STEM Learning’s CSR Program Implementation details from Himachal Pradesh region
Across India, STEM Learning is the implementation partner of Mini Science Centres (MSCs). Integrating STEM Learning in the education sector develops curiosity, inquisitiveness, critical-thinking, problem-solving, imagining, innovating, questioning and exploring, designing and building, testing and modifying their solutions to complex problems among learners. This modern way of teaching not only helps students comprehend the concepts and their applications easily, but also helps in implementing them for the progress of the society as the students will be equipped with the required knowledge and skills for life.
Himachal Pradesh is located in the northern part of India with a population of 68.6 lakhs as per the census of 2011. It is a scenic region with snow-clad mountains, thick forests, large lakes, terraced fields and deep valleys. Despite the challenges in accessibility, STEM Learning, with the support of JSW, installed MSCs in 5 schools of Himachal Pradesh. The MSCs have been installed in the remotest areas of the state, where students walk 2-3 km to reach their schools. Most of the students stopped coming to school as they had to walk a long distance. So the dilemma faced by the schools was to motivate students to regularly attend school. The chalk and board method doesn’t attract students nor peaks their interest. This is where MSCs played an active role.
Once installed MSCs become the property of the school and school authorities have added resources to use at their disposal. MSCs have 80 plug and play models and each model is aligned to the syllabus of classes 5th to 10th which makes them a prerequisite to classroom learning. The exhibits are interactive and colourful which draws the attention of students and keep them engaged for a long period. While students are exploring these models they raise questions and learn in the process. Post installation of the MSCs, through word of mouth the perks of the new interesting learning exhibits got around. The students’ curiosity peaked and a rise in the attendance was seen in schools.
The plug and play models have brought a wave of pedagogical reformation in the government schools. The exhibits are light in weight and can be easily carried to classrooms. The teachers utilize these models to simplify and explain various science and math concepts and theories. The thorough ‘Teacher Training Programs’ guide the teachers to use the exhibits to their advantage. 10 teachers have been trained through this program. Teachers have developed a comfort level with the exhibits and are empowered to introduce new concepts in the classroom.
Teaching aids bring light-hearted energy while learning a concept. The introduction of MSCs in schools stimulates an open environment. Teachers have seen students observe, review and analyse the MSC models and discuss with each other. This has shaped students who have shown a 15% more interest in the science and math concepts. This has led to a transformation in learning style, from rote learning to an organic and meaningful approach where students understand what is taught in the classroom. With the help of these exhibits, students are confident in their abilities and as a result peer-to-peer learning is seen among students which denote that MSC models empower students to become independent learners. Students, who find it difficult to focus, are drawn to the interactive models. 348 students have experienced this educational transformation in Himachal Pradesh.