Thursday 31 August 2017

Ancient Pottery workshop

2nd Pre History workshop at the Sharma Centre for Heritage Education. This time the workshop was on Pottery. The children had to put back pottery shards to reconstruct pots. They made pots using different techniques like pinching, slab building and coiling. They were fascinated to discover that Roman, Chinese and Persian pottery was discovered in Tamil Nadu testifying to a trade between these empires. They learned about burial urns found in Tamil Nadu.
Frankly one workshop at the Sharma Centre teaches more than a whole month of history. Beautifully designed workshops with a good blend of lecture and hands on.
Pity the poor kids who have to sit in a boring class to learn this fascinating stuff. Schools - please contact the Centre and organise these workshops for your kids.
Again, a big shout out to Shanti Pappu and her team.

Talk by Alim from Madina University

Superb talk by Tariq Huq for Elementary students. Tariq talked about why he chose to Hifz of the Holy Quran and why he decided to pursue a BA in Economics at Loyola and in the Sharia at the Islamic University in Medinah. He key point was that children should consider pursuing careers that combine the deen and the dunya. He narrated how scholars of the past were both well versed in Sharia as well was the sciences. Cases like Ibn Rushd, Ibn Taymiyyah helped the children understand his point. He spoke about the importance of dua for success in the hifz process, the support of his parents in taking this unconventional route and the need for living life as per the Quran.
Tariq talked about life at the University which fascinated the children. They loved seeing pictures of student displays at International cultural fests and trying to guess the country.
The question answer session had children asking about what he wants to do next, how he travelled in Medinah, did he have to wear a uniform.....
JazakAllah Khair Tariq for taking the time out to come speak to the children.

Astronomy research presentations by Upper Elementary

Research presentations by Upper Elementary - Grades 4-7. The topics in the last two months were Astronomy and Geology.

In the first research project on Astronomy, 8 teams across multiple classes formed teams to research on a topic of interest to them. They chose the Solar System, Big Bang, Galaxies, Star factoids, the Sun etc. Teams had less than a month to research and put together their work. Some presentations were in the form of charts, a powerpoint presentation and one team member even made an animated video explaining the Sun. Teams faced questions from the audience and I think they acquitted themselves well! 

In the 2nd research project, the teams gave group presentations on Volcanoes, the Structure of the Earth, Fossils, Earthquakes and Tsunamis. Well researched and innovative presentations. Some teams made models to demonstrate their findings.

Wednesday 30 August 2017

Workshop held on designing board games

Most kids play board games - but how many get to create and design one?

Elementary students at Al Qamar got just that opportunity working with Santhosh of Bambaram Toy Library. They're undergoing a 3 part workshop series of which the first was held yesterday. Eventually, they will end up designing their own board game after designing and prototyping mentored by Santhosh.

After an ice breaker, children played Scattergories to get a flavour of a board game. Santhosh then handed out different board games - Checkers, Spell-o-fun, Taboo, Rush Hour etc. The challenge - create or modify this into a new game. The kids came up with all sorts of ideas. Some even tested their new game by playing it.
One group modified Othello into an interesting one - a player can choose whether to flip the opponent's coins or add some of her own. Another group created new rules for Rush Hour - where an ambulance has to get out. A third team created a chess like game from checkers - where the coins occupy a triangular space in a corner.

In the next few workshops, children concretised the ideas they'd developed over the course of the last three weeks. In this session , they drew out their game boards and made game pawns using playdoh. They wrote out their instruction sheets.

Guided and mentored by Santhosh, they saw a rough prototype of their ideas taking shape - a feeling of great achievement and satisfaction.

Games range from a Trekking Game where teams race to the top of a summit, a home board game where a child seeks to becoming "visible" to her mommy, a race from office to home where the challenge is to spend a certain amount of money, a maze, a fairytale land, one on a carnival, another on some Green Snakes (!).

Amazing creativity

Wednesday 16 August 2017

Learning About Haj

The Annual Haj activity took place right before the Eid holidays. Children dressed up like Hajis. They stayed in mini tents like in Mina, visited Arafat where an older student led them in dua, stoned at Jamarath and finally did a little Sa'ee.  The children love this activity which helps them understand the process of Haj.  

This year, the entire process was handled by the 5th graders - who set up the tents, guided the children through each step, led them in dua and generally managed the entire process beautifully.

Tuesday 15 August 2017

Independence Day 2017 celebrated

Independence Day was celebrated on 15th August at Al Qamar with great fervour.

We were honoured to have Dr. Sultan Ismail, noted scientist, conservationist, ecologist and educationist, as the Chief Guest.

Dr. Ismail spoke about the key importance of certain values - punctuality, cleanliness, healthy eating as vital to our nation. He encouraged the children to take inspiration from the national flag in their eating habits - but including something orange, white and green in their food daily.

Dr. Ismail gave away the Annual Awards for 2016 and honoured the prize winners from last year. He also visited the exhibition of books written by Al Qamar students on environmental and social issues.

The young students presented a cultural program - with speeches and songs.

Maker Fest held

The Grand Al Qamar Maker Fest was held after the Independence Day celebrations.  9 teams from Grades 4-7 participated.  The Challenge : Make "something" which will bring an egg down safely when launched from the terrace.All teams were provided with an indentical set of supplies. And had one and a half hours to make their invention. The winning criteria - the egg must not break or crack, the least amount of material used, the most innovative engineering. 

The Rocky Boyz came up with a plastic bag stuffed with balloons. The Funky's Play had a neat straw and sponge lined tray. The Purple Pygmy Puffs stuffed their egg into a plastic funnel and lined the sides with semi blown up balloons.  The Challengerz Playz and Dragon Warriors - both from the 4th grade - had simple solutions - a plastic bag parachute carrying a funnel with the egg. 

The teams had IITian Hauroon Jamal judging their inventions.  Finally, he chose the simplest and most effective inventions by the Dragon Warriors and the Challengerz Playz!

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...