I went on an event for Child for Child on 21st December with a team of 25 students from our ME center Holy Mother English School, located in Malwani (Malad) to Ryan International School. These are underprivileged children and belong to households with poor financial standings and can hardly afford to have such experiences. All of them, after the session came back with an experience of lifetime.
At the venue, our students spent considerable time at the Atal Tinkering Lab. The Lab Instructor shared a brief background on the journey of ‘Atal Tinkering Labs’ and explained the various components that make up the lab (such as drilling workstation, mechanical workstation, printing, etc). Soon after, a student from Ryan presented some of his projects, the concepts behind the project and the scientific principles involved. Inspired by this, our students shared their own experiences and ideas on ‘how can they develop a buzzer with LED blinkers that signal when the water tanker is full, thereby avoiding wastage of water’. Later on, we were taken to the assembly hall where cultural programs, games as well as Christmas gift distribution was organised for the students, all of which they thoroughly enjoyed.
On our way back from Ryan, I took the opportunity to speak with our students, and learn about their overall experiences and takeaways from the event. It was amazing to know that even if they cannot get much facilities these underprivileged children have so many great ideas.
“So, what did you like the most?” I asked the students. About 6 eager hands sprung up in the air, unable to contain their excitement and keen to share their observations with me. “Access to the tinkering lab where students can create and design so many innovative science projects”, said one. “The sprawling campus and the cleanliness all around”, said another.
As I was keenly making mental notes, next came the response “the student councils facilitated the entire event effortlessly. I couldn’t help but notice they needed very little directions from their teachers. They must be well-prepared”. This was very well articulated, I thought to myself. “Didi… the students who performed cultural activities such as choir and group dance were so confident, graceful and looked so happy. Their coordination was perfect.” “These are certainly the qualities I would like to imbibe”, whispered one of the quietest students in the group, almost in agreement with the previous response.
Come to think of it, these are not surface-level observations and certainly not intended to please anyone – these responses came straight from the heart and with a genuine sense of appreciation and admiration! The tinkering lab was a great opportunity for underprivileged children to draw inspiration from their counterparts at Ryan, and identify problems in their daily lives that could be solved by way of possessing a scientific bent of mind, and a bit of thoughtfulness!
In all honestly, I didn’t quite anticipate the profoundness! Sure, I was thrilled about the potential outcome of such exchange programs that enable student-to-student interaction, provide much needed exposure to students from under-resourced schools, while also sensitizing students in elites schools. However, I was fearful that without any orientation, this experience could be a bit overwhelming for some students if not all.
Their eyes light up and their excitement knows no bounds every time the students share their experiences from Ryan, and that to me is an indicator of the success and impact of such programs.
To enable more underprivileged children to go to school and have such experiences you can visit https://www.smilefoundationindia.org/me/