Sunday, 8 September 2019

Teaching kids about Chandrayan-2







Teaching kids about Chandrayan-2 



Dear all,

Chandrayan-2 can be a superb inquiry session with children aged 4 and above, depending on the age of the children in your class, use the below facts developmentally appropriately.
·         Start by making the children sit in a group or a circle and probe about what they know about Chandrayan and vikram.
·         Then add the following facts as and when required. Ensure that the session is not all about ‘giving gyaan’ but is more about having a discussion and hearing what children have to say and extending their knowledge.
·         Also ensure that you use the right photos and pictures from the ISRO website and not what you have received on whatsapp forwards.
·         Please understand that this will be a science topic to develop scientific thinking in children so avoid making the objects ‘talk’ as it confuses children and does not build scientific connections. I always say that in a classroom a teacher must know when to teach with stories and puppets and when to teach facts. (For example when children watch TV programs they know that what they watch on cartoon network is fiction and what they watch on national geographic is real, a good teacher must know this distinction)
·         You can start the session with songs and rhymes about the moon in various languages, but when talking about the facts of the mission talk scientifically.
·         You can use either STEAM (Science, Technology, Engineering, Art and Math) approach or Multiple Intelligences (musical rhythmic, visual-spatial, verbal-linguistic, logical- mathematical, bodily kinaesthetic, interpersonal, intrapersonal and naturalistic.
So link facts to these from the ones given below, don’t forget to do point no. 
Download pictures from this link to use- - www.isro.gov.in


Some facts about Chandrayan-2 mission of India-

1.America, Russia and China have explored the moon.

2. But all have explored the north pole on the moon.

3.What is ISRO- Indian space research organisation- it is based in Bangalore (show CORRECT map of India, see if they know where it is)  

4.You can also show them website of ISRO if required- www.isro.gov.in here it is important to teach children that when we receive some news on whatsapp we should double check with the ISRO website to know the real facts. (This is called seeking evidence, this will be our way of laying the foundation of teaching children about fake news.)

5.Point to picture of Dr. Shiven ISRO head and hundred’s of scientists worked on Chandrayan-1 and 2 missions.

6. Here many children may talk about how our PM was consoling/hugging Dr. Shiven. Good opportunity to talk about emotions. That it is ok to feel sad and be upset when we fail or think we are not going to be successful or get what we wanted and the best way to cope with such emotions is to cry or talk to someone and that is what you see happening. It is ok for everyone to cry. (In many areas you may get children who may say that it is sissy to cry or boys don’t cry, so use this opportunity to teach that crying is a way of showing your emotion just like you smile or laugh when happy, similarly you cry when upset, nothing wrong and everyone can cry, even boys and men)

7. Why is the Indian mission named Chandrayan? It means “Moon Craft” in Sanskrit language. (Ancient-oldest language of India)

8.Just like you have an aircraft this is a moon craft. It was the size of a refrigerator

9. What was chandrayan-1? It was the first orbiter sent to the moon and orbited around the moon from a distance (100kms to 200 kms)

10.India launched Chandrayan-1 in 2008 and it brought back pictures of water on the moon- slabs of water ice buried in the craters.

11. So India launched Chandrayan -2

12.That is why Chandrayan -2 mission has a rover to physically land on the moon to explore this evidence of water.

13.India wanted to explore the south pole by doing a soft landing of its robot- vikram lander

14.What is chandrayan-2 mission? Chandrayan- 2 is India’s moon mission to explore the southern side of the moon

15.  It was launched from Satish Dhawan Space center- Sriharikota, Andhra Pradesh on July 22 (show CORRECT map of India, see if they know where it is)

16. Chandrayan-2 has an orbiter, lander and rover to explore the unexplored south pole of moon

17.So the chandrayan-2 orbiter has already reached the moon and is orbiting around it

18.The orbiter has a camera and it is like the camera on a mobile phone but much better with very high resolution

19.It will work on solar power

20.The chandrayan-2 also had a lander with an rover

21.The lander is named vikram and the rover is named Pragyan

22.Vikram lander was to make a soft landing on the moon and release Pragyan rover who would then be active for 14 days exploring the physical moon surface.

23. On September 7th at 1.53 am the vikram lander came very close to the moon but a little away from landing it lost communication with ISRO

24.So presently we don’t know what is the situation of vikram lander and pragyan rover. It could have landed   we don’t know as we have lost communication with it.

25.Here it is very important that you don’t say anything that is not a fact, don’t say it is destroyed or crashed etc. give facts that are evidence based only.

26.How was ISRO communicating with Chandrayan-2? With a high velocity signal there was communication through data. So its not like they were connected with a mobile phone or TV. It would send messages in codes to ISRO that the scientists would then decode.

27.The orbiter that is presently around the moon will keep sending signals and images to ISRO and will be orbiting for the next 7 years.

28.Also the Vikram lander can be connected to for 14 days, so ISRO will keep trying to communicate with it

29.What was the difference between chandrayan-1 and chandrayan-2? Chandrayan 1 was an orbiter that orbited around the moon and took pictures from a distance (100- 200 kms) whereas Chandrayan -2 has an Orbiter and a rover. So the orbiter to orbit around the moon and take photos and the rover to land on the moon and explore 

30. What would have happened if Vikram lander had landed on the moon?
When vikram would have landed on the moon, Pragyan rover attached to Vikram’s door would be exposed to the sun after the door opens. Soon after getting solar energy the rover’s battery would be activated. The rover has 6 wheels with our tricolour and an ISRO logo embossed on it. It would move at a speed of 1 cm per second and use navigation cameras to scan its surroundings. The scanned data would be sent to Vikram to send to ISRO, as Pragyan does not have its own signalling system. During its lifespan of 14 days Pragyan would cover 500 metres on the moon.

31.Your art links can be stamping or embossing the Asoka emblem, singing songs and rhymes, making the models of the Chandrayan, Vikram and Pragyan etc. And helping children express by drawing (don’t forge to document their drawings).

All the best, lets make children aware about Chandrayan-2 and use it to teach ‘academic skills’ the inquiry way.

        If you use this do send me your photos etc. on 9819121384.

       Dr. Swati Popat Vats.






Thursday, 25 July 2019

India’s Independence Day is on the 15th of August and not the 14th of August!



India’s Independence Day is on the 15th of August and not the 14th of August!

Dear Educators and Parents,

We teach children about our independence history, (I hope all schools still teach this!) we teach them about the sacrifices made by Indians to help us achieve the freedom that we now enjoy, and to show our solidarity to each other as citizens of this country. I am sure we teach children about our Independence  so that they grow up valuing their past, savour and enjoy their present, and can make the right decisions about their future.

But then we send very mixed messages when we celebrate Independence Day on the 14th of August, just for our convenience! Did our freedom fighters see their convenience? Would we be enjoying the democratic life we now do, if they had thought about their convenience? Many schools celebrate India’s Independence Day on the 14th of August, forgetting that India got its freedom at midnight on the 14th, so it was 15th of August. Pakistan celebrates its independence day on the 14th, not India. So sorry to say but shame on those who look at their convenience and celebrate India’s Independence Day on the 14th, just so that they can enjoy a holiday!

What kind of a message are we sending to our children, when we see our convenience instead of our duty? What kind of a message are we sending to our children when we don’t give importance to the most important day of our country? And then we say that the young generation has no values, has no sense of belonging. But didn’t they learn this from us? Who was their role model?

This time Independence Day and Rakshabandhan fall on the same day. Rakshabandhan is the celebration of the bond between a brother and sister; blessings and promises are exchanged on that day between a brother and sister. Many schools are forgoing Independence Day celebrations this year so that they and their staff can celebrate Rakshabandhan. Why should it be an ‘or’, why can’t we celebrate both? It takes 10 minutes to hoist the flag, sing the national anthem and pay your tribute to country. Come on, educators, if education is why you have set up your school or are a teacher, then Independence Day and Republic day are your teaching moments. To teach children that we have a duty towards our nation, to teach children that if we want to enjoy the freedom that we have then it is our responsibility to acknowledge the country that has given us that freedom. Bond with your country and then every personal bond will be cherished.  

There are thousands of soldiers at our borders who don’t get to celebrate Rakshabandhan or other festivals with their family. They forgo all that to keep us safe while we get the freedom to cherish and relish our relationships and celebrations. What if all our soldiers saw their convenience?

As a proud Indian citizen and an educator I appeal to all of you, stand up for your country proudly every Independence day…15th of August…and look with pride at the tricolour and sing the national anthem with gusto. Then go home and tie a Rakhi or get a Rakhi tied! In years to come maybe Eid or Ganapati or Onam or Pateti etc. will be on the 15th of August, don’t choose, celebrate both…the sense of pride and freedom of your country and your personal, religious celebration. Jai Hind.

Dr. Swati Popat Vats

Wednesday, 17 July 2019

Sab Bachho ka bhala…desh ka vikas!


Sab Bachho ka bhala…desh  ka vikas!






Sab Bachho ka bhala…desh  ka vikas!
It takes a village to raise a child is a well known quote but I feel in India it should be- The village should raise every child! Because in India our private preschools cater to and do a fairly good job for the children enrolled , but that is just 20% of our child population. The other 80% do not have access to any early childhood education program or have access to but is not of the quality that it should be. Our country proudly runs the largest Integrated Child Development Services (ICDS) or called Anganwadis. But these were established and remain primarily health and  nutrition centers.

What ails our ICDS program?

       Run presently as a health and welfare unit- education is missing.
       Anganwadi sevikas are not qualified in ECE but given training as and when.
       Too many other duties given to the sevikas and ECD  and ECE take a back seat.
       Inspite of a curriculum draft, our ICDS are ill-equipped to follow it due to lack of resources and training

ASAR report and Early Years Education-

Every year the ASAR reports laments the fact that our fifth or eight standard children cannot even read a second standard reading activity etc. This will continue to happen unless we focus on early years education because attendance at a quality preschool from age three predicted better outcomes in English, science, and math when compared with children that had not attended preschool.  Analysis of the Programme for International Student Assessment (PISA) also shows that in most countries, students who had attended at least one year of early learning perform better than those who had not, accounting for students’ socioeconomic background (OECD, 2015, p. 326).

What is the importance and impact of early years education?

It helps children develop the Potential to think rationally, Persist with challenge , Use language, Suppress impulse, Regulate emotion , Respond  to others’ distress, Cooperate with peers, develop Cognitive and  social skills , develop Healthy habits. And hence, the vast differences in the early experiences of a child in the ICDS program and a private program make it unlikely that the two children will ever perform equivalently in school and later employment arena. Its time to invest in early childhood education, especially in our ICDS program to ensure that we take care of the other brain drain!

An oft asked question- is there any research to prove that investing in quality early childhood education programs help a country? The answer is, yes, read the Heckman report.

James J. Heckman is the Henry Schultz Distinguished Service Professor of Economics at the University of Chicago, a Nobel laureate in economics and an expert in the economics of human development. He uncovered a new way of looking at the full picture of the development of human potential. According to him there is too much focus on the development of cognitive skills where knowledge can be tested, rather than on the development of social skills—such as attentiveness, persistence and working with others. When social skills are combined at an early age with cognitive skills, they help create more capable and productive citizens.
Every child needs effective early childhood development to be successful, but disadvantaged children are least likely to get it. Professor Heckman has proven that investing in the early childhood development of disadvantaged children will produce great returns to individuals and society in better education, health, economic and social outcomes—not only saving taxpayers money but increasing our nation’s economic productivity. Everyone gains when we invest, develop and sustain the early development of America’s greatest natural resource—its people.

He highlighted the following benefits of ECE

       Reduced costs in remedial education, healthcare, and criminal justice participation down the line.
   Preschool helps develop the early building blocks of educational success – learning colours and numbers, understanding patterns, realizing that printed words hold meaning.
       It socializes children.
       Any language, hearing or developmental problems a child may have are picked up early.

America tried it and here is the proof- The Hechinger Report-

The Hechinger Report provided an update about data collected from the Perry Preschool Project, explaining first the history of the project: “Nearly 60 years ago, a handful of 3-and-4-year-old black children living in a small city outside of Detroit attended a preschool program known as the Perry Preschool Project. The children were part of an experiment to see if a high-quality educational experience in a child’s early years could raise IQ scores.”

“Led for the last decade by Nobel Laureate James Heckman, an economist at the University of Chicago, the Perry researchers have also looked at school success in terms of persistence to graduation, work success in terms of job retention and life success in terms of physical health and healthy relationships. Perry Preschool children did better on all of these measures than a randomly selected group of their peers who did not attend the preschool.”

 “The latest results from this long-running study, released on May 14, 2019, indicate that children of the now 50-to-55-year old Perry participants reaped the same benefits…67 percent of the adult children of Perry participants completed high school without a suspension, compared to just 40 percent of the children of non-participants.”

Other countries have also starting investing in early years education-

Countries like USA, UK, Australia, and many others have universalized Early Childhood Education. Most of these countries have made it free at least for 15 hours a week or at least one year of ECE Programs. They did this, as they wanted every child to benefit from early childhood care and education so that ‘where you are born’ does not decide ‘where you start from’. It means equal opportunities to every child.

Where you start from does not determine how far you can go-

Gaps in knowledge and ability between disadvantaged children and their more advantaged peers open up long before kindergarten, tend to persist throughout life, and are difficult and costly to close. Taking a proactive approach to cognitive and social skill development through investments in quality early childhood programs is more effective and economically efficient than trying to close the gap later on.

The rate of return for investments in quality early childhood development for disadvantaged children is 7-10% per annum through better outcomes in education, health, sociability, economic productivity and reduced crime. There’s a growing recognition of the value of investing in quality early childhood programs. It’s time to act on the evidence. The sooner we do, the more likely we will be to put our country on the road to greater prosperity that is shared by all.

If for every rupee invested we get back 7 rupees then how is it not economically viable? The problem is, in India, Childcare and Early Childhood Education (ECE) is traditionally viewed from welfare or education perspective, its time we viewed it from an economic perspective. A perspective that countries like USA, UK, Australia and many others have benefited from.

At last years Education World ECE conference in Bengaluru, ECA has recommended Public private partnerships for upliftment of the Anganwadi program-

       Teacher training in ICDS and Balwadis, is completely ignored right now, needs to be outsourced.

       Curriculum management to be given to a private partner.

    Give some incentives in tax and rent to private partners who then ensure the smooth running of a number of centers regulated by a private body like ECA.

       Present model of giving balwadis and anganwadis to NGO to run also needs regulatory body like ECA.

       Common curriculum model and teacher training instead of the present fragmented level of operations.

The world is taking ECE seriously, its time India invested in its youngest citizens, who are not the vote bank but are definitely future nation builders. Let us invest in our children…all our children because how each one of them is brought up will impact all of them and us!

“I believe that each of us must come to care about everyone else’s children. We must come to see that the well being of our own individual children is intimately linked to the well being of all other people’s children. After all when one of our children needs life saving surgery, someone else’s child will perform it, when one of our children is threatened or harmed by violence in the streets, someone else’s child will inflict it. The good life for our own children can be secured if it is also secured for all other people’s children”
- Lillian Katz


I sign off by saying, to our dearest Prime Minister Shri Narendra Modiji that its time to adopt the slogan Sab Bachho ka bhala…desh  ka vikas!

Monday, 20 May 2019

Naughty or Aggressive?




Naughty or Aggressive ?






When I was a preschool teacher, all the ‘naughty’ children were put in my class! And I loved to have them, because I would try and solve the mystery of each child’s ‘naughtiness’. Today ‘naughty’ children are called ‘aggressive’. Any child is labeled aggressive, if the child cannot sit straight while you are telling a story- aggressive! If the child cannot share- aggressive! If the child pushes someone in the park- aggressive!
It is important that parents and teachers understand child development because then they would know what behavior is age appropriate and what needs to be looked into for modification. For example when children in the ages of 2 to 4 years push someone, it is because they lack impulse control and cannot wait for their turn. By age 5 children have learnt social manners and have an understanding of ‘not to hurt others’. So when a 3 year old pushes we need to handle it differently, from when a 5 year old or an 8 year old pushes.
Children get aggressive for many reasons, but the two most  important reasons are  lack of attention and too much attention. When a child feels ignored a child usually reacts aggressively.  When a child is spoilt, then the child wants attention all the time and when that attention is divided or late in coming the child reacts aggressively. It important for adults to make a distinction between the two  as the first one needs love and the second one needs firmness. 
Signs of aggression-
·         moodiness
·         depression
·         inability or disinterest in activities and people
·         not looking at you when you talk to them

Acts of aggression-
·         shouting, screaming.
·         Pushing others.
·         Hitting and harming others or oneself.
·         Running around, jumping, swinging things, throwing things.

We  had a child in one of our schools  that would come to the class and climb the shelves and sit there. No amount of cajoling would bring him down. If brought down the child would walk around hitting and punching other children. Sometimes we would feel he is better off on the shelf! But then other children want to sit on the shelf, so this had to be sorted.  We asked the teacher to start shadowing the child by holding his hand and gently pulling him away when he would try to reach for another child. Everyday as he would enter the class  the teacher  would greet him and take him aside and high five him, and reaffirming about 2 important rules- “we don’t sit on the shelf and we don’t hurt others”. Then she would follow him around by holding his hand. At the end of the day she would tell him what he did well and where he can be better. The child was 3 years old. After 15 days of this, slowly she did not have to hold his hand, she involved him in activities like helping pick up toys or take things from one side of the class to the other. But she noticed that every time his father came to drop him (which was once in 15 days) the child would be too aggressive on those days. Then  we found the cause, the father before dropping him would say, ‘don’t be naughty in school or I will not take you out’.  We  realized that the father was giving negative reinforcement and so we spoke to the father to change his words to , ‘ have fun in school and I will pick you up after school, daddy loves you’
The aggression stopped and the child is well settled now.
Here are some pointers  to monitor and change aggressive behavior
1.     From when did these start? A new baby? A change in the family? A new teacher? Too many milestones together? - like toilet training, eating on their own, brushing their teeth, going to daycare. If too many emotionally draining milestones were clubbed together then the child will naturally always feel overwhelmed and thus may resort to aggressive behavior  often from stress.
2.     How did you handle the first aggression and how are you handling it now? Most parents handle the first few aggressions with ease, by either being kind to the child or laughing it off, but as the frequency increases they tend to change and it is this change that frustrates the child. So be consistent in your way of handling every aggression  and meltdown.
3.     Is the child aggressive only with you or with everyone? This can be because of three reasons-
a.     You may not be giving her choices and so she wants her way – power struggle. So give some choices, like for choosing clothes to wear, the closet is off limits but put three dresses on the bed and have her choose what to wear, this will help you ‘maintain control’ and also give the child the required choice to feel independent and in control.
b.    Mothers usually like to maintain a routine that is good for children but others may not be so strict with her so she perceives you as the ‘only’ person who ‘makes’ her do things. So talk to the other family members to maintain some consistency.
c.     You may unknowingly not be paying her attention when ‘she’ wants. So analyze and work on it. Remember for children even negative attention is good. 
4.     Check how much time you spend with her, is it enough? Kids need 20 minutes of our undivided attention (at least 6 times a day!) but sometimes we end up being on the phone or checking mails or cooking when we are supposed to be giving them our undivided attention.
5.     Do you communicate or instruct? Check your conversations throughout the day are they more instructions and questions? Then you need to give her more time to talk and communicate. 
6.    If you find that nothing works and your child  is just a ‘drama queen’ or ‘meltdown king’ then refrain from labeling them as such. Because when you call them by these names you are opening them up to ridicule and confusing them, which adds more fuel to their already fragile emotions.

 9 ways to handle aggressive behavior-
 
1.     Walking away does not help as it teaches your child that when someone is upset, walk away.
2.     So during an aggressive  tantrum or a meltdown just sit there quietly till it wears out, or give your child a tight hug and keep hugging till she quiets down. Say words like, ‘There, there, I understand’ or just a simple ‘hmmm.’ Ensure that your child is not going to hurt herself or others, if you think she will then just hold her tightly from behind, close to your body.
3.     Reasoning with them during an aggressive meltdown is foolish because during aggressive behavior the pre frontal cortex or the thinking brain has shut down and the primitive brain has taken over which has only 4 responses, fight, flight, flock or freeze. Talk to them and reason with them afterwards or when you are having a happy moment with them.
4.     If your child has the aggressive  meltdown at a public place then just ride it out with a smile on your face for that irritating passerby who glares at you just shrug your shoulder and say,  ‘ Bear with it dear, remember this planet also has kids’. Don’t look embarrassed, as that is the fuel to your toddlers’ public aggression.
5.     Do not lose your temper, aggression does not respond to anger. Do not lock the child, threaten, or tease the child about the behavior.
6.     If the child is being physical, hold the child firmly so the child cannot hurt itself or others.
7.     If the child is screaming and shouting, stand there, ignore and look firmly at the child, till the child stops, or else pick up the child from behind and take the child to another room.
8.     Once the child has calmed down, sit with the child, put your arm around the child, and ask the child what went wrong? how can you help?
9.     Make rules for the child, an agreement between you, and the child about what is not acceptable and compliment the child when it achieves it. Change will be slow but with consistency and persistence it happens.

 Remember not to focus on the aggressive behavior but to focus on the cause of the aggressive behavior.



Dr. Swati Popat Vats