Reports: Math with JBNSTS

JBNSTS mainly works with science students at the undergrad level. They realized that to draw the students towards science work has to start at the middle school level. So now JBNSTS organizes a lot of teacher enrichment programs as well as workshop with children (where teachers may be observing or participating simultaneously) where science and math are done using various experiments and activities.

Workshop with children: 17-18 Jan, 2011 | 18 Apr | 2 Aug | 9 Sep

Workshop with teachers: 21 Nov, 2010 | 30 May, 2011

Other interventions: Math Kit – 2011

With Class VIII: Hooghly: 9 Sep, 2011

There were 66 boys, 30 from Hooghly Collegiate and rest from 6 other schools. This was the best batch of students so far. They were very prompt and could answer almost all questions instantly and kept trying when the answer needed some polish.

It was a 1½ hour session with some questions for the students to get them think outside the textbook, many demos with (i) straw models, (ii) paper and transparencies on soft board (iii) ppt’s and even (iv) using just the blackboard.

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With Class VIII (& VII): Garfa: 2 Aug, 2011

The original plan was with class VIII. Then we planned an additional session with class VII separately. But due to some scheduling issues we had to combine both. Essentially VIII students saw what they have learnt through models and demonstrations, while VII students got a glimpse of what they will learn the following year. The plan was made according to how far the syllabi have been covered in Garfa.

It was a 2 hour session with ~70 (VIII) + 50 (VII) students and several teachers from 7 schools in that locality. We had demonstrations with straw models, paper folding and other TLMs as well as few activities where all children had to take part. Unfortunately VII students did not bring any scissors etc and could not take part that much. We ended with a slide show on the Pythagoras theorem followed by board demonstration linking square roots with (a+b)2.

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Math Kit: Mar, 2011

JBNSTS had some left over funds for teacher training and decided to produce science and math kits for teachers. 4 resource persons, including Swati, designed the math kit that can be used for class VI-X. Subir Bhattacharya designed the algebra and arithmetic part while Swati developed the geometry and mensuration section. This involved designing materials and charts as well as writing manuals on how to use them. Shikshamitra was given the responsibility of putting the kit together.

We bought the raw materials and other items of the kit as well as boxes to put things neatly. Few children helped in putting items like scissors, staplers-pins in each box. The Buzz Club children helped in preparing the algebra material. This included pasting EVA sheets, drawing shapes very meticulously according to specific measurement, cutting the pieces carefully, damage control (i.e. re-pasting pieces as needed) and putting them in separate packets for each box. Few other people helped with drawing and cutting many sets of geometric nets. Finally it was time for cutting and stapling straws into specific models. We also decided to put them in clear bags in order to protect them better.

In the middle of this we had increase the number of kits from 50 to 60 on request from JBNSTS. Subir da was getting the printed materials – manual and charts – ready. Also we had to delete couple of items from our original list since one could not be supplied in large numbers by the shops and the other was hard to manufacture in such big quantity.

There was a lot of learning from such a large production venture. We learnt a lot regarding precision, team-work and streamlining. Next time we will do some of the things differently to save time and maintain precision. Also few new items will be added. The Buzz Club children are dying to learn algebra using what they made. Others who helped commented how they could have leant math better with such TLM’s.

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Introducing the Math kit: 30 May, 2011

– by Subir Bhattacharya, Swati Sircar and Siddhartha Chatterjee
We had initially planned this to be 3-4 days hands on training. However it boiled down to a 1-day affair. 1st half was algebra and arithmetic while geometry and mensuration as well as uses of graph were in the 2nd half. The kit was distributed to ~30 teachers. They were introduced to the makers of the kit – the children from Shikshamitra during lunch.

2nd part was kept brief since the teachers can look up most of the things from the manual. The teachers made 3 straw models, each needing a different type of stapling. Then they cut out the triangles and quads from the flex. Few of the uses were shown. Some of the participants, who had participated in our workshop before, came forward and demonstrated to all. The maintenance and repair of the content of the kit was highlighted. Especially the fact, that pieces can be made (if damaged or lost) since measurements and diagrams are all meticulously included in the manual. We also mentioned the errata. Finally we stressed that the most important component could not be included in the kit but must come from each of the teachers – willingness (“ichchhe”) – to try these out in their respective classrooms.

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With Class VIII: Bethune: 18 Apr, 2011

In this 2 hour session with ~60 girls we discussed topics from class VII and VIII geometry. This included (i) transformation geometry – how it helps, reflection and translation on paper by folding and “pen-pointing”, (ii) various properties of angles and triangles using models or transformations. Few teachers were also present to observe and learn from the session.

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With Class IX: Coochbihar: 17-18 Jan, 2011

Originally planned as a one-day session this extended well beyond 1½ days thanks to unavailability of other resource persons for train delays and other related issues.

Day 1: 43 students and 14 teachers
The day started with rearranging the benches to facilitate group work. There was a combination of ppt presentations, demonstrations and activities often related to each other. The topics were selected from class VI-X syllabi to provide a combination of known and unknown. The teachers themselves got so involved that they had to be told several times to assist the children, working in groups, when needed. We explored square roots, geometry – various theorems, properties of certain shapes and their uses, transformation geometry, volumes of some geometric solids and algebra using TLMs

In the evening we got the news of other resource persons and the request to extend the math part. So we prepared for the better half of next day and planned some work that can be supervised by the teachers on Day 3.

Day 2: 60 students and 23 teachers
We started with a question regarding recurring decimal as ice-breaker as the hall was being set up. Then we discussed parallel lines and equal line and brought a little bit of geography into math. Then the children got into making the algebra kits for themselves similar to the ones used for demonstration yesterday. During this few of the teachers were called and given rough drawing of nets for various geometric solids that can be used for class VI geometry as well as for class X mensuration. Though roughly drawn, the diagrams had exact measurements and specifications. [These were to be drawn and cut out by children on Day 3.] We ended by a presentation illustrating the geometric reasoning behind scale and compass constructions.

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Teachers’ Workshop: 21 Nov, 2010

It was a short 2 hour workshop with ~20 teachers on geometry. We mainly worked on geometric proofs using paper folding, exploring reflection and translation through folding and other geometry related topics. We didn’t have time to cover the straw models.

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