Friday, August 27, 2010

Day 30 - The End

Today is our last day here. And apparently there's a bandh going on. Ummm...I really hope that doesn't mean school is canceled and we don't get to do all our experiments. If the TRS (Telangana Rasthra Samithi), the party agitating for a separate Telangana, gets to the school before first period, it might be. Once school starts, though, the principal won't stop it again.

He has a good argument for the TRS too. Once the cooks start making lunch, it would be a huge waste of money and food to get rid of all they've cooked. And the TRS people around here seem to understand that the RDF is serious about teaching the kids, and that interrupting school is not the best way to advance Telangana's interests.

Just in case, though, we decide to teach the 6th graders first. They've been asking for us to come to their class for days, and we haven't yet done any experiments with them. It screws up the schedule a bit, but we really want to work with them.

I do the same magnetism spiel from two days ago, but simplify. I emphasize the attraction/repulsion a bit more since they haven't really learned it yet. I have each person in the group try to push like poles of the bar magnets together, and they giggle with glee as each successive person fails to touch the two ends. "Arey, adey kaduluthondi!" (Hey, it's moving by itself!)

My mom was planning to just show them electroplating, but she ends up doing it the same way she did it with the other classes, by assigning each student in the group to hold a wire or a coin, or to observe the coin and tell us when it has turned red enough to break the circuit. It gets them more involved, and they feel like science is something they can do, so that's okay.

For 4th period, we do both sections of 9th. We call them over to the lab and demonstrate the iodine clock. I pour everything in and tell them it's the pindi padhartham (iodine-starch test). Then I ask, why isn't it changing colors? About 20 seconds later, I draw their attention back to the tube, and they gasp as it suddenly begins to change to a dark blue. Now it's time to give a cut-down explanation of what's happening in the tube.

Afterwards, we give them a little demo of litmus paper as well, then eat lunch and carry all our solutions back up for the 7th graders. These kids are much more rowdy than the 6th graders. The teacher has brought all of them out here, and since we can only take half the class at any time, the other two groups are sitting by the wall in front of us. But they're so close, and they can't resist getting up and peering over the other kids' shoulders. No matter how many times we tell them they'll get their turn next, they keep sneaking up to look at the magnets and the litmus paper.

A couple of them even manage to knock over the (dilute) sodium hydroxide solution. Oops. Well, there's still a little left in the glass, but they have to be careful not to touch the tablecloth for now. Luckily, a later group knocks over the acid, so the tablecloth is neutralized and deemed safe once again.

By the time the last group comes up, they already know half of what I'm going to tell them because they've caught glimpses during each of the other 3 groups' turns before we chased them away again.  It's okay, though, because it shows how interested they are. If I were a normal teacher and this were an everyday occurrence, it wouldn't work, but we're only here until this evening, so it's okay. At least they're paying close attention (and helping to clean up the iron filings they've spilled all over the place).

Okay kids, it's been fun, but we have to go know. Keep that curiosity burning! You guys are great.

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