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Science For School Children

The Problem

Smart children from the rural and semi-rural areas face the disadvantage of not having access to effective secondary education and are hence unable to enter the higher education domain. This leads to an indirect loss of intellectual capital to the nation.

The Solution

NIIT Foundation has initiated activities to identify and provide the necessary support to smart children entering secondary education (Class 8/13-14years) in terms of supplemental training so that they can pursue main stream higher education. The targeted area is science education to improve their scientific and analytical abilities. Several specially designed science kits and activities will be used in workshop mode to:

  • Identify bright students from semi-rural schools
  • Inculcate a scientific and analytical bent of mind in these children and bring back fun into science learning

The CAX Approach

In the IT-enabled science education market there are Computer-Based Training packages (CBTs) that allow a student to use the computer as a learning tool. There are also Computer Based Instruments (data loggers) that allow a student to use the computer as a measuring/data logging tool. The former gives access to theory with no scope for experimentation and observation while the latter allows only experimentation and does not give access to theory.

Integrating computer-based instruments with computer-based instruction can bring about a radical shift in the way science is taught. It would allow the student to both study theory and perform experiments to verify theory at the computer itself leading to several advantages; the most important being a new way of designing lessons that places the student in the shoes of a scientist.

The Components

A typical Computer Assisted Experimentation package consists of:

  • The PC-based Instrument – measures real world parameters such as voltage, temperature, current etc. and is interfaced to the computer
  • The Experimental Kit consists of specially designed lab equipment to be used in conjunction with the PC-based instrument
  • The Computer-based Lesson CBTs that can communicate with the PC-based instrument

The Advantages

From the learner’s point of view

  • Allows students to learn as well as conduct experiments at the computer itself.
  • Eliminates delay between theory and practice.
  • Frees students from tedious data capturing so that they can concentrate on observing and inferring.

From the teacher’s point of view.

  • A powerful tool to demonstrate science to students.
  • Frees teacher from “lecturing”.

From the school’s point of view

  • A low cost science station.
  • Value addition to already existing computers.

The Product

The Centre for Research in Cognitive Systems (CRCS), a research wing of NIIT Foundation, conceptualized and created three CAX kits “Electricity, Heat and Sound” addressing the needs of Class 7 to Class 10. The technology is marketed by NIIT K-12, a division of NIIT Ltd. A unique feature of CAX is that the lesson constantly monitors the experiment being done, detects if the student makes any mistake and gives appropriate feedback.

The Electricity Series

The Electricity Series consists of an electricity board and components, a data capture and control unit and a computer-based lesson. The computer-based lesson includes a set of experiments and exercises involving measuring of current and voltage. These experiments are graded so that the child can progress from constructing simple to complex circuits.

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The Heat Series

The Heat Series consists of conveniently packaged components to perform experiments such as Newton’s Law of Cooling, Good and Bad conductors, etc. The package allows plotting of two temperature channels simultaneously thus aiding understanding and reducing experiment time.

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The Sound Series

To bring out the scientist in each child, the Sound Series has been designed to excite students’ interest and instruct them in the basics of scientific method: observation, experimentation, and deduction. Hence each experiment has been designed based on the nature of experiment. Students can do experiments such as Determining the Speed of Sound and Finding your Hearing Range with ease.

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