Posted by: greatfoundation | September 19, 2011

Simple machine: goes vroom

When I saw the 6th standard students at Mahadaji Shinde High School completely engrossed with their trial runs, my mind went back to the first lesson of Physics for 11th standard called ‘simple machines’. The lesson started by introducing an inclined plane and then went on to introduce laws of motion. That was the lesson these children were learning without even knowing about it.

They had built inclined planes using two sheets of thermocol and some tape. They had built their rolling chassis or carts using thick paper, plastic straws, ballpoint pen refills and bottle cap kind of wheels. They were experimenting with their chassis by arranging the wheels, positioning the tape and straws in such a manner that maximum distance was travelled in a straight line when the chassis came rolling down. Girls and boys were equally enthusiastic and were concentrating on their experiment. They did not have time to look around to see who was watching. Their faces were glowing when their chassis managed to cover of few meters! They were proudly sporting badges of ‘project manager’, ‘test engineer’ and ‘designer’.

Science is all around us. Simple motion fundamentals are easy to grasp when you see them in front of you. I saw that the students quickly learnt that smoother the surface of their inclined plane less is the friction and longer is the distance travelled by rolling. So they had put a piece of formica on top of the thermocol. They had also learnt that if the inclined plane has to maintain the angle, it needs a strong base. A thick tape was put in place securely joining the bases of two pieces making the inclined plane strong.  This was their self learning and their own problem solving skills that had come forth.

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I was thrilled to watch this experiment in progress and the budding scientists hard at work. Thank you very much Sridhar and team, for taking the lead and introducing the students to science through experiments. All the material used is affordably available and yet the lesson imparted is priceless!

By- Utpala Joshi

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