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October 18, 2015

Opening of STEM Land and Hindu article

We had a wonderful opening at STEM Land with children from Udavi and Isai Ambalam hosting games and puzzles stalls and demonstrations of their work at STEM Land.  Here are photographs from the opening.

One interesting thing that happened was a couple of students Pree and Yuv decided to work together on creating "STEM Land" with a bunch of 7 segment displays and actually completed it over the duration of the event. They were also able to make the display blink as Subash who was observing their product asked for. They built this with an Arduino. Naveen who is volunteering at STEM Land is now working on soldering this together so STEM Land has a display at the entrance.

The Hindu covered the event. Here is a photo of the article. I can't find the uploaded version of the article so the pic would have to do.

There has been a lot of energy since the opening and children wanted to learn python and do 3-D modeling. We started, but the progress was slow and I researched for something more advanced than scratch that could do more and found Alice 3. A 3D world that is similar to scratch with drag and drop, but with significantly higher possibilities and complexity. Children are loving it a couple of them have been keen on blender as well. 

October 04, 2015

STEM Land inauguration on Friday 9 Oct 2015

STEM (Science, Technology, Engineering, Mathematics) Land is an space exploring Science and Mathematics holistically with active use of Technology and Engineering (deriving principles from experience), its also a resource center with Math and Science materials, a maker space and a puzzles and games library. 
Its impossible to describe what STEM Land is, you need to experience it. Come join the adventure and start exploring STEM Land at the opening and a small fair at STEM Land @Udavi school at 10:45 a.m. on 9th Oct [Main Building], Auroville.
Please RSVP so we can have enough snacks (healthy and unhealthy) for everyone.

If you want to read more about STEM Land, please take a look at

Why STEM Land?
Though STEM is an acronym it can also refer to an approach to science and math education that is oriented towards application and making, tinkering and engineering. Its Land and not Lab because we are targeting a culture of learning rather than teaching and just as in France children learn French just fine and in Tamil Nadu children learn Tamil just fine, we hope that children will learn STEM naturally in STEM Land. 

The center is being initiated by the team (Bala, Sundar, Sanjeev, Vaidegi) of Aura Auro Design. But, we are well aware that the use of the center will involve a lot more and be driven by the interest of the children to learn.

Thanks to:
- Big Sanjeev and Udavi school for providing us space and up-ing it based on enthusiasm of the children.
- SAIIER who have provided us with the funding at just the right time to set up the center.
- Many other friends Ram, Gaurav, Shree, freecharge (company) for supporting materials that are being used at STEM Land.
- Many of our friends who helped us set up the center voluntarily, we spent no money on labor and did all the work ourselves and with friends. 
- Naturally, thanks to Aura for supporting Aura Auro Design without which this would have never become a reality.

October 02, 2015

Completed paper on children learning using computers

Many things have kept me away from blogging. This post is about the first, refining a paper that has been accepted at epiSTEM6. epiSTEM is a biennial Conference Series, to Review Research in Science, Technology and Mathematics Education conducted by Homi Baba Center of Science Education and IIT Bombay.

As Heidi Watts who helped me rethink the paper put it the paper now is about how children learn rather than about mathematics or computers. It has case studies on how children have learnt by trying to explain something to the computer through programming. 
Thanks also to Vaibhav who proof read the first version that got accepted, but both he and I knew it wasn't up to the mark then :).

Below is the abstract. Here is the link to the paper.
Using programming with rural children For Learning to think mathematically
Sanjeev Ranganathan, Bala Anand, Sundranandhan Kothandaraman, Vaidegi Gunasekar
Aura Auro Design, SAIIER (Auroville, India),
Is it possible to use computer labs in a rural setting that encourages reasoning, visualization, abstraction in children (as envisioned in NCF 2005) while at the same time addressing curricular needs?
This paper addresses the question through the use of programming in two rural schools including integration of curricular areas for fractions, cube roots, algebra, compound interest, data handling, geometry, etc.

We explore three styles of instruction - projects for children to demonstrate their understanding, challenges to visualize abstract concepts, and games created by children themselves for mastery.