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!”