Here at Curiouscity we measure our success, not only by the feedback we get from children, parents and teachers…. But by the kind of questions the children ask. We firmly believe that when a child is interested enough to ask as question, they are engaged, they are thinking, they are interested in the subject material presented. It doesn’t matter how trivial the question is or seemingly unimportant…. it is important to the child and therefore important to us. And when a child asks us a question that we don’t know the answer to, that’s when we know we’ve done our job. Radher than avoid it or give a shaky answer – we honestly tell them we are stumped and it’s an amazing question and then we all go out and look for answers and meet again to see if we do have an answer. Amazingly there have been a few questions that till date we have not been able to answer…. For example a child in one of our workshops asked this : “When lightening strikes does the rain water bend towards this source of static electricity – just as water from a pipe will bend towards a statically charged balloon?”

Science in curious li’l hands
30th January, 2015

Give them lemons and they’ll make batteries out of them. Or they might just teach you to make square bubbles. Bengaluru’s Curiouscity helps kids get creative with their learning of science

In a world where kids are increasingly bogged down by mugging facts and swimming through a swarm of data, Curiouscity, a Bengaluru-based organisation has been getting children to work with their hands and minds, put some thought into the science they learn, and supplement conventional structured learning with seamless experiments. And in the process, get them to lose their fear of science, and begin loving it.

“Our education system kills a child’s ability to be curious,” says Shonali Chinniah, one of the co-founders of Curiouscity. “The idea through Curiouscity is to challenge them to find solutions. It’s not so much about science as it is about ‘doing’ things.”

Started eight years ago in a city ruled by technology, Curiouscity came together when five people decided that the way science is taught to children must change; if not in schools, at least outside it.

Shonali Chinniah is a marine ecologist who has taught in schools and colleges in India and America, Utpal Chattopadhyay is a physicist who has held senior R&D positions in renowned technology organisations,

Sukanya Sinha is a physicist who’s held research positions in universities worldwide, Dr. Jandeep Banga is a doctor from Shimla who takes two weeks off work to be in Bangalore for workshops, and Umesh Malhotra is a serial entrepreneur.

Most of the modules are actively taught by Shonali, Utpal and Sukanya along with young educators, based on science modules they have designed. Field visits, science camps, weekend workshops, and specially designed school modules are used to get ideas across. Themes are created and kids are allowed to take it further from there in their own way. “Usually kids are given a set of instructions to go about things a certain way. We don’t do that. I may show them how to make a lemon battery. But their task may be to create another one to generate double the voltage. This, they have to figure out on their own.”

The problem arises, says Shonali, because of the adult urge to interfere. “If you hold your peace long enough for them to figure things out, they can come up with something amazing.”

Utpal further stresses: “Science is part of human endeavour that tries to understand how the world works and also seeks to explain observations in terms of a few laws. The strength of science is in asking questions, raising doubts, and also repeatedly testing known laws through experiments to see if these laws continue to remain valid.” They work mostly with students aged eight to 12, because, Shonali says, they can understand and do basic maths by then, have motor skills good enough to do experiments by themselves. “And they are more open to ideas and not so much bogged down by jargon.” Most children have got a sense of discovery, points out Utpal. It may be a discovery of known facts — but a discovery all the same to them. “We make them feel like mini scientists!” is how Utpal puts it. “We facilitate, rather than teach. The idea is to get kids to ask questions,” says Shonali.

They are not asking students or teachers to completely turn their current syllabus on its head. Utpal believes that making science fun need not be a difficult task, and is practically achievable even within the confines of syllabus and time — by perhaps organising, at least three to four times a year experiments and activity-based sessions related to the curriculum. Ideally, a teacher should turn a students’ question into a possible experiment to test out answers or generate excitement in the mind of the students about what possible answers could be.

“Most parents whose children have attended our sessions over a period extending up to nine months, have told us that their children have lost the fear of science and that they like to try out things for themselves,” says Utpal.

You can check out their activities on www.curiouscity.org

The way and the how
Children’s author Roopa Pai’s book What if the Earth Stopped Spinning? and 24 other Mysteries of Science (published by Red Turtle) will be launched on January 31 by Kutoohala, the children’s bookstore and library, along with Curiouscity.

The book answers questions ranging from What if the sun suddenly disappeared? What if all the world's nuclear bombs went off together? What if the dinosaurs came back? What if my birthday balloons carried me off to Micronesia? There’s a section called “Scientific 'Facts' You Should Stop Believing”, which includes toilet seats are the dirtiest surfaces in the house; sugar makes children hyperactive; a coin falling from the 100th floor of the Burj Khalifa will kill you. The section “Mind-Numbing Mysteries That Aren't Mysterious At All”, includes answers to questions like: How come my fingers and toes get all wrinkly when I’m in the pool, but not my face? How come water at 26 deg C feels uncomfortably cold, when air at 26 deg C feels lovely?

There will be readings from the book, and live demos and experiments around some of the concepts in the book by Curiouscity.

The event will be held at the Indian Institute of World Culture, B.P.Wadia Road, Basavanagudi. Registrations at www.kutoohala.in

Keywords: Bengaluru’s Curiouscity, Indian Institute of World Culture, science experiments, Curiouscity workshop


The world of water at Curiosity science fair
TNN / Updated : Sep 2, 2013, 03:15 IST

BANGALORE: It was a hands-on chance for students to explore the extraordinary world of science. To help them "understand how to do science", Gopalan International School held Curiosity Science Fair in association with Curiosity, an organization headed by Dr Sukanya Sinha, Dr Utpal Chattopadhyay and Dr Shonali Chinniah.

The topics ranged from properties of water, weight and water pressure, conductivity, the history of water use, water in interstellar space, tornadoes and whirlpools, animal distribution in oceans and estuaries, effect of water pressure on animals, and much more.

The science fun fair had five zones of activities. Two zones had over 20 experiments each, with materials and models that kids can replicate at home. One zone had posters related to the water world. The 'WOW' zone demonstrated amazing experiments that can be done with water. Bubbles, the space water occupies, the secret behind the pressure cooker, the Styrofoam cup were part of several experiments.

The video zone revealed different types of life forms in the water world. Each zone had a wrap-up session of questions and answers with the educators.

Science Fair at Gopalan International School
Updated on Monday Sept, 2013

"Imagination is more important than knowledge. For knowledge is limited to all we now know and understand, while imagination embraces the entire world, and all there ever will be to know and understand." ~Albert Einstein

At GIS, students are guided to become creative problem solvers. In order to achieve this,we keep introducing new methods and resources that not only enhance a better teaching atmosphere but also creates a new way of learning which appeals to our students at all levels. Students are engaged in an exciting way of gaining new knowledge and fulfill their curiosity. We believe that curiosity and creativity go hand in hand to attain higher knowledge and understanding of any simple or complex concepts. Any form of teaching in any subject is not just a field of facts or theory, but it begins with “why ”, “ how ”, “ when ”, “ where ”…. etc. Exploring the extraordinary world of science can be fun. And "understanding how to do science" is an underlying theme in all our classroom sessions.

Keeping this in mind, Gopalan International School conducted a science fun fair in association with an organization – “ CURIOUSCITY ”, which conducts educational science workshops in libraries and schools around Bengaluru.

The “CURIOUSCITY”, organization has been created and designed by Dr. Sukanya Sinha, Dr. Utpal Chattopadhayay and Dr. Shonali Chinniah, with Ph.d's in Physics. They use materials that children can easily access at home so they can go back and experiment and try things out. Topics covered range from properties of water (melting, boiling, freezing points), water weight and water pressure, water conductivity, the history of water use, water in interstellar space, tornados and whirlpools, animal distribution in the oceans and estuaries, effect of water pressure on animals, and much more.

The “CURIOUSITY” Science Fair had 5 zones of activities. Some of which were completely hands-on. Two zones had over 20 experiments each with materials and models that kids can replicate at home. One zone consisted of posters related to amazing water world. The “WOW” zone demonstrated amazing experiments that can be done with water. The video zone showed students different types of life forms in the water world. Students spent around 25 minutes in each zone. Each zone had a wrap up session of questions and answers with the educators.

Almost every kid loves to blow bubbles – and wishes that their bubbles don’t pop or evaporate so quickly! At the science fair one of the activities involved blowing bubbles. Pieces of drinking straws were joined together in various shapes to make bubbles .This activity was performed to determine how to make the bubbles last longer .The task given to them was to create multiple bubbles inside one another. They further explored the wonders of how nature works with waves in a bottle, a fun science experiment and learning game. Students discovered how and why water behaves under different circumstances. The children, who did this experiment for the first time, underestimated the power of space occupied by water. Children were asked to make a guess on how many drops can fit on a coin. Most students were surprised to find out that the number is more than what they have guessed. They also learnt that how a water droplet can act as a simple magnifier. The pressure cooker is Mom's secret weapon when it comes to making that savory stew in less than an hour. This amazing device is also the kitchen scientist's favorite tool for subjecting ordinary things to high pressure to see what happens. The next experiment was conducted on a Styrofoam cup. Under extremely high pressure, will the cup expand, contract, melt or turn into a cute little puppy. Students were awe struck when they found out the result of this experiment. They were over enthusiastic when they got the chance to do all these experiments one by one on their own .These experiments and many more conducted in the school premises was the best opportunity for them to learn science hands-on, and to teach others what they learnt !!

The idea to conduct the science fair in the school was fun, incredibly effective and worthwhile way of assessing what the students have learnt and building deeper learning experiences for them. They were highly motivated till the end to ask questions. Thus, maintaining the spark of curiosity, which will help them to encounter any level of difficulties now or later in the classroom or beyond.

The world we live in today would no doubt be a different place if it weren't for the amazing discoveries produced by famous scientists. Their ideas, research, experiments, publications and determination were the reasons to explore world of science that is so known to us now. Albert Einstein changed the world of science with his brilliant work in theoretical physics. His theories, equations and ideas became the stuff of legend and his image is known around the world. He was the inspiration to those who followed his footsteps. In every child there is a young scientist. At GIS we help the young scientists of our school to discover science in a very real way. By introducing extremely engaging science fair conducted by “Curiouscity” organization, we achieved our goals. The goal of making each and every student of our school to be become super performers and super thinkers!!

Lab is a many-splendoured thing

There’s no room for mouthfuls of scientific terminology and long-winded theorising at Curiouscity, finds Priya George.

Consider a pendulum with a mass M, suspended at a distance L from a pivot. The moment this object, a bob, is displaced from its resting equilibrium position, the restoring force due to gravity will cause it to move in one direction, and this force, combined with its mass, will impel it in another. The period of swing “T” of this pendulum is a factor of “L”, the local strength of gravity “g” and, to a small extent, the amplitude of its swing, “theta”. “M” has no bearing on “T”. If you’ve employed this approach to explain oscillating masses to your kids, it’s fair to assume that by the time you get to “resting equilibrium position” and “restoring force due to gravity”, the young ones have assumed recumbent positions on the couch, removed from fanciful notions of amplitude and period of swing.

Instead, you might want to consider the method adopted by Shonali Chinniah and her associates at Curiouscity when they attempt to unravel the physics behind pendulums to kids: they suspend a bucket using 20 feet of rope from a tree and let it swing away. Later, they hand out potatoes of various shapes and sizes to the children and ask them to replicate the exercise, thereby demonstrating that “M” indeed has no effect on “T”. “We teach children how to observe, explore and come to their own conclusions after an experiment is conducted,” said Chinniah. “Our approach to teaching science is very hands-on; experiments are conducted by the children.”

Curiouscity was founded two years ago by a handful of scientists and teachers with the specific purpose of bringing science to kids without muddling their heads with jargon. “This isn’t meant to change the way science is taught in schools,” Chinniah quickly clarified. “We are only attempting to add to a child’s learning.” To this end, the programme that Curiouscity conducts doesn’t involve an exam. “Although I believe that memorising is an important aspect of learning, I feel learning should involve as much theory as practical knowledge,” she said. Co-founder Sukanya Sinha, a professor at the Indian Statistical Institute, insists that teaching children observation and encouraging curiosity is crucial. “We want to inculcate a questioning temperament that they can apply to everyday life and not just their studies,” she said. “The focus is to get children to experience science first hand.”

Curiouscity addresses the needs of children aged eight to 12 – they hold two-hour sessions through the year where children are encouraged to come up with ideas, find solutions to problems and design experiments. “We are not trying to better the kid’s grades or make him a science genius, we are trying to build a curiosity for science,” Chinniah said. “As long as a child picks up whatever he can in a class and tries something at home and is able to apply this learning in different ways, that’s learning enough.”

As soon as an experiment reaches its conclusion, the participants gather around to discuss the results and attempt to understand the underlying science. “The idea is to create an atmosphere where the kids can approach everything from scratch,” said research scientist and Curiouscity co-founder Utpal Chattopadhyay. “Hopefully, what they learn will stay with them for life.”

Photos By Courtesy : Curiouscity

Eureka! Science Workshops for Kids

Whoever conjured up the image of scientists being geeky and nerdy is going to be proven wrong - finally! All thanks to the creative minds of a few scientists who are dispelling this myth with their wonderful approach to introducing and teaching science to kids.

Curiouscity aims at initiating an interest and curiosity in children about science, showing them that science is amazing and touches every aspect of life! What’s great about Curiouscity is that they convince children (and frankly even me!) of this fact overnight… and voila, anyone can be a scientist.

This fun bunch of scientists and teachers explain scientific concepts with creativity. Yes, creativity and science do go hand in hand. I attended a Sunday session where a group of 8-12 year olds were figuring out the Archimedes Principle all on their own with the help of silver foil, a tub of water and marbles. They were truly brilliant and they were having so much fun, I wanted to be a kid all over again.

Some of the cool questions the workshops investigate are:
  • Acids and bases, ever made green eggs and ham?
  • Pressure - how strong is the air around you?
  • Electricity - why a lemon battery won’t light a light bulb….
  • and many more!
These workshops are so different from the way we were taught – no boring definitions or formulas to mug. Here the kids are Newton, Darwin, and Einstein themselves. They use tools to conduct experiments that have been ingeniously designed to enable the kids to observe, infer and draw conclusions themselves. This lovely sense of discovery and understanding of concepts is what inspires and energises any human being. Apart from all this, I was amazed by the other life skills that the children inadvertently learn, like teamwork, patience and the ability to communicate effectively.

Curiouscity makes science fun! It’s one of the best things you could do for your child and if they took 4 year olds in their camps, I would stand overnight in a queue to get him a spot!

Curiouscity conducts workshops and camps all around Bangalore for 8-12 yr olds. The latest one is at ‘Claytopia’ in Indranagar and they may have a few spots left so….hurry up and call them!

To find out more go online at : www.curioscity.org
Contact: Phone: 9980103061
E-mail: curiouscityquery@gmail.com

LINK TO ARTICLE (August 2010)
Children’s Feedback

Water Works Science Fair
About Our Fieldtrip To Hippocampus Water Works Science Fair

Our class was lined up in front of the door, waiting for us to be called in. I was full of excitement. I felt like bashing through the door and sprinting in, but I knew I had to stay patient till we were called in. It felt like hours before we were finally called. I ran in like a car on top gear. Suddenly I skidded to a halt. I felt like I was in a wonderful museum surrounded by experiments of all types. The teacher who was taking us to the different science exhibits made us stand in a queue. She gave us coloured badges that told us which group we were in. Then each group went to a different exhibit. In my group’s first exhibit, my favourite experiment was “A Misbehaving Fluid”. The interesting part was when you took the spoon through the fluid slowly, it felt like a dense liquid, but if you hit it hard with the spoon, the liquid immediately turned hard. In the second exhibit, my favourite was “Making Ice Colder”. I learnt that if you put salt into water, the water turns cold. After that we watched an interesting video about wild life. I love wild life. A few minutes later, we went to the third exhibit. My favourite experiment in the third exhibit was “A Net That Holds Water”. The cool part about this experiment was that the netted cup was not letting the water fall out. Finally we went to a room with lots of computers. We were allowed to watch one video each. It was an awesome fieldtrip. I really hope I can go again.

Aashi – Class 3B I loved the visit to Hippo Campus. I enjoyed it. It was so much fun and at the same time it was a great learning experience. My favorite experiment was ‘Chromatography’. It was the one where the different colors in water travelled at different speeds and formed a display similar to a rainbow.

I also liked the experiment where we made ice bracelets. The pressure applied caused the ice cubes to stick together. Thank you for taking us to learn in the fun way. You are a nice teacher.

Sayyam – Class 3B I was surprised and excited to know that we were going on field trip. It was a 1 hour long drive to hippo campus. It was a long drive but I could not wait to go in there. We got to do a lot of activities and there was a demo and a video of animals. I liked when we made a tornado out of a bottle of coke and when we played with goo. It was made of corn starch. We got to use the beam balance where we had to find out the weight of some water bottles. We also did a treasure hunt and solved some questions . It was really fun. Finally, we had to go back to school. I wish we could stay there more. It was the best field trip ever and I learned a lot there.

Suvipra Vaidya – Class 3B The field trip to Hippo Campus was fun because there were a lot of interesting experiments like tin foil and marble one. I personally liked the video about the animals.I liked the scientists because they were always talking about somthing fascinating.My favourite experiment was the cornflour one because it seemed so fascinating whun I pushed the spoon into the the mixture very hard it remained hard but when I put it in gently it became all gooey and soft.I did not like the part in which we had to find the facts from the posters and writs them on the sheet because it seemed kind of boring. All an all it was a good trip.
This is my overall review about the field trip to Hippo Campus.

My experience at Hippocampus was very exciting because we learnt about water. One of the experiments I liked was a TT ball getting sucked by water. This experiment was a lot of fun. There were many other experiments like - how many drops of water can one drop on a coin without spilling. That experiment was interesting . I loved all the experiments and wanted to stay longer !
Hippocampus is a great place to learn SCIENCE !
I loved it !

One day Class 3 C went on a field trip to Hippocampus. There were multiple sections of thrilling experiments. For example , I saw a scientist performing an experiment on condensation and evaporation. I also watched a video on nature. In the end , I got a questionnaire to answer . My favourite experiment was how to make bubbles of different shapes.
I loved the field trip !

A few days ago, we went for a field trip to “ WATER WORKS SCIENCE FAIR” at Hippocampus. There we saw a video on the Amazon river. The Amazon river is the second largest river in the world. We also saw a video on sea life and learnt about different kinds of creatures that live in water and the kind of food they eat. We did many experiments related to water. One of the experiments demonstrated how a whirlpool is formed. It was very exciting and informative.
It was a very good science camp. I was thinking why did it finish. I thank you for conducting this camp. This is my favourite science camp. Miss you Maams. – Vaishnavi Mahishale, 6th standard.

I loved science & I want to learn more. – Kadambari, 4B.

I love the way you showed us new things. I love this summer camp. – Khushi, 4A.

It was a great workshop for kids. Specially when they get a chance to do it themselves. Hope to see you more often. Thank you. – Sameera Kithir (Teacher).

It was great fun and we acquired lot of knowledge. It was honestly thrilling experience working with water.

We have enjoyed a lot by attending this program. It was very informative. The bubble and the coins experiment which was due to surface tension was awesome. – Megha V. Kumar 8th standard.

It’s cool and gives a lot of information of water. I wish this fair comes every with different topic. – Lavin Bopanna

What I liked the most was creating bubbles in triangle, cube and so on. Everything was interesting and we get new ideas to invent new things. No, I don’t have things to change or do differently because everything was done brilliantly including teaching and explaining. – S. Hema, 7A

I like it because it is interesting and has activities like treasure hunt. I gained some knowledge and very much fun. – R. G. Rhrishi, 4D

It was just excellent! All the experiments were very simple and was connected to their syllabus also. It will help them understand the concepts as they have experienced it. Thank you. – Jyotsana (teacher)

It was a great experience. Children enjoyed and also gained knowledge. I think this is the way of learning process which is needed these days. – R. Sunitha (teacher)

It was a very fruitful experience. VIII standard children found it more interesting. Recently they had surface tension topic in the class. The experiments which were demonstrated and shown were really different and simple from the textbook experiments. Children really asked more questions, enquired, went blank, happy, all different moods! Questionnaire was really mind-blowing! Children enjoyed the video part too. If you can have more experiments for higher classes, it would have been more than a success! – K. Ramya

I think this experience was the best in my school life. It was very interesting and I was really curious to know things. Overall it was really interesting, joyful and even playful. Thanking everybody for it. – Shanthi Roseline, 8B

It is so exciting to me and new to me and I have learnt new experiment such as bubbles, marbles and pressure cooker, gum, water, temperature, so on. I loved a lot of the experiment and explanation of the teachers. I think I should also try it in home. Especially the steam boat.
I experienced lots of thing today even though I am not so interested in science Today was the Best Day. I learnt lot and lot of things. – Srinidhya P, 8B

It was not confusing (any experiments) all was enjoying and fun. It made more curiosity in me. “E” zone made me more entertain and know about water. Thank you friends for coming and know about new more things. I want more about science. I must go for ocean. Thank you so much. I loved it! -Suganthi N., 7B

I liked the E part, I enjoyed playing. We leaned new things about oceans, mammals, the video, it was amazing. I feel like to do it myself. It was interesting. – Zaara Begum S., 7A, It was an amazing experience for the staff and students to learn various properties of water with innovative and thought provoking experiments. Different concepts were taught in an easy and simple way to understand and remember concepts. Thank you. – Muthu BM, (teacher)

It was very interesting and I am really happy to be a part of this. How a steam engine works is really interesting. It is very helpful for the children to analyse and do the experiments. – Reshma Kurian, (teacher)

It was a very good experience for our children. Of course it would help to arouse more interest and curiosity among them. They could experience the various facts and concepts regarding water. The planning and execution was amazing. It was an awesome day. Their little faces were lighted up. Thank you Dr. Shonali maam and all your team for your hard work at putting on such a professional informative exhibition. Please accept our sincere thanks. – Sheena K. John, (teacher)

Yes this was a very good experience for the children we have learnt many interesting fact about water which provoked our curiosity. We learnt many amazing things through experiment. On the whole the entire event was wonderful and amazing. Thank you. – Vimala, (teacher)

I had lots of fun. I loved the messy room. I am going to try to make something from the messy room at home. I wish water works was every day. I hope we can do it again. – Myra Dhanda, 3A

I loved the way you teach us with play. – Saanvi Huria, 4D

I loved that it’s very innovative and interesting. Me as a child thinks that even I will understand all questions through fun. – Sindhu, 4A, Inventure Academy I learnt that there is so much to water that humanity doesn’t know and make them curious. This explains why this program is called Curiouscity. – Vaibhav, 6B

It was very fun and educational at the same time. I learnt a lot of new things that I didn’t know before. For example, I did not know this much about pressure. I wish school was like this every day! – Aadya, 5B

I liked everything because everything was unique and I also liked how you found out these stuff and made them fun for us kids. – Sarayu, 5D

I liked all the experiments as it was a new learning all the time. It helped solidify old concepts taught. It peeked old concepts taught and interest in science. Thank you. – Radhika W., (teacher)

Very good experience for the students. It definitely kindled their curiosity. It would be great if the students got a little more time to work at the stations. – Hema Nalini, (teacher)

It was well conducted. Informative. Would appreciate more such events. – Padmaja, (teacher)

It was excellent and innovative. It was very child-friendly and interactive. The children learnt a lot along with the fact that they had great fun! – Madhumita, (teacher)

It was a very good experience for kids. Yes, it did increase their curiosity and mine as well. Wet zone was too good. – Sutesh Yadav, (teacher)

Field Trip – Estimating Wildlife Populations
It was just one of those days where as soon as my mother called my name to wake me up in the morning, I jumped out of bed. I guess it was the trip to Masinagudi that did the trick. My mom drove my brother and me to Shonali auntie’s house at five thirty in the morning and there was a bus waiting for ten other children and us. As soon as we reached Shonali auntie’s house we loaded all our bags and left for Masinagudi. The bus ride was fun even though it took us five to six hours to reach there. We watched a movie, sang songs and played a few games. We packed breakfast and everyone had to bring one extra food item to share with each other. My mom packed sandwiches for breakfast and I bought cookies to share with everybody.

We reached the jungle retreat at lunch time and we were so hungry that before we even put our bags in the dormitory, we had our lunch. Then we were told to follow some rules while we stayed there. We had a very fun person accompanying us whose name was Rohan uncle. We had a lot of fun staying there. We went swimming, played foosball and many more games. But, I thought one of the most fun parts was going for walks in the jungle and doing different exercises. When we walked through the jungle we made a note of the different trees, birds and animals we saw. We even followed a herd of deer for two days and also the Langur monkeys. We saw twenty five different beautiful birds and set up cameras to catch any animals that passed by during the night. The exercises were equally fun. We did estimation counts of the number of flowers in sixteen bushes and the number of water spiders in a pond. The next day we left the jungle retreat to camp in the middle of the hills near Ooty for a day. It was nice because we had to do everything without any resources except sleeping bags and tents. We cooked food on a fire we made with firewood, slept in tents and even used portable toilets!!! But it was fun because we learnt a lot of things. The next morning we returned to the jungle retreat and it was our last day of the trip. We went for a swim, played little foosball, packed our luggage and left for Bangalore. The bus trip wasn’t as fun as when we came because all of us were tired. We miss that place a lot and the funny part is that my brother, Arjun, did not know what he wanted to become when he grows up but now he says he wants to be a bird watcher!!!!!!

1) The Astronomy Night – Aadya (Student)
I really enjoyed the astronomy camp conducted by Shonali aunty and Utpal uncle. I never realized how beautiful stars were, I always thought stars were a bunch of tiny twinkling things in the sky. This camp taught me a great deal about the sky, the stars, the milky way, and the universe. I learnt about the nebula, how stars are born their life, death, supernova explosions(when stars explode i.e die) the planets, and the different types of beautiful constellations. Utpal uncle told us all about the life of stars, our universe ,types of stars, constellations and many other things in a 2 hour presentation. That evening we all went up to a small terrace for star gazing. Through my pair of binoculars I saw a nebula (cluster of stars), Saturn, Jupiter, and mars, the constellations of orion, beetlejuice(if I spelt it correct) a scorpion, the north star and many others. I also saw a beautiful shooting star and I saw a satellite. The nebula was where new stars were being born. The beetlejiuce was or is a bright red star. I saw the big dipper, it was a question mark shaped constellation and on the 6th star we could see 2 other tiny stars orbiting it. We all got up at 4:30 in the morning and went to the terrace again and we saw the planet venus. That planet was shining very brightly because it is the second planet closest to the sun. in the morning that was the only planet shining brightly, brighter than the other stars. It was beautiful. I really liked this experience, I enjoyed it a lot.


2) The Astronomy Night – Anusha (Student)
My Astronomy Trip
We went to Ashraya Neelbagh school for our astronomy workshop. In the bus, I watched a movie. In the school, lots of children were studying. There were also bunnies in a corner of a building. We went and met the Class 6 children of that school. First we introduced ourselves. Then we sat with them and they asked us questions. It was like a quiz. Then we went for lunch. For lunch there was chappathi, rice, sambar and curd. It was delicious. Then we went to play with the other children for a few hours. We played running and catching. Then it was time to go for a workshop about the universe. A man named Udpal uncle gave the workshop. He talked about how big the universe is and about galaxies and far away things. He also talked about the stars and how they were formed. I learnt that stars are formed in star nebulas. A star nebula is very colourful. The workshop went on for 2 hours and I learnt a lot of things. I also learnt that the sun is the only star in the solar system. I thought that there were thousands of stars in our solar system. After the presentation, we went to play with the kids some more. We went to the kabbadi grounds and we played kabbadi. It was really fun. The other kids played so well. It was almost beginning to get darker now so we went to get our binoculars and then we went to the terrace. The sun was going down and the moon was coming up. It was a thin, silver crescent moon. Then stars began to appear. I could see Jupiter, Saturn, Mercury and Mars. Saturn was in a corner of a triangle. Mars looked a little red. Then I could see the Orion constellation and the Scorpio’s tail. Then it was time for dinner and I felt very sleepy. For dinner there was potato curry and chappathi. It was very yummy. I went back to the room and drew a little. Then I went to sleep. The next day, I woke up at 4:30 in the morning to go stargaze. It was cold and dark outside. In the sky, I could see Venus slowly rising. Soon it became morning and we went for breakfast. There was shavige noodles. Then we went to visit the rabbits. In a corner, there were lots of baby rabbits. Someone opened the door of the cage and let us hold them. They were like little bundles of fur. We went to play in the room. We all sang and danced Bollywood songs. Then we went to visit the carpentry class. The school children had made so many beautiful stuff. There were boxes, chairs, toys, tools and so many others. Soon it was time for lunch. For lunch there was chappathi and some kind of palya. Then we went and packed our bags because we were going to leave. We went to the bus and went back to Bangalore.
I loved the experience in the school and being with the school children. They were so kind and friendly. I hope I can go there again.

3) The Astronmy Night – Subbu Madapura (Parent)
The Neelbagh Star Gazing event was a fantastic trip for Kids and Adults alike. It was a very humbling experience for all of us visiting the school for the first time. Experiencing the setup there and meeting the kids was something that would help us and our kids a great deal.

Dr. Shonali and team had organized the trip very well, from beginning till the end. The interactive presentation on introduction to astronomy and star gazing was very interesting and enabled all kids to participate in the learning experience. The kids got involved and asked some very interesting and thoughtful questions during the presentation. Dr Utpal enthusiastically answered all queries and made the presentation an exciting one. The late evening and early morning star gazing sessions were just amazing. We were very fortunate that the sky conditions were perfect for this experience, aided by Dr Utpal's and Dr Shonali's explanations and pinpointing of the stars and constellations. The excitement of all the kids and adults there is something hard to describe and it was a wonderful experience.

The school's hospitality was fantastic and full of affection. We were made to feel at home with comfortable places to retire at night, tasteful lunch and dinner and above all - lots of kindness and love towards us. The kids were made to feel at home right from the start. All of us got a chance to interact with the teachers, their classrooms, art village and carpentry workshop and being able to see the kids artwork, dance and science projects was very interesting.

My mind was blown away with the extraordinary work people are doing to run this school and have these kids educated. It was a great and wholesome experience overall and all of us came away more knowledgeable about stars, planets, galaxies and the possibilities of getting ourselves more involved with sky exploration.

Best Moment - early morning roof top star gazing experience with Hot Chocolate from Dr Shonali and viewing the Big Dipper and Casseopeia with explanations from Dr Utpal! Well organized trip from start to finish.

Many thanks to Dr Utpal, Dr Shonali and Anil for making this happen - Subbu

Teachers Feedback

Teacher Training

Tejaswini M.D (Class teacher – 1 year experience)
It was a evergreen training I got from your team. Thank you so much. “A teacher can never truly teach unless she is still learning herself. A lamp can never light another lamp unless it continues to burn it’s own flame”. Hence, I am still a learner. I learnt to nourish the curiosity of young minds and encourage them in all ways as much as possible.

Farhath Naaz (English teacher – 12 years experience)
The whole experience/journey was awesome. Simply WOW! Three cheers!!! Keep Going…. For making science simple, easy and interesting. I learnt many simple and interesting facts here and it made me think and observe as I am a poor thinker and observer. I find myself on two extreme sides of me at time when it come to thinking and observing, applying etc. I realise I have the potential to do it, but not until and unless I try it myself.

Mary Stella (Class teacher – 10 months experience)
As I am new to teaching, I have been discovering many things while teaching. I have learnt many things too. I have put in all the ideas it struck me and I shared it in these sessions. And I want to tell you that this session gave me a picture that I can be a great teacher even though I am new to it. I came to know that one who has the passion to teach and love the children and as well as what you do, makes things simpler and experiment various things. And makes wonders. I am sure I will try things and forward what I do and the outcome of my experiments. Thank you so much ! Reach to as many as you can. Do wonders in these fields. All the best !!!

Asma Khan – Social Science and Science (2 month experience)
They teach us how to teach. The way they made experiments, actually they are doing good job. We learned a lot. When 1st day was finished I am waiting for the second day, so I know I learned that my children also have to wait for my class. The way they teached us. I follw them and tI try to follow the same way of teaching.

Meena Kumari S. – English, Moral Science, Science, Computer, G.K (1 year experience)
This is my first experience about Teacher Training and we learn about science is not very hard. We enjoyed and loved it. On first day we learnt about Complan advertisements, Pendulum experiment, Practical, Average, Profit theory, making pillars with paper and stand upon the paper pillar. The second day we learn bout with is carbon-dioxide? And what is oxygen and what is density, learning numbers in Japanese, what is colour mixture and a separating funnel method and colour separating. Thank you for Teaching as we enjoyed and we loved it. Than you very much. From Meenakumari

Lavanya Srinivas – Maths, Science, Hindi, Kannada (2 years experience)
I feel comfortable and I learn more and it was attractive and innovative. Thank you. No need to change anything. Please continue. Lavanya

Rohini – Physics and Math (3 years experience)
The session was very interactive and the methods used were great. The concept of introducing the “wow factor” was very interesting and different. This method could be used not only to break the monotony of the class but also appreciate the simple concepts of science which we take for granted and teach without any association to what we see in our everyday life.

Iram Rauf - E.V.S (8 years experience)
The activity on how to explain electricity to a child and the activity on describing a thing and drawing it, really made me think. It was really interesting. Hope to have more sessions like this in the future. The facilitator was very goo and it was a learning experience for us.

Reema Mohan – English, Math, E.V.S (2.5 years experience)
I had an impression that experiments can be done only in labs, but you showed us how to use simple objects easily available.


It is always fascinating when a child asks a question that we cannot answer. It means that the child is engaged and thinking and making observations and learning. The children have asked us some amazing questions ove the years… but the following are a few of the interesting questions (a few still unanswered by us) and observations that children have made that have really got us thinking over the years.

Cool Q’s Over the Years

  1. Electricity (2007) I discovered all about grounding one day, when we tried to create a human chain battery on the kids say so, and discovered that if a kid broke the circle and was standing on a carpet, the electricity did not pass through, and if they were standing on the ground and did the same the electricity did pass through. I was very excited, since I don’t think I’d figured out this concept of grounding till we actually did this “on the spur exercise using a penny, a nail and a voltmeter. One kid asked if blood would be a better conductor of electricity as his lemon battery wasn’t working too well, and couldn’t light the light bulb. The reason he explained was that he once got a shock and therefore his blood must be a good conductor of electricity.

  2. Acids and Bases (2009) Is purple cabbage juice an acid or a base? Turns out it is acidic when tested against red/blue litmus paper.

    After making green eggs in class showing them how the albumin in the egg is basic and turns green in red cabbage juice, one kid went home and made “Pink Lemonade” using cabbage juice as the lemon is acidic and turns pink with the indicator.

  3. Chromatography (Nov 2010) In Lawrence School Ooty…. When the kids were watching the colours separate using both water and alcohol…. One kid made the following observation when watching non water soluble markers separate.

    “I think alcohol likes the colour more than water does”

    They also wanted to try if water soluble colours could be separated with alcohol… so we tried, and we noticed a different pattern of separation with the two mediums. I’ve never had kids want to try this before and it was quite spectacular.

    Another child actually asked whether they used blood to paint in the old days… when we spoke about natural colours being derived from plant material. I do believe that they did…. Need to confirm this though.

    At Hippocampus, when Nima was running a session and we pointed out how different colours race across the paper at different speeds depending on a) their affinity to the paper, b) their affinity to the water, one little girl wanted to know what would happen if we turned the chromatograph paper the other way around. “Will the red still win the race?” It was lovely considering that no kid had thought to ask this in the many sessions we’d held thus far. We dried out the paper and turned the chromatograph upside down and showed them how the colours race back... ofcourse the red would only have a chance to win again if it had enough time and place to run the race backwards.

  4. Static Electricity (Oct 2010) In headstart…. We were doing a session on static and dynamic electricity in class and we were having a hard time getting enough static to grab onto the balloon. I moved everything near a window and we talked about conditions when static worked best…. DRY conditions. I later had them try to guess the strongest force of static that they could imagine…. And we eventually talked about it being “lightening”…. One kid immediately said, “That’s not true…. You just told us that static works best in dry conditions, but I only see lightening when it rains.” We looked it up and found that the forces of static are created in the upper atmosphere where it is drier… and it is so strong that it easily overcomes the rain when it zooms towards the earth.

    In the same session, another child made an observation after this discussion, when I showed them a demo on how water bends towards a static charge. “Hmm… I wonder if the rain bends towards a strike of lightening?” he said. Still don’t know the answer to that one.

  5. Air Pressure (2010) In Hippocampus while Utpal was doing the sessions, he was demonstrating how the soda can got crushed when turned upside down in a tub of water after heating a little water into it till a point of steaming.

    Nima wanted to know what would happen if we did not turn it upside down. The can implodes for two reasons…. First a partial vacuum is formed when the steam escapes, secondly the steam cools when plunged in water and contracts making the vacuum stronger. Thus the pressure outside the can is much more and the can is crushed. We tried out this experiment, and sure enough, if we do not flip the can, nothing happens as the air rushes back inside through the opening when the steam cools and contracts.

    One of the boys then asked how much water we needed to fill in the can. If it was full of water would it create enough of a vacuum for the can to crush? We asked him to test it out at home (with adult supervision). One would predict that the greater the vacuum created, the more it would crush the can… more water would mean that there would be less of a vacuum created.

    Utpal did some measurements on the weight that a plunger could support. And this is what he found.

    “Yesterday, our experiment on air pressure actually yielded a rather good estimation of atmospheric pressure.

    What we found was that the vacuum in the plunger could support 25 lbs of weight. Now it is fair to say that it was not full vacuum but only about 1/2 to 1/3. Which means that a full vacuum ( in Karnataka full-a) could support 50-75 lb.

    Now the area of the plunger was about 4-5 sq. in. So dividing the force by area we get pressure. And the result of the experiment is that it is between 50/5 to 75/4 sq. inch in other words between 10 lb/sq. in to 18.5 lb/sq.in.

    The "typical" atmospheric pressure quoted in Wikipedia is 14.6 lb/sq. in.”

  6. Bernouli’s Principal (2013) After learning about the Bernouli’s principal one kid thought it would be great to build a furturistic train in which one could just stand on a platform and get sucked into the train without the train really stopping. It is why they have a white line behind which you are supposed to stand when a train comes into the platform.

  7. Water Works Science Fair (2016 / 2018) One question a child from Lawrence School HSR, asked that really put our brains to work was “why is the salinity of the ocean at 33ppm? Was it ever more or less?

  8. Another mind spinner was a kid from Inventure Academy who wanted to know if there were other liquids that shared similar properties of water and would also be held in by a net… oil? Vinegar? Need to test this out and see for ourselves.