the classroom through the Teach Program at Children’s Academy has facilitated learning through gratification of multiple intelligences
Bhinderwala has been personally involved with another project on HIV AIIDS for which she had prepared a Power Point presentation and took sessions with class IX.
This project bagged the Best School Award for AIDS Awareness Programme.
The school management, she says, has successfully enabled its teachers and subsequently the students to integrate technology in their teaching and learning methodologies, to reach where they are.
The empowered teachers have also molded their role into what is required for the global world. As Bhinderwala said, ‘The teacher in our school is not the sole provider of information to the students any longer, but is a facilitator. She is a guiding force at each and every step, right from the inception till the implementation of the project’.
We strongly believe that teaching-learning should not be restricted to the books and curriculum and each teacher must put an effort to explore fresh knowledge since learning is a life long process. This in turn would promote curiosity and a thirst for knowledge, not only among teachers but also among the students
At the Nehru Science Centre, teachers from the school won awards for research based multi-media presentations related to Science and Environment.
Bhinderwala, was herself awarded the’ Eco Leader’ for the year 2008. She was also conferred as the Best Master Trainer by Intel Teach for the year April 2008-2009.
But the quest for excellence has not been limited to winning awards. Bhinderwala told us about the various clubs the school runs beyond the walls of the curriculum like the Science Club, Nature Club, and Literary club. ‘These clubs provide a platform to showcase the abilities of our students in research and technology and also serve as a media for conveying messages like anti-addiction, anti pollution, anti crackers, anti-plastic, etc.’
In a world where innovation is fundamental to the quest for sustainable growth, research oriented education is the new way of seeing the world and providing new approaches to solving problems. The Children’s Academy, Mumbai, is archetypal of the success of inculcating such an environment which is futuristic in its approach.