When I was visiting the VIDYA School in December, 2015, I was taken to the first batch of Class XI for science. I entered the class and was cheerfully greeted by bright young students and the energy mesmerized me. I called forward young Abhishek and asked him to push the wall.
“Have you applied force on the wall?”
“Yes , I have.” he muttered.
“The wall has some mass.”
‘Yes, sir.” pat came the answer.
“Newton says F=ma, where is the acceleration?”
This started a little chaos in the class with all students ready with their explanation. Some of them were right, some went off on tangents, but that is immaterial. I noticed the shine in the eyes of the kids, immense energy and the enthusiasm to learn.
This small interaction changed my world and I decided to spend some time with the class and work with them on Physics. I worked with the school Physics teacher and to understand where we are and devised the plan. I had to spend a few classes getting to know the students, like how they learn, and what excites them. While I know physics well enough to teach it, I had to resort to using Khan Academy’s and Walter Lewin’s Physics lecture series to learn how to effectively build the concepts step-by-step. I must admit that I spend about 3-4 hours to prepare for a 2 hour class, every time! When I’m in taking the class, time flies and I don’t realize when the allocated 1 hour 45 minutes gets over and I have to be thrown out of the class! But we did have a lot of fun. We dealt with many interesting phenomena:
· Why doesn’t a bicycle fall while being driven?
· How does a refrigerator work?
· Why does a car with wider tyres stop at the same distance as compared to a car with narrower tyres, when the breaks are applied?
· How do you apply Newton’s 3rd law to reach your base space station, if you are stranded away from it by a few meters?
It was fun to reward a right answer with a toffee. It was fun to sometimes create confusion to explain a point. It was fun to follow the democratic process to vote for 2-3 alternate answers. It was fun to pick up one student to hand over the chalk to him/her with a request to solve a numerical on the board. It was always pleasant to look at the curious faces, eager to learn and participate. Its been great fun for me, and very rewarding indeed for me personally.
The current session is now coming to an end.
We have new sessions starting in April and I am now looking forward having even more fun learning together with these kids, now with both Class XI and Class XII!
Thanks VIDYA for giving me this opportunity, and thank you students for being with me and putting in your best!!
He is an alumni of IIT Delhi, one of India's most prestigious universities.