Tuesday 26 March 2019

Ecology Class with a Difference - #15 Visit to Kaluveli Watershed

As a culminating class, the Ecology group went on a day long field trip to see the various components we learned about through the year - mangroves and salt pan at Marakkanam, Muttukadu sand dunes, TDEF at Kaluveli. Here is an account of the trip by a student:

We 6thers along with Mahesh Anna, Jaysudha Aunty and Aqsa Aunty, Aneesa, Rafia and Ansiya Aunties left Chennai at 6am and had a fun breakfast at Ananda Adyar Bhavan.  

We reached Marakkanam at around 9:30am. We met Lourdes Uncle, Kamala Aunty and Azhagappan Uncle and two others from PFC. We went to an estuary and we all went into the shallow water river near a lot of mangroves. We saw ghost crabs. The shell of a ghost crab was like a lot of spirals mixed together. Then we went deeper into the water and found a lot of algae and a lot more. But the time we went the tide was in, but if the tide had been out we could have reached more deeper without even touching the water.

Our next stop was the Muttukadu sand dunes. This sand dune is the second tallest in Tamil Nadu. I can never believe that we climbed a 65 feet sand dune, I don’t think you would believe it either. On the top of the sand dune we sat under the tree and we saw a herd of cute goats, but they ran away so we couldn’t touch them. Next we went down and up the sand dune again, IT WAS AMAZING!

Then our next stop was the Marakkanam salt mines. When we went there we found little mountains filled with rock salt. We went into the and got a taste of fresh salt that was just made. After we had to remove our slippers to mine some salt on our own. When we watched them make salt if felt easy, but when we tried to mine it felt like the toughest job on earth! Then we got to our next stop to eat lunch.

We had lunch at Naddukuppam. We went to a big hut. There we ate and prayed salah. Then we had a little break where we found a bunch of rocks making a circle and a big tree sticking out at the middle. We liked that space as the best resting spot.

Aunty then called us to gather back at the hut to meet the creator of the Adyar Poonga. He was Joss Brooks. He is also making the Neddakupam forest a little more green by planting about 50 saplings a day. He talked to us. He said he didn't have any degree. "Don't let school get in the way of learning. You don't need a degree. Be gardeners. The world needs gardeners." He asked how many kids wanted to become wildlife biologists and 3 raised their hands. Two of our classmates spoke about the Organic Terrace Garden and the Medicinal plants business at our school. Jos asked us to stay overnight. We all begged Aunty if we could, but the only answer she gave was "No!"

Then we because went to see the Neddakupam forest all around. We saw the rice plants. When we entered there was a little pond that was filled with what looked like mud. We asked Uncle what it was. He said it was cowdung which fertilizes the field. We saw solar panels. One panel is used for the current in the buildings. He also showed us the wind mill which is used for making electricity.

We climbed up to a nice room on top of a building. The breeze was so good that we pretended that our feet was glued to the floor. Then we went to see a house that was fully made of recycled things and it was awesome. After that Aunty said that we have to go back to school. In the bus we also had brownies.
          DID YOU KNOW

       That rock salt was in shapes of cubes and it was also hollow in the middle. Well this will be a fact every day for who ever eats SALT!

By Fareeha Rafeek

Wednesday 20 March 2019

Top ranking Asset Talent Scholars - 2 Golds and 1 Bronze

MashaAllah 3 of our students are top ranked in the prestigious Asset Talent Search examination 2018. Congratulations to Safwan Samsudeen, Abdul Majid Syed and Hanan Samsudeen.

Safwan and Abdul Majid were ranked as Gold Scholars - for scoring in the top 5 percentile. Hanan was ranked as a Bronze Scholar for scoring in the top 15 percentile.

The Asset Talent Search is a by-invitation only examination conducted across India and UAE. Students who scored in the top 10 percentile in the regular Asset exams are invited back to take this above level test. About 10,000 students are selected from a pool of about 4 lakh students. 11 students from Al Qamar had qualified for this exam in 2018.

The students are eligible now for summer programs in prestigious American universities like UC Berkeley, Northwestern, as well as the Asset Summer Program for Gifted students.

Saturday 16 March 2019

Street Theatre workshop

Wonderful workshop on Street Theatre by Victor Jayraaj of Future Impact Learning. "Street theatre is the rawest form of theatre" Victor explained.  With unique features like a public place for performance, improvisation, connection with the audience, lack of props, street theatre has been a popular medium for connecting with the common man on the street. Street theatre is used all over the world to convey educational, social or political messages. 

Victor went onto outlining the elements of street theatre - use of exaggerated gestures, players as props, use of sound, mime and mimicry.  Children got to practice formations like a helicopter, car, a castle etc.

The fun part was learning mimicry with Ashwin, another member of the threatre company. Children thoroughly enjoyed modulating their voices, facial expresssions and using gestures.

InshaAllah the children will be writing a script for a street play which will be performed on Open Day.

The workshop was organised by Future Impact Learning as a part of the Public Speaking class.

Thursday 14 March 2019

Green Dreams - the Al Qamar students startup venture

The 6th grade Entrepreneurship Club at Al Qamar has come a long way from the time it started in July. The  group of 7-10 students are participating in the School Enterprise Challenge, a global business planning and execution competition which guides students through the various stages of running a sustainable business. Students have to design a business around the 3Ps -  Profit, People and Planet.

The team submitted their Annual Plan - which detailed the performance of Green Dreams in the past 3 months.

The team had multiple sale events - both within and outside the school. Their drive and initiative is to be commended. From the Beach Sale during Pongal holidays, to participating in the Anjuman Ladies Fair, to setting shop at the Redwood Organic Fair, our team did it all!

The Green Dream team learned how to set prices, modify them when sales were low, create inviting ads, use social media by developing a website and a Facebook page.  They picked up the basics of accounting - to record revenue and expenses and how to calculate their profit/ loss.

This was a fantastic experience for the children to learn the nitty gritty of how to set up a start up venture and make it successful. Kudos!

Wednesday 6 March 2019

Reading, reading, reading and more reading

Passionate about reading... especially with the ongoing Read-a-thon and the weekly DEAR (Drop Everything and Read) time.

Inculcating the reading habit is a one of the key pedagogical techniques at Al Qamar. With reading, comes a development of comprehension skills, improved spelling, understanding of grammar usage, and an expanded vocabulary. In a fun, stress free manner.

Hence, annually the last two months of school are devoted to a Read-a-thon. Kids win points for books they read. They accumulate the points and exchange them for gifts. At the end of the term, there's a gala party - ice creams, pizzas, excursion to the Anna Library.....

And the best impact - kids get off devices.

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...