Friday, February 9, 2018

STEM Fun in Classrooms

Khyati Datt from our Outreach Team shares a snapshot of how our STEM books have been faring in classrooms across India.

Maths and Science are not the most favourite subjects of many children. Children find them daunting and difficult to cope with, because of the manner that they are presented to them in. However, when concepts are presented in a fun and engaging manner, children find it easier to grasp and retain them. 

STEM focussed texts give knowledge to children the way it is used in the real world, with concepts and subjects interwoven seamlessly. As a result, students engage and apply concepts in a deeper, more thorough way, leading to a greater understanding of the concepts. 

Thanks to a grant from Oracle, Pratham Books has developed a special set of picture books exploring STEM topics. The books cover a range of topics like Science topics imploring why poories puff and fireflies glow, Maths topics including estimation of distances, division, multiplication and logical reasoning and Tech-first concepts like Artificial Intelligence. The book set also includes books exploring multiple Environment related topics and a few on Emotional Quotient too.

The grant had also made possible the distribution of 100 libraries. For this, Pratham Books invited applications from NGOs, Government and affordable private schools to apply to receive free Library-in-a-Classroom sets with the STEM books created. We received an overwhelming response from 120+ organizations and schools across 22 Indian states collectively seeking 980 libraries.

A STEM library in one of the PRATIGYA centres
Fun with STEM!

The books are being used by both children and teachers. The children are doing fun classroom activities like skits, role playing and participating in group discussions on topics in the books. The teachers are using the books for read alouds and are also preparing activities, assessments and quizzes. A teacher working with a school in Laila, in Dakshin Karnataka remarked:
“Children enjoy the books and often request for permission to take them home, in order to show it to their parents.”
Source: GUPS Laila, a school SELCO Foundation works with

The STEM books are loved by children because the concepts mentioned in them are relatable. Children love Why Does A Poori Puff Up? as it addresses a question most of us have thought as children. Or a story like Dum Dum-a-Dum Biryani! brings forth not only the memory of accomplishing something with our siblings but also the real-time application of the Maths we were taught. Other books that were well received by children include Reeti and Mithu, Happy Maths , How do Aeroplanes Fly?, Jadav and
the Tree-Place and How Old Is Muttaji?.

Nandhini, a student from one of the classrooms that Isha Education works with, says “I love the book DIVE! because it’s about sea animals and has very colourful pictures”.

The STEM books being read in GUPS, Warknalli, one of the schools that SELCO
Foundation works with
A teacher from Adarsh High School in Bengal, summarizes the impact of STEM books on her children perfectly, “Children love to discuss various topics of books and they ask their teachers about the unknown phenomenons like gravitational pull, electromagnetic radiations, atomic structure etc. These topics are out of the scope of their syllabus but they find them interesting. These books are helping them to understand many complex things and satisfying their curiosity.”

The books have widened the lens through which children look at the world and interact with it. They practice mathematical concepts like division and multiplication using Dum Dum-a-Dum Biryani! and common vegetables, read Jadav and the Tree-Place to understand the importance of forests, and go on an adventure deep under the sea with DIVE!

The power of storytelling creates a great platform for fostering an interest in STEM learning, alongside creating a reading culture where reading is not restricted in the confines of the classrooms and the textbooks.

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