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Science Poster Method

The problem in learning:
It is hard to disagree with the fact that a constant problem faced by primary school teachers is the lack of attention span of the children they are teaching. This lack of attention can be traced to a large extent to the dry mode of instruction particularly in a country like India, where the system focuses more on memorizing of concepts rather than on understanding them. Compounding the problem even further for the underprivileged children in certain regions of the country is the fact that in such areas there may be a dearth of teachers or one teacher may be teaching many subjects. It may also happen that the teacher teaching science may not be with a good science background. The condition of the tribal children of Maharashtra illustrates this situation pertinently. Although the state government has opened Ashramshalas or residential schools for tribal children, it happens many times that the teacher is in great need of supportive material which will help him/her give confidence in science teaching.

As Navnirmiti (NN) holds the Universalisation of primary education as its topmost priority, to ensure quality education to the tribal children came up as an imperative in front of the NN team. In 2001 some members of the NN team met Prof. Paul Webb of the education department of the University of Port Elisabeth, Johannesburg and were introduced to a science poster kit developed by Prof. Webb and his team. After having looked at the kit, the NN team felt that his method can be adapted and extended for tribal school children of Maharashtra. It was with this belief that Navnirmiti started its own Science Poster Project.

The Science Poster Project:
The Science Poster Project undertaken by Navnirmiti, aimed to develop a set of interactive colour posters on the lines of the South African kit, to cover class 5 syllabus based on the curriculum of the Maharashtra Government.
The attempt in designing the color posters was to transmit a playful and cheerful mood, enhance curiosity and create interest in science.

The posters which are being developed by Navnirmiti are envisaged to be full size _____ x ________ posters and will be made in such a way that there are two parts of the posters, the front and the back. The front part which faces the class will contain a colour picture and the back part which faces the teacher will contain a write up in the form of a set of questions and answers related to the picture. The write up will serve as a guideline for the teacher to teach the subject. The questions are ordered in such a way that they follow a deductive flow and children are guided by the questions to help understand the subject and arrive at the conclusions by themselves. The answers given on the rear side help boost teacher’s confidence and will encourage interactive teaching. We hope that with this teaching aid even a non-qualified teacher should be able to successfully teach the subject. . In this way the concepts are not thrust onto children as in the rote or lecture style of teaching. This kit however does not aim to substitute the textbook and the children are to use the textbook concurrently with the posters.

This mode of teaching has several advantages over the conventional method:
It involves the children in the process of learning and does not merely treat them as passive receivers of knowledge. By actively involving children it overcomes the problem of attention span as it is expected that children are likely to be a lot more attentive when made an active part of the learning process.
It is common knowledge that small children, and which includes the children of the target audience, like colourful pictures and cartoons. Since many posters are made in a cartoon style it will surely have a positive influence on increasing the attention span of children.
It provides for a certain minimum standard level of questions, which can be used by any teacher. Thus it will help to raise standards at a systemic level.
Relatively untrained teachers can use it with some initial training.

Besides the questions and answers all posters contain a set of activities to be performed by the children.

Additinal Advantages:
Apart from the advantages listed above this approach also helps in:
Comprehension of basic concepts of science and their applications in everyday life.
Enthusing students to acquire experimental skills through carrying out activities and
Inculcating human and egalitarian values in the students.

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