Random Thoughts

Raghu Menon


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Trip to Agastya International Foundation

Was away for a couple of days (24th and 25th October 2019) visiting the Agastya International Foundation which is about 250 km away from my home town, Pondicherry.

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Lots and lots to share …!! Will compile the learnings and will share. Very interesting centre with a beautiful team of people striving hard to take science and maths to rural children through teachers’ orientation workshops, mobile science labs, science fairs, campus visits by children on a regular basis and much more.

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Interesting creations of art from kitchen utensils and with a real dog in the frame!!!

They also work in about 95 rural hamlets around their campus (located near Gudpuli/Kuppam in Andhra Pradesh GPS coordinates: 12° 45’ 33” N, 78° 19’ 38” E).

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Their architecture was very eco-friendly, using existing materials and rocks/pebbles etc. and constructed in line with the slopes. They also have an excellent waste/grey water recycling unit which they treat and use for irrigating their tree-saplings spread over about 170 acres or so.

 

With various sections of gardens including grasslands…

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Shrubs, medicinals…

 

With butterflies, birds, insects …

They also have a number of labs dedicated to science, maths, innovation, creativity, teacher-training, and even create your own lab. They do extensive teacher training programmes, get hundreds of children into the campus, also have an outreach programme in several states including Andhra Pradesh, Tamilnadu, Karnataka, Maharastra, etc. They have also the largest mobile science labs which tour the villages where children can not come to their campus.

Sri Aurobindo Society as part of its Svarnim Puducherry initiative, will be coordinating with Agastya International Foundation to bring the best practices of science /maths/environmental education to Puducherry, as an experiential learning programme where science is understood and experienced through a constructivist approach, where observation leads to generalization and finally theory and not the opposite way, as is mostly followed in current pedagogy.

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We had an extensive eco-walk with their Botanist Mr.Lakshya, who told us that the area receives only about 400 mm of rainfall on an average, and they have to use every drop of water through harvesting to keep the plants/trees live during their initial years. They started with the pioneer species which were local to the terrain and slowly increased the vegetative cover through the planned introduction of species. Over the years, the overall biodiversity has increased which is currently being documented.

The team from Svarnim Puducherry ..

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