20 May 2010

Sultan Ismail’s life science experiments

Author: hashcookies | Filed under: Taleemnet

For those desperate for fresh educational material which does not throw information at kids, I am happy to introduce Sultan Ismail’s “Simple Tasks, Great Concepts”, which makes life science learning livelier.

The 108 A4 size paperback is published by the NCSTC, Department of Science and Technology, New Delhi 110 016.

The beauty of the book is that it is all in frames, like a profusely illustrated comic book. However, the intent is quite serious. I would go so far as to say that even adults interested in brushing up their basic knowledge of the living world would benefit from going through its pages.

Each page or couple of pages in the volume is dedicated to s simple experiment and the total number of such experiments is one hundred. The steps for generating these experiments are given in panels which ample and obvious illustrations. The answers are disclosed as a result of carrying out the experiment. Dr Ismail rarely discloses the result in advance.

The experiments concern a varied list of issues: observing cell division or mitosis; how nature decomposes; how water percolates through soil; the response of plant roots to moisture; counting your pulse; making a vermicage to observe drilospheres created by earthworms; analysing soil composition; understanding ecological succession; planting trees; measuring rates of photosynthesis; measuring your lung capacity; understanding the idea of a carbon footprint; concept of pH; techniques for identifying adulteration in milk or honey; energy audits at school, etc. I have provided just a sample. As I said there are a hundred.

Today’s schools are boring. Today’s teachers are mostly people in the wrong profession. Children love working with mud, trees, earthworms, water, frogs, animals and of course plants. These are all banned in classrooms on the grounds that they are purportedly unhygienic or dirty or a threat to health. They are taught about life through the use of difficult words printed on the pages of a book made from trees that have been killed for the purpose.

Hopefully, with this new volume from DST and Dr Sultan Ismail – one of the most endearing teachers of our time – children and nature will re-connect and learning will prosper. Any excuse for getting the kids back into the real world is welcome. Congratulations to the team for a marvellous book.

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