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Designing Learning Experiences

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When was the last time you ran in circles?

As we grow up and gain this perspective of what is right and what is wrong, what is appropriate and what’s not, we forget what truly makes us happy. We happen to redefine our definition of fun and also decide on a different “ comfort level”.

I greeted the students at Kumudini Homes School, Pokhara on a Wednesday morning. I saw the confusion in the face of the junior students and the boredom on the face of the senior students as they were made to gather in the ground under the harsh midday sun. Nevertheless, I began the class, “We will start today’s camp by playing a short game. How many of you have played the game – ‘fire in the mountain’?” None of the students raised their hands so, I told them about the game.

“We will be running in circles, yelling ‘Fire in the mountain. Run, run, run!’ As as we are running, I will call out a  number and you guys will have to make a team of the same number. And if you can’t do that, then your team will be disqualified!”

We were all laughing as we played. By the time that we started our third round, the senior students were also enthusiastically running round in circles. I called out the last number: 3, and we had all of the teams ready.

The first half of the class was about motion and its transformation. While building prototype of an “automaton”, the students discovered that circular motion can be converted to linear motion with a simple mechanism. And they also realized that they can it easily relate this with their real life. By the time that I announced that we have a 10 minutes break, I was tired from running from one corner of the classroom to another. Our class was run in a medium sized hall that had a total of sixteen tables, each with three chairs. My co-facilitator, Sumit, was going around the hall too. He was reminding the students that they had only five minutes left for the break and I overheard his conversation with one of the teams.

“We have only five minutes left for the break. Aren’t you guys going out?”

“No, we want to complete our activity first!” replied the team without even looking at Sumit. All of the team members were busy cutting papers, and trying make their project functional.

I personally don’t remember having a dedication like that in any of my classes when I used to be a school student.

We went to the class on the second day – all the necessary materials;prepared the night before. We started the class with an energizer called ‘jump-in-jump-out’. Then, we divided the students into two groups. And then I immediately handed out the instruction sheets to the students. “How many of you know what is soldering? Or have ever soldered something before?”, I asked.

Four students raised their hands so I instructed them to share with their friends what soldering was. Even if I had motors and battery caps ready for use, I instructed the teams, one at a time, and encouraged them to solder their own motors and battery caps. As some teams got busy in that, other teams worked on their prototypes of vibrator motor bots. I was a little disheartened seeing just 8 girls in a pool of 48 students. And even their hands trembled as they carried the soldering irons. I also had to guide them how to hold a wire stripper properly.

I felt accomplished by the end of the class as I saw the girls working at the soldering station – with their hands not trembling.

At the end of the class, we did a quick battle of the bots to pick the ultimate bot of the day. And the students gathered around the battlefield and cheered for their favorite bots!

By the time the class ended and we got ready for a group picture, we were 32 minutes late than the calculated time. And even if the students were supposed to be having their lunch at this time, none of them complained about being hungry or about wanting to leave the hall.

Yes, learning is definitely an experience and I can’t feel more happy and grateful that I get to provide that to my students.

On the way back to their own classroom, one of the students came up to me and said, “Please, definitely come to our school for the next year!”

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Karkhana Brunch

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Karkhana is organizing “Karkhana Brunch” tomorrow (November 17th, 2018). The brunch has been planned elaborately. Decorations, photo booth, fun activities, speeches, dances, catered food – you name it, the brunch has it all! Parents, family members and close guardians of all Karkhana employees are being invited to Karkhana for a fun gathering tomorrow. They say happiness is contagious, and maybe it’s for real. Mum has been excited about this for weeks now and I think the joy has caught on me too!

For all my schooling years, ‘Parent’s Day’ celebrations haven’t been of much grandeur, for me. My school sent out invitation cards, did a grand gathering with jam packed performances and stuff. But a huge crowd filled with people who rarely meet each others’ eyes on most days along with speeches that go on for hours, aren’t really the kind of events I would be happy about. However, my gut tells me that Parent’s Day at Karkhana will be a different story.

I have been a part of this company for the 16 months. While it’s a different story that on some days, I am too drained to talk when I am home; on most days, I have always had things to tell mum, dad and my brother. I tell them about the people my I work with, the students I meet and the teachers I talked to. And because, no one from home has actually visited Karkhana, I also tell them bits and pieces about how Karkhana Ghar – it’s red bricks, aesthetic doors and windows and beautiful flowers. You can say that I almost sound like a kid coming home from school and telling everyone about how her day went and what she learnt at school. And thinking about it now, considering the ‘education’ I have had at Karkhana, this place is no less than any school I could ever be a part of.

Tomorrow, I will show mum the beautiful flowers we have at Karkhana. Dad and I will marvel at how aesthetic Karkhana Ghar is and how beautifully it has been built. I will show dai all the favorite corners I have at Karkhana. And more importantly, my family will meet another family that I have grown so fond of over the past year 🙂

– Mamina

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Karkhana Reads

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Hi all!

This blog talks about a few books that I and Sabhyata read during the Dashain break we recently had and also about the books we are currently reading. If you haven’t read these books before, maybe you can add them to your reading list if they interest you!


Sabhyata shares her happiness with us in having got the chance to go back to the world of fiction 🙂 She got around to complete a few reads from the world of fiction:

  1. ‘Beatrice and Virgil’ by Yan Martel: That tells the story of the misadventures between an author and a taxidermist.
  2. ‘Keep the Aspidistra Flying’ by George Orwell: That talks about what happens to a man who decides that he’s going to stay away from the world of money.

Currently, Sabhyata is reading a quadrilogy by Elena Ferrante titled: Neapolitan Novels. She completed the first 2 books of the series titled: ‘My Brilliant Friend’ and ‘The Story of a New Name’; and now is onto the third book of the series. Sabhyata says, “It traces the life of two friends in 1950 Naples but anybody who’s ever had a best friend in whom they found both their soulmate and nimesis at the same time would relate to this series.”

***

I got around to complete “Buddha’s Orphans” by Samrat Upadhyay during the Dashain break. While telling the story of a single person, the book touches the life of many people and families. A sadly beautiful picture of Kathmandu from the bygone days got printed on my head while reading this book.

I am currently reading ‘A Book of Simple Living’ by Ruskin Bond and I am loving how picturesque his works are. The brief notes from the Himalayas are beautifully crafted!

***

Happy Reading!

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Karkhana Reads

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Hi! Are you guys ready for this weeks’ list of reads?


  1. The donors aiming to improve quality and the government focusing on infrastructure and access seems to have created a clash of interest causing a gradual decline in the share of bilateral and multilateral budgetary support. Find more on this here.
  2. Kara Swisher, co-founder at Recode, shares her story and experiences with the worst, and best, bosses. Kara says she is fantastic, not too confident. Read more on this here.
  3. Sakar has always enjoyed reading about strange people that don’t fit into the society well. He finds that there are interesting things to be learnt from the people at the fringes. He stumbled upon this article from the Vanity Fair that tells the story of Khalid bin al-Saud who has made investors from all over the world fall for his schemes.
  4. Prayush shared this tale of the world’s largest megalopolis – Shenzhen, about how to transformed itself from a rural village to its current state. But, this bewildering urbanization comes with a price to pay. Find out more on this here.
  5. Arts and Education is one of the agendas that Photo Kathmandu 2018 addresses. What help does visual code do for teachers and students? Sunoj shared this piece written by Ayushma Regmi with us.

Happy Reading! ^_^

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Karkhana Reads

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Hi all! With the festive season on, vacation days are on in Nepal! We hope that you can squeeze in these lovely reads among all of these festivities! 😀


  1. Sachet shared a beautiful mother-daughter tale of appreciation, thankfulness, self-realization and confidence written by Muna Gurung. This story speaks of living a life in pursuit of beautiful things! 🙂
  2. In a world of digital journalism, magazines no longer have a monopoly on the concept that they invented. However, magazine covers seem to play an important role in the sales of magazines. And now the designs of magazine covers have started reaching out for cultural aspirations beyond pop culture! Read this piece that Sakar shared with us to learn more on this!
  3. This read tells us that pirates are “the most sophisticated and successful criminal organizations in history.” As violent and greedy the pirates were, they prospered fascinatingly outside the rule of law. Follow this link shared by Sakar to learn more on this!
  4. Sometime last week, Dikshya brought this book titled Sea Prayers written by Khaled Hosseini and we passed it around. It was a quick five minute read that left a few of us moving. So, if you are looking for something quick to read this holidays, you could pick this book!

Have a happy dashain, everyone!

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भविष्य National STEAM Camp 2075

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For भविष्य National STEAM Camp 2075, we had a total of sixteen teams of students aged 10-15 years from all over Nepal! Last year when we had organized भविष्य, we had aimed to expand this throughout the whole country. Last year, we had participants from the schools in Kathmandu valley and also from the neighboring district of Sindhupalchowk.

This year, Karkhana organized भविष्य National STEAM Camp in collaboration with U.S. Embassy Nepal.  We invited one team (consisting of 3 students and a supervisor) each from all eight American Corners in Nepal. The other eight teams were from BeeCreative’s partner schools inside the valley.

The camp ran for two days through September 27-28, 2018. During the camp, students built a prototype to solve problems based on United Nations Sustainable development goals. And students showcased their prototypes during Karkhana Mela, on September 29th.
During this camp a session “Challenges inside Classroom” related to classroom management was also conducted for supervisors by our BeeCreative teachers!

In the camp, the participating teams from different regions of Nepal made different project within a 4 hour time frame. Teams were given challenge involving Science, Technology, Engineering, Arts & Design and Mathematics (STEAM) subjects where students work in teams to build a project/working prototype that was focused towards solving the problems existing within their local communities. The problems addressed the Sustainable Development Goals defined by United Nations.

It was a fun two days camp for us and also the participants! 🙂

We will give you more updates in the blog to follow! ^_^

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Seetu Style

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If you guys have been following this blog series, you all must know that Seetu hasn’t put any of her merch on sale till now. But people, times have changed now! Seetu is finally putting her amazing work out for sale this weekend!


Seetu will be at the Kathmandu Mini Maker Faire 2018 being held at Nepal Communitere, Pulchowk on 22nd and 23rd of September. Her stall will feature a few of her designs in the form of cute bookmarks and notebooks! Binita, a BeeCreative teacher, who has won hearts of many here at Karkhana with her crafty skills is also putting up some of her quirky and cute cards on sale at the Maker Faire!

So guys, get ready to mix your weekend with a dash of creativity and go support these ladies in their work!


Besides from that, there are a lot of good things happening at this free-entry Maker Faire! Check the schedule here and go visit the stalls!

See you all at Nepal Communitere, Pulchowk today and tomorrow!
-Mamina Shrestha

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Karkhana Reads

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Hi all! We are a  few days late for this weeks list of fun reads. But, hey, it’s better late than never, right?


  1. Have you ever wondered why our national flag is of an unusual shape? Hmm.. I have and Hasin seems to have found this piece on the Internet that tells us why.
  2. Sakar shared this article from Edutopia that tells us about the 7 Outstanding K-8 Flexible classrooms! Follow this link to know more!
  3. Jasna, our new member at KIC, did some research and reading for our ongoing KIC class: My City. And she shared one of the articles on an Aurora-like mystery called Steve.
  4. And from 11,845 kms away, Dipesh shared with us one of the shorter readings he had the past week on Cognitive Science and Cognitive Science Education. Find the PDF here!
  5. The Mafia grew in India because of the citrus market there! Roshan shared this essay with us that tells us more on that!
  6. Sakar found us an article from The Wired that tells us about the educational tyranny of neurotypicals.

The current school system is too rigid, and it’s designed for a different world.


Okay guys! That’s the list for this week! We’ll send you more soon! Until then, happy reading!

-Mamina Shrestha

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Karkhana Reads

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Hi all! Are you ready for this week’s supply of good reads?

Let’s go!


  1. What do you think is Earth’s oldest color? Rupesh shared a piece from How Stuff Works that claims to tell us what it is! Check the link to learn more!
  2. Hasin shared with us a few readings from The Wire, The Economist and also from The Indian Express on various topics! Find our more here:
    1. From The Wire, India, Hasin read a piece about what writer and activist Arundhati Roy shared at a press conference. Read more  on that here.
    2. What keeps Singaporean education at the top of it’s game? Find out more on that here.
    3. This another article tells us more about the arrests and raids on India’s prime activists and human right advocates.
  3. Do you think afternoon classes are better than morning classes or the other way  round? Inspired by conversations between fellow teachers: Anu and Sonam, Rupesh looked up this research paper that tells us about some interesting patterns!
  4. Sunoj shared with us this article that tells us why Physics needs Arts to help picture the universe!
  5. This article that Rupesh shared tells us how the kids of today are working more and learning little.
  6. Seems like the Singaporean Government doesn’t want it’s children to just ace in exams. They have the best schools in the world, but they are looking for more! Sunoj shared this piece with us.

Happy Reading, folks! 😀

-Mamina Shrestha

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Seetu Style!

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Hi guys! This week, Seetu has a ton of appreciation to shower for her mentors: Amogh and Rupak! Want to know why? Let’s find out from Seetu herself!


I have been working as a designer for the past one and half years. It’s not easy to start off as a designer when you don’t have a senior designer you can look up to. After my first 3 months of internship as a designer, I joined an IT company where I was the only designer and it was really difficult for me to grow as I had to learn most of the things via Google. Depending totally on the Internet didn’t help me grow much. Yes, I learned many techniques from the internet but it certainly isn’t the same as having a supervisor guiding you in all the steps you take.

 

I joined Karkhana 9 months ago, in December. Here, I was introduced to a senior designer: Amogh Dhakwa. He is a part time designer at Karkhana. I was very happy to have a senior designer working with me. And on top of that, he is one of the most humble person anyone has ever met who is always calm and happy. He is also very humorous and if you ever get chance to work with him you will see him making jokes about his own designs (despite of it being awesome as it is!).

I have noticed people asking him this question very often: “Do you ever get angry?” and he answers with a big smile: “No”. And I know it’s true because, trust me, I nag him a lot!

“A mentor is someone who sees more talent and ability within you, than you see in yourself, and helps bring it out of you. ”

Amogh dai has always been the mentor that I needed. He is always available online for helping me, guiding me and giving me some feedback on my designs. I feel very happy to have him as my mentor. His feedback have helped me a lot. He has always pushed me to try new things and has always encouraged me to make more illustrations. There were times when I thought I couldn’t do it and at that time, Amogh dai would be always be there to encourage me to try more. Today, I want to thank Amogh dai for all of his suggestions and feedback that have helped me a lot and has guided me to grow as a designer.

Do give a thumbs up for his awesome designs in Behance.

P.S. He has always been telling me to launch my own merch but I haven’t been able to do so (Still trying to collect all my guts :P)

~~~~~

If  you have been following this blog series, you might have seen me working on a project: “WORKBOOK” for the past few months. For this, I have been working with another senior designer Rupak Raj Sunuwar Thugucheaa. He is also a part time designer at Karkhana. He is also a mural artist.

If you happen to visit Karkhana, you are most likely to see him with his headphones on which are always as loud as our speakers! 😛 At first glance, you might take him for a serious person, but he is also very humorous! But yeah, he is very serious about his work!

We have been working together in the Workbook project. And as print work is very new to me, he has been guiding me about all the small details that matters as a designer when we send it to a printing press. It would have been impossible for me to work on it without him. This is why, I want to thank Rupak dai for all this suggestions and insights!

Do give a thumbs up for his awesome designs and murals on Behance.

Thank you my mentors! 🙂  I will always look up to you guys in the years to come!


I, on the other hand, want to thank Seetu and Amogh dai for giving me the motivation I need in making my designs. I am only taking baby steps- but trust me, I could not have done this without the push you guys give me ^_^ Your feedback and comments have helped me a lot and I can’t thank you guys enough for that! And Rupak dai, thank you for drawing me as a character in the Workbook! That should give me my own little fanbase in the world of print!

-Mamina Shrestha

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