Disha IISER Pune part of its ‘Spread the Smile’ programme to conduct workshops in villages, visited the village of Kusgaon, located off the town of Shivapur on the Pune-Bangalore route.
On the first weekend, 10th and 11th of March, the session began with a Disha volunteers’ demonstration of toys and science experiment designed and inspired by Aravind Gupta. The demonstrations consisted of siphon, levitating pencil, motor (simple and magnificent), centrifugal pump (straw and valve tube), toothpaste pump, hovercraft, balloon bottle, straw flute, trumpet and balloon rocket.
In the afternoon, a session on arts was conducted. A session on leaf printing was conducted and the children painted design onto paper using leaves dipped in paint. Later, a project session was conducted.The topics chosen were very relevant to their village, such as water harvesting, water cycle, de-addiction, ill-effects of quarrying and waste water management.
After these discussions, conveniently placed, was a refreshing session of sports and games. The game for girls was one commonly known as Dukkar Musandi. For the boys, the games played were different. The games were Rumal Pani , Kombda Yuddhas, Ghodesavar Yuddh, Dharmaguru etc.
The next morning, the activity planned was map-making or cartography. The children were divided into four groups and they were taken to four different directions. They were then asked to make a map of the village, a map to scale. This session lasted a full two hours. After this, the volunteers returned after lunch.
The next weekend, 17th and 18th March, began with a session on Biology experiments.
In the afternoon arts session, the volunteers taught the children a few stitches used in hand embroidery. . After this, the girls had a sports session in which they played a few of the games described above, such as Rumal Pani, Kombda Yuddh and Ghodesavar Yuddh. . During this time, a session on waste management was conducted for the girls.
The next morning, the weekly project session was conducted in which each group laid groundwork for their project by speaking to knowledgeable people of the village and observing the surroundings.
After an exhausting morning of work, the students were shown a movie, ‘I am Kalam’.
The third weekend, 24th and 25th, at Kusgaon saw visits by Dr. Srivatsan of IISER Pume. He demonstrated a lot of fun Chemistry experiments .
The next session was the weekly project session, where the students made the respective modes for their projects using the stationery.This was followed by a fun sports session in which they all played kho-kho, round runs (which is very similar to baseball), Chirghodi (in which a team makes a long line bending and holding the legs of the one in front and the other team members have to leap over them and test the strength of this ‘bridge’).
The next morning, the same project session continued in which they completed the model making. The models made were well-researched and innovative. The ideas that went into the making of those models were very creative and novel. After this, they were shown a movie – ‘Stanley ka dabba’. Then everyone dispersed for lunch and the volunteers returned. The volunteers, on the way, also visited AFARM, an institute at Shivapur which has a home-based water harvesting model.
The fourth and final weekend was set aside for the exhibition of the work done by the students. The village was celebrating a festival or jatra and it was decided that the models will be displayed during the festival. The morning session in the school turned out to be a fun session where the students were shown math puzzles, games and brain-teasers using the kits borrowed from the Innovative Science programme by NCL-IISER.
In the afternoon, the models were displayed and a small banner was made and hung in the backdrop. The exhibition was visited by the Panchayat members and other important members of the village community and the efforts of the students were appreciated by all. A few of the models had novel solutions to common everyday problems in the village and these did not fail to impress those who came to see it.
At sundown, the volunteers cleaned up the place and bade farewell to the children and promised to return. The children of Kusgaon are very enthusiastic and motivated and they seem to value the kind of exposure that is being given to them. Most of the children heartily make full use of the opportunities provided to them and experiment and learn a lot. They are also very creative and full of ideas. The volunteers managed to get a slight glimpse into the lives and issues of a rural environment.