Thursday, 15 October 2015

Backyard Science

We at Ebase map each learning topic and theme to a practical activity and its real-life relevance, which makes Science Experiments and field trips a norm and aid in maximum retention. Our curriculum on sustainability works with 5 broad themes and we ensure learning about those broad themes with practicality.   

Weather Station Instruments: Global Warming which is leading to climate change and extreme climatic conditions all around the world has shown its fury on ladakh’s fragile ecosystem in the 2010 Cloud Burst at midnight which caused severe damage to life and livestock. People in Ladkah still recall it with sadness and till date there is a flash flood threat every second day. I experienced a flood in my very first week where school was cancelled for a week all over Leh and we had to evacuate the hostel and camp out in the cultural hall at a higher ground followed by two days of shoveling the and silt away from the roof tops, our rooms and the catchment area. This lead us to explore better ways for preparedness for these natural calamities, make weather station instruments from waste materials, learn the science behind weather forecasting, and do experiments through religious data collection and keeping daily weather logs.

A barometer: to measure wind pressure. 

An Anemometer: To check the Wind Speeds. 

A Wind Vane: to show the direction of the incoming wind. 

A Rain Guage. 

Soil erosion: Tracing back, the 2010 flood to the reasons for climate change and to ways to prevent various natural disasters, we came to a deeper understanding of how to mitigate the adverse effects of a flood through a simple solution of afforestation. Planting more trees prevents soil erosion as the root hold on the soil and not let the top soil wash away. This can be demonstrated by a simple experiment with waste water bottles slit in halves. Bottle one has only sand and represents a barren land, Bottle two has stones, cow dung, and wood pieces and represents fallow land; Bottle three has plants planted 2 weeks ago and represents a forest or a field. On pouring water at an incline we can see that that the cleanest water is collected from bottle number 3 in the glass jar below demonstrating that plants help prevent soil erosion or washing away of the topsoil.

sowing the seeds. 

Germination: even our plants have a great view! 

Notice how the water collected by bottle 3 runoff is a lot cleaner than the other two?  

Mini biogas plant: Sustainability encompasses clean energy resources and solar is the most popular in a place like Ladakh with abundant sunshine for 260 out of the 365 days. The E-base is completely solar powered even supplies excess power to the school office and the audio visual room, ensuring internet even during power cuts. Class 6 made a mini biogas plant with spare parts and with waste. That has been the running trend with all our experiments- The use of waste material. The kids never cease to surprise me with their innovative Jugaad thinking and find quick fix solutions to all road blocks. It was great to see how the girls didn’t cringe even once while mixing it even though the boys did and kept teasing them about it. The experiment was semi-successful as it did produce methane gas through anaerobic respiration but due to leaks in the pipes there was not a lot of methane gas collected, but there were signs of Methane gas the room smelled a certain way, distinct by the smell of methane and on taking a lit match stick to the nozzle of the tube containing the methane the, flame got sucked in and intensified proving the presence of methane gas. Yes methane is a green house gas but is a much better alternative to Smoke producing choolas causing respiratory diseases. 

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