“The mind is not a vessel to be filled, but a fire to be ignited.” – Plutarch, Greek Philosopher
In any organisation that I would have joined, I would have easily had a 5 day working week, but in my Interview at MakersBox, I was told that Saturday is working, and I will need to go and contribute sometime teaching the Kids at our Mini Maker Space at the Dr. Ruhi Foundation School in Noida. Here I was wondering, I could have easily taken a day off – spent some time with friends, but now I will need to not only work on Saturday’s, but also go to Noida – Who knows, what lay ahead.
For the past 3 weeks, I have had the most fun in my life, I actually now look forward to going to work on Saturdays. I have in each of my sessions attempted to teach the children, something new – but ended up learning something new for myself too.
So let me start with a bit of a background, The school is run by voluntary efforts of some people, and aims to educate girls and boys for free – yep you read that right, for free. They come from humble backgrounds, and the school not only provides them a place to come and get educated but also provides them free meals – keeping mind the nutrition that they need to stay focussed.
MakersBox as a part of it’s Corporate Social Responsibility and a gift from it’s founder Harpreet Sapra, setup a Mini Maker Space earlier in the school and is adding to this noble by helping the children there learn about Innovation and get an attempt to be great in in all five verticals of Science, Technology, Engineering, Arts and Maths (STEAM).
10th September was my first day, I was anxious, I had not stepped inside a school for such a long time, how could I teach – Here I was helping MakersBox with their content, I came from an engineering background, teaching or working with children was the last on my mind, Nervous, I joined in my first session. I had Harkrishan ji and Tanuj (an amazing 16 year old) and what happened next was amazing. I soon eased into my role as I explained to some thirteen, ten year olds, the slightly complicated concept of what an electric circuit is and terms like resistors and conductors.
While this is not a theory class, and these children will not have to sit through an exam in what they learn at this mini maker space, we still want to make sure they understand what we are talking about, to make it simple – we state examples the kids encounter in their day to day life – what is a good conductor, what is a bad conductor. What happens when you turn the switch and the bulb comes on, talking to them they understood what a circuit is all about, and we built it with batteries, motors, LED’s, and Fans.
I realised that a lot of information I had taken for granted till now, was in fact no less than a revelation for someone learning about it for the first time.
To their credit, the kids were responsive, curious and did not shy away from asking question. They were very good at grasping the new concepts we had presented them with.
Over the following weeks, we taught them how to Solder LEDs on to a PCB, add a button cell holder and a push button and they had a toy that glows every-time they pressed the button.
Each kid was excited to handle the soldering iron yet careful as we had explained the dangers possessed by high temperatures of the soldering process. I was really delighted to have worked with these children, they were polite, inquisitive and most of all, very eager to learn. As the kids flashed their LEDs by pushing the button on the PCB, I felt a certain sense of contentment and joy.
In the two sessions that followed, I worked with more kids from standards third and fifth, I taught them how to solder wires to a motor, as well as using the motor as a fan, and talking about how they can build machines from what they learnt. From being scared and confused on what I was doing on a Saturday morning 3 weeks back, to leading my first class, I feel proud of this accomplishment and came to enrich my joy of not merely sharing my knowledge, teaching but also learning.
I thought I’d never say this, but school is fun and I want to go back as often as I can! As a student, one never appreciates the effort put in by teachers to make complex topics cogent and simple.