Friday 31 March 2017

Open Day @ Al Qamar 2016-17

Open Day @ Al Qamar - a huge success. With over a 120 people attending - each child had a great audience. Open Day is a showcasing of research projects by our students. The projects surpassed all expectations MashaAllah, especially since they were done independently by the students.
Here are some of the 6th & 7th grade projects which were outcomes of the Spark Science Club and the "Self Directed Learning" classes.
One SDL project was on innovation in cooking - how cooking technology has changed over time. Another project mapped what drives innovation in transportation. Students identified various variables and mapped different means of transport to these. Another project was on understanding factors which drive "Animal Migrations" while the last was on Chennai - its maps, streets, flora and fauna.
Spark science Club had some fascinating projects. One student studied whether children learn better inside or outdoors. Some worked on seeing if children preferred gadgets or books, whether people get influenced by fancy brands, or they liked microwave or oven baked pizzas. A 7th grader tested the caffeine content in filter and instant coffees, while a 6th grader tried to find whether dosa batter fermented faster at warm or cool temperatures. A cool project was seeing whether natural or chemical mehndi lasts longer.
Upper Elementary Exhibits ranged from results of science investigations,Math puzzles, geography research, Nanowrimo extracts, science experiments, and other fascinating projects. 
The Upper Elementary tour started with a project on Maths - which included a history of maths, an overview of different number systems, and a bowl full of math puzzles. If that didn't have your head spinning, the next one dealt with Storyboarding - how to make a storyboard, a dummy book, yada yada. Included samples. Then we moved onto a bunch of experiments which demonstrated the properties of air, conducted very professionally by a young man. A culminating geography project on "My Island" took us to a wondrous land - where the student outlined the physical, political, historical and economic geography of an island he invented. Next came a science investigation into the efficacy of a non electric air conditioner - one which uses waste plastic bottles! Following that one were the results of a psychology experiment designed to understand what kind of books kids like - fiction or non fiction. Next was a project on solar energy where the student not only presented his research, but also demo'd solar energy using models he had made. Up next was a city made with junk. To relieve the mood came a bunch of fun experiments demonstrating the properties of water. And one which demonstrated rainwater harvesting using a child crafted model. A well researched project on gemstones followed - with many interesting bits of trivia. Up next were projects on photosynthesis, more cars, the Kabah, a travel write up, a display of beautiful crafts and a project on chocolates. Yes, with real home made chocolates! 
Lower Elementary (Grades 1-3) on Open Day@ Al Qamar - just super work! From a thorough research project on Volcanoes (Completely independently done by 2nd Grader, mind you!) to different designs for paper planes done by a Montessori child (the only one elevated to Lower Elem for a day), to an analysis of Female characters in Fiction books (which included an old favourite - Anne from the Famous Five and Mathilda from Dahl), the projects were amazing. A 1st grader did a lovely project on Athletics while a project on Cats and Kittens was a testimony to the careful detailed observations made by a 2nd grader of her pets. Two impressive ones were on the 4 Caliphs and Women Sahabas - extremely well written and presented. Three young men decided to quiz the visitors on African animals, Asian landmarks and Asian animals, while a young lady had us breaking our heads on Optical Illusions. One had incredible sketches of different continental animals while another dealt with Sea Creatures. A 3rd grader astounded me with his research on deserts - teaching me a thing or two! Then there were the "Maker" ones - lego cars, inventions with junk which included really funky stuff. Just to reiterate - projects were selected and executed independently by the children.
MashaAllah, kiddos - you totally wow'ed everyone.

Wednesday 15 March 2017

Series of Bookmaking workshops held

An amazing workshop today on Bookmaking - by K Ramnath Chandrasekhar. This was the first of the 4 sessions and was attended by students from Grades 4-7.
After the children had watched a documentary on the conservation efforts to save the Amur Falcon, they brainstormed what kind of people create change. They then created a group story. Ramnath taught how to create a story map using the group story.
Then children spent time creating a synopsis, drawing the characters and making story maps. Ramnath emphasized the goal - the creation of stories around social issues. This will be a take off point for the next step where they start working on actual books.
Absolutely brilliant. Wish I was more than just a fly on the wall!

Sunday 12 March 2017

STEM Workshop for other school students held

A STEM worshop was held for students who won prizes at the Supernova '17 at Al Qamar Academy.
The purpose of the workshop was to enthuse these students towards STEM fields. The sessions used the approach followed at Al Qamar Academy for teaching.
Hauroon led an inquiry based science workshop for the Juniors where students learned the process of science. They tested the swing of a pendulum under different conditions to understand the effect of variables in a science experiment.  They also checked the co-relation between the volume of a cup floating in water and the capacity to carry weight. 
Hauroon also led the Math sessions for the Juniors where the participants worked on tough math puzzles. The initial ones were hard, but they soon got the hang of it.
The Sub-Juniors had a morning session on the process of digestion. The participants chewed roti, conducted starch tests on various food stuff. They checked potato juice for starch initially and then again after the juice had been swished around in their mouths for 5 minutes and well mixed with saliva. The participants squashed banana through a plastic bag foodpipe, mangled and mushed it in a plastic bag stomach and then poured the juices into intestines (socks) and watched the juice come streamig out. "Disgusting" said one participant happily!
The Sub Junior math sessions had the kids playing a Factor game, and solving tough problems on sequences and numerical puzzles.
The most enjoyable session was the "Egg Drop" engineering challenge. Teams had to construct something which would carry an egg safely down from the roof. Most teams made a parachute - but their designs differed when it came to the egg carrier. Some made baskets with funnels, other made a solid cage with sponge. The girls (GO GIRLS!!!) attached 3 balloons to the bottom of their carrier to cushion the impact. MashaAllah, all designs were fabulous - none of the eggs broke.

Talk on "How to be an Ally for your child"

Mrs. Vidya Shankar, Founder of the Relief Foundation, spoke to parents and teachers about Montessori. In a talk titled "How to be an ally for your Montessori child", Mrs Shankar outlined the ways a adult must transform themselves in order to help their Montessori child achieve fulfillment.  She stressed the need for an alignment between the home and the school and encouraged moms to form Montessori study circles.  Mrs Shankar strongly discouraged TV or any screen time, highlighting the dangers of these activities.  Parents asked a number of questions about discipline, home activities, TV and appropriate books.

Saturday 11 March 2017

Russian School of Maths results are out. Congratulations!

Delighted with my students' performance at the Russian School of Mathematics ( competition.  Hanan (Gr 3), Safwan (Gr 4), Ameeth (Gr 4), Hani (Gr 6) and Abdurrahman (Gr 7) were all rated as "Internationally competitive".   

Au Revoir

  Au Revoir  The crucible moment came for me when, 16 years ago, I pulled my 7 year old son from school. Once again. Thrice in four years. W...