visit to somaiya college for depmap workshop

February 25, 2009

Today I planned a visit to K.J.Somaiya college of science, vidyavihar with regard to plan for organizing depmap workshop for teachers. I met the faculty from physics, chemistry, biology, botany, microbiology, education departments of junior as well as senior college.

I explained about the objectives of the depmap workshop and since it is to build a teaching sequence, it would be useful if teachers themselves create their dependency maps using the web based portal in the hands-on workshop to be conducted in gnowledge lab, hbcse.  Teacher have got a fair understanding as I also showed them some featured maps picked out from the portal.

Overall, all the teachers whom i met are interested to participate in the depmap workshop. Teachers from each department will be participating in the workshop in april, may, june.

Initially the visit was planned for about an hour, but my visit got extended for more than 2 hours. Actually I have studied for H.S.C., B.Sc. & M.Sc. from Somaiya college. When i was meeting the teachers, i too got nostalgic and to my surprise, most of the teachers could remember me as their student. So my visit got extended as I met my teachers in the corridor, labs, and was talking about my work and research. A few teachers also were keen to know about my Ph.D. work in the area of biology education. My teachers were glad to know about my progress, i being an alumni of somaiya.

I was thrilled to go back to my college, to my teachers and convey my contribution to science education.

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depmap on activity—who got the food

February 2, 2009

i was mapping the topic who got the food from chapter 4- looking at
animals from the small science curriculum for class III. and this is
the route that i followed to map.

depmap on food eating habits

depmap on food eating habits

an interesting depmap to build a thread as :
inorder to understand the concept of animals, one need to first
observe some animals, their food eating habits. the latter can be
understood in the context of an activity. once these activities are
performed one can categorize and classify which animals eat what kind
of food and then may be understand the concept of a dog, cat, and then progressively the concept of an animal.

Small Science Curriculum is an activity based curriculum developed by
HBCSE. It focusses on teaching science through activities.


promising strands for future episteme conferences

January 9, 2009

Today, on the last day of the episteme-3 conference, we had a round table discussion on two issues: promising strands for episteme conferences; to build a community  of STME research in India. I was involved in the first round table. We reviewed the last episteme -1, episteme-2, and the current epistme-3 for the strands (or themes) of the conferences, and the outcomes. The main strands that episteme conferences will always be based on are: History and philsophy of science: its implications for science education; Cognitive basis of learning, pedagogy and curricular issues. From the discussion, atleast four strands have emerged which the participants are interested in the future epistemes. These have been: classroom based practices; affective factors in learning, science technology studies issues, integrating STME, assessment (to bring into focus), universalization of education.

The other topic also got a good involvement from the participants to building a community for science, technology, and mathematics education in India. Some of the suggestions are: to build research standards, develop knowledge portals, create summer programs, evaluate projects with collaborators, engaging with scientific institutes, universities, etc. etc.

These two topics of the round table discussion would enable us to concretize the strands of our future episteme conferences of HBCSE.


apprentice scientist

December 11, 2008

Science can be fun when learning occurs through activity. Using the activity-based learning of science model, Prof. Nicole Ostrowsky of the University of Nice, has produced book on “The agenda of the apprentice scientist” (in french). The book has interesting hands-on activities, cartoons, puzzles, etc. to learn science. During her seminar today, she browsed through some of the chapters. For instance, in one of the chapters she starts by the question what sinks what floats. From this thread, she begins teaching physics (density of ice, water), snow, hail, rain (condensation), fractals (drawing and measuring snow flakes).

This method of teaching science is quite interdisciplinary, and it allows to integrate all the sciences while understanding one particular concept. She claims that her book is for the audience of age group from 7-70. Looking forward to the book.


experts’ analaysis of cell-biology—some observations on the representation of scientific knowledge

February 29, 2008

As part of my research work, I have been analyzing the experts’ way of representing scientific knowledge, the domain of cell-biology. The experts are authors/editors of three books which are followed widely at the international level as textbooks for biology as a subject. These are DeRobertis, Campbell, Soper (Ed.). To be consistent with the knowledge domain (which also I am comparing for the textbook and students), I have narrowed down to analyze the topics on ‘The Structure and Function of Nucleus and Mitochondria’. We want to find out what are the different kinds of linking words (aka relation types) used by the experts. How do the experts use the linking words –do they use them consistently, and unambiguously to represent the domain, and how many linking words are used to represent a given domain.

The following are the observations on the relations depicted of the domain by the three experts:

1. A first and direct observation is that DeRobertis is consistent, unambiguous and economical in using the linking words

2. In all the three experts’ lists, there are more number of (6-10) of spatial inclusion kind of linking words used than the other kinds of linking words

3. In all the three experts’ lists, there is no usage of instance of/ for example linking word

4. DeRobertis explains mitochondria into a hierarchical form and also uses the anchoring of subordinate concepts to the new concepts

5. DeRobertis explains nucleus in an easy to understand

6. Campbell has used a very accurate linking word ‘organized into’ in the context of DNA and Chromosomes

7. Campbell uses the linking word ‘is a’ ambiguously i.e. to mean the part-whole, class inclusion and attributes

8. Campbell explains the structure and mitochondria from only one level of representation. The explanation is not intricate, hierarchical, or anchored to subordinate concepts. But it uses the complex level of concepts for the domain

9. Campbell explains nucleus in quite an intricate way, but has a better way of representation

10. Soper’s mitochondria explanation is just like a school or college level textbook

11. Soper explains nucleus quite intrictely but after some level the mapping of concepts becomes only linear

12. Soper also used the linkig word ‘is/are’ ambiguously i.e. to mean the class inclusion and attributes

Further in continuation, I am comparing the above with the textbook and students’ representation of the same domain which also depicts the knowledge using a constrained set of linking words.


School Science Education – Universalisation with Quality

September 12, 2007

This is one of the sessions organized in a National Conference on Science Education-Challenges of Quality being organised in HBCSE on account of Prof. B. M. Udgaonkar’s 80th birthday.

The speakers of this session: Prof. Anil Sadgopal (Chair), Prof. Ram Takwale, Dr. Anita Ramphal, Dr. Jayashree Ramadas, Dr. Gambhir and Dr. Subramaniam.

Prof. Ram Takawale talked about the issues of Open Educational Resources, distance and open universities, school science education, universalization and quality school science education for all, how to achieve universalization of education. As we know, information and knowledge society is emerging, and therefore ICT can play an important role in solving the problems of making quality of science education universal. In today’s world, we are connected with mobile phone, TV,internet, but not all the schools are connected, in this situation how can we create a connected world. ICT is using different processes such as digitization, personalization, customization and can we use these new processes to universalize science education.

According to Prof. Takwale, we cannot use the conventional processes to solve the problems of universalization, and we need to use ICT to solve such problems. The keypoint is that ICT enables for mass collaboration wherein few people come together for a common cause and create resources for everyone for example wikipedia. He showed interest in creating learning groups or learning communities for the open educational program.

Well, I would like to add here that the SELF Project is also an example of such open educational resources. The SELF Platform is being used to create courses and learning materials. It aims to be a community-driven platform for producing and distributing educational materials.

The next speaker, Dr. Anita Ramphal dealt with the formulation of NCERT syllabus. She showed concerns to bridge the inequality in school education. Some other issues that were touched upon were the language of science used in the textbooks, sometimes due to this the people are distancing from science. The language of science has to be explicit, visual representations are important.

Jayashree Ramadas talked about the Homi Bhaba Curriculum, Dr.  Subramaniam talked about research in mathematics education, Dr. Gambhir talked about science experiments in schools.


mathematics curriculum

April 26, 2007

A casual query came to mind regarding the approach that is being followed for mathematics curriculum that is being developed by HBCSE for primary and middle school level. I am aware that the Small Science Curriculum is based on the inquiry based approach, and similarly I thought of understanding the approach for mathematics curriculum.

According to the group, that is involved in developing the mathematics curriculum, it is based on the structure and connections based approach. A mathematical structure is applied while developing the content which takes care of the conceptual understanding and the necessary prerequisites; and the connections are made of the content while deciding its long term effect as to why a concept is important in primary level and what is its significance in the middle school level.

the above points are based on the discussion over tea table (Subramaniam, myself)