Skip to main content

School Science Education Workshop at IISER Pune

The following blog post is a compilation of notes by Ridhi Agarwal, TeachForIndia Pune Fellow 2014

Mr. Kamal Mahendroo spoke about the Hoshangabad Science Teaching Programme, which is under Eklavya <>

The three pillars of the HSTP were:
  • Development of Scientific Temper. (Scientific temper is the implementation of scientific method in every problem in our life.)
  • The modern times need technical and scientific literacy.
  • Science education is the foundation of the technological or scientific development of the society.

Some thoughts and questions he posed in front of the group were as follows:
  • How do we build scientific temper?
  • What are you teaching them and what is being assessed in science assessments?
  • Joy of learning vs Joy in learning. This was to stress upon doing activities and experiments for entertainment and engagement during lessons as opposed to doing activities and experiments to attain deeper learning and work on deeper development of every kid.
  • Lastly, he spoke of something that baffled the group. The competitive exam which find us our future scientists and engineers, etc. are assessing students on syllabus which is of higher rigour and sometimes of different content. Hence, the school syllabus is redundant for them and they HAVE to take extra classes. This seems to be feeding into a hidden economic agenda of the coaching centres and other educational institutes.
Teachers as partners
  • Teachers should be equal partners towards education development and research.
  • Initiatives need to be taken to turn zero-resource classrooms to low-cost-resource classrooms.
  • For Activity Based Learning, there should be a continuum between activity/experiments and learning.
  • The wheel of teaching and learning needs to be established in the mind-set of teachers. Teachers need to DO the experiments themselves and record their observations and make inferences. Only then can they be confident enough to execute those in class and answer the questions.
  • High stress was given to need for Peer-Learning among teachers and the setting up of teacher communities and teacher networks and create teacher development activities for them.
  • Epistemological beliefs: Teacher beliefs are strong and difficult to break. However, they need to be challenged to bring change in classrooms and teaching practices. Some epistemological beliefs will be discussed in the Math Research section below.
  • These teacher beliefs will only change with different experiences and observations. A platform or community needs to be set up for this.
  • Students have their own imagination and interpretation of what they hear, see or experience. What you have said or done might not be understood or interpreted the same way in the mind of your students. [This was a thought point given to us to explore.]
  • There needs to be an organic link between education departments and parent (content) departments for strengthening teachers and helping them master their subjects. For example, a teacher undergoing B.Ed. in Math method should be expanding his/her knowledge along with a Math professor or student under the B.Sc. or M.Sc. courses.
  • Crisis builds curiosity and sparks passion in students. Experiments are essential for building scientific temper in kids. Although, Science promotes ONE solution to a problem but there is no SINGLE observation or conclusion to every experiment. The students need to understand the importance of observation, inferencing, discussions and deliberations and these should be encouraged by teachers in every lesson and every topic. That is when the scientific temper will develop in kids.
Science Education Research by Jayashree Ramdas
  • Spatial Cognition in Science
  • SOTL – Scholarship of teaching and learning
  • POGIL – Process oriented guided inquiry learning
  • Confirmation bias among experimenters (students or teachers). This is relevant to activity based learning)
  • Alternative conceptions are present in kids and hence there is a difference in interpretation of the same content taught in every child.
  • Research needs to be done in how knowledge is organized in the memory and hence inform the methods of concept mapping for students.
  • Effects of socio-cultural factors on science education: STSE (Science, Technology, Society and Environment education), SSI (Socio-Scientific Issues).
  • Effects of different learning environments (Classroom, tuition, home, self-study) on learning.
  • Education Research is being done on how different disciplines are taught: DBER (Discipline-Based Education Research)
The points mentioned above can easily be looked up on Google and information can be obtained. I shall add explanations as and when I explore them.

Math Education Research by Ravi Subramaniam
  • The session by Prof. Ravi was on the topic “What Math teachers need to know (and need to DO)?”
  • Teachers need to DO science and math in order to learn from it and teach.
  • Teachers will be ready for solving questions and doubts ONLY IF they do the math they are going to teach. Personal experience is essential to be more responsive in their teaching.
  • Some essential concepts that came out were:
    • Teachers need to understand every concept in-depth. The deeper math hidden in every concept should be known before teaching it to the kids. It builds confidence in the teacher and they are able to answer students’ doubts.
    • There is a lot of math hidden in elementary math and that is exciting and essential to explore.
    • This is the PCK (Pedagogical Content Knowledge) that teachers need to have. Teachers' Integration of Subject Matter, Pedagogy, Students, and Learning Environments.
    • Example: What is the connection between division and multiplication?
  • Epistemological beliefs relating to Math which came out during their research were as follows:
    • Students should be taught the right way to solve.
    • Repeated practice is the best way to deal with errors.
    • How can students answer the questions if not taught?
    • Paying attention to the teacher is important to learn anything.
He argued that these aren’t essentially true. Students can arrive at the right way to solve; errors can be resolved in other ways too; and peer learning is another way students can learn.

Post these talks we had the following resource-persons come and talk about their organization:
  1. Manish Jain, Toys from Trash spoke on Hands-on Science.
  2. Tamara Philip, Avasara Academy spoke on Excitement and Enquiry in Science.
  3. Reema, Disha spoke on how they bring quality science education to low income communities.
  4. Gayatri Kshirsagar, Exciting Science spoke on the projects they undertake to expose students to the scientific community.
  5. Tarun Ayitam, Sciensation spoke about his venture to make science cool for students and teachers.
  6. Md. Irfan, spoke about his science centre in Nanded where he holds demonstrations of science experiments and trains students to perform experiments independently.