Thursday, May 10, 2018

The Geodesic Dome Project

Over the past few months the words ‘Geodesic Dome’ have gone around Shibumi quite a lot. It’s unlikely there’s anyone who hasn’t heard the words. And in recent times we have had a strange structure sitting outside Bijitsu. Often you would find some of the youngest children climbing and playing on it. But what is a geodesic dome? And why has it become so popular at Shibumi? The Reporters club at Shibumi got together the group of students working on it to answer their questions...

Who all are involved in this project? 
Geodesic Group (GG): Srishti, Asba, Gautam, Varun, Yashwant, Das and Kumaran uncle. 

How did you get started on it? 
GG: We had a choice between puzzles, triangulation and the geodesic dome. We chose this one because it was more hands-on. 

What is a geodesic dome? 
GG: A geodesic dome is any dome made only out of straight lines. (on the dome surface) The Geodesic Dome is the strongest structure for any curved surface. 

What are some difficulties you have faced in assembling it? 
GG: Pounding so many pipes and cutting them hurts after some time. It can become really tiring and repetitive. 

What materials are you using and why?
GG: We are using metal, aluminium alloy and steel pipes because it is strong, comparatively light weight and cheap. For example wood would break too easily.

Did you make any mistakes? 
GG: We made a lot of mistakes while hammering!

What did you learn?

GG: We learnt that Kumaran uncle is very patient. (laughs) We didn’t even know there something like this could be done before this project. 

What is the future of this project? 
GG: We are planning to assemble it in the new school. We have not yet decided for what yet.

The complete project report can be found here

Sunday, May 6, 2018

Clubs come alive

This summer term different clubs were formed by the teachers and children of the three younger groups (Tulsi, Ketaki and Palash). The clubs then came together three times a week for the whole of the term. 

Here are some snippets from all the fun and learning. 

Stitching club

The stitching group was a delightful threesome, Mahiti ,Vibha and I; joined in the last few sessions by Nikhit. They came, all excited about using the sewing machine; but after the first two sessions of exploration decided on projects 
and determinedly dived into cross stitch embroidery. While finishing the pattern seemed to take "forever" they soldiered on, enjoying creating patterns with colours. Finally on the last day the zip pouch and little sling bag were machine stitched. And Nikith had a decorated elastic hairband to create his ‘puff’.
- Roopa

Toys from Trash club

The group (Dia, Dhatri and I) came together to make simple toys with junk materials such as balloons, straws, ice-cream sticks and plastic bottles. Toys made included balloon powered boats, paddle boat with ice-cream sticks, trumpets with Bisleri bottles, plastic straw flutes, climbing toy just to mention a few. It was super fun! 
- Soumya

Tinkering club

As part of the tinkering club, we opened up  many things. Displayed here are the circuit boards of the telephone, cordless phone and a smartphone. I found it interesting that the circuit board got smaller from the telephone to the smartphone but there are so many more things that we can do with a smartphone!
- Sarayu (12)

The first thing I saw was the binocular and I decided to open it. I Kept trying to find screws to open, but I couldn't see any!

Then I played around with the focus ring and soon it went loose and I could unscrew it! Slowly I saw one was a star screw.One by one, and with some sawing we finally managed to open it up to see what was inside. We found lenses and mirrors.The lens and mirrors were so well protected, it took me 10 hours of working on it to get inside it!
I enjoyed it a lot. Every session I would feel it is going to be impossible to open this up but by the end of the session something would show itself!
- Lia (10)

Here's what Suhaan and Nikhil did...

We took all our projects to meet Tushar - an electric engineer at Shrenik uncles factory. It was amazing - Tinkering group.

Reporters club

The gang minus Medha
The young reporters (Bhavya, Mauliki, Medha, Nachiket, Zain) spent the first few days trying to figure out what it is that reporters do and then we got to doing what reporters do! 
We sat together and brainstormed for story ideas - What were some interesting things happening at Shibumi and around us? What were some interesting places we could visit? Who were the people we wanted to speak to? Etc. Then we visited places, interviewed people, took photographs and put it all together in the form of a hand made magazine. 

Carving club 
The children figured out what they wanted to work on. Then together we found the appropriate wood pieces and got to work on making them look the way they wanted. This mostly involved chiselling and sandpapering.
- Das

Look I made a door handle for new school! - Siddhu
I made one too. It was fun! - Om

Math Games

Sometimes we make up our own games using materials we have at school but we also play a lot of good old games that uses math skills.

Children playing Kai mele Kashi, a simple hand game requires the use of fine motor skills to pick up or move shells, actions that take both eye-hand coordination, attention and dexterity. It is a fast game that blends counting, luck and strategy. It is useful to give students an intuition for probability before they grapple with the mathematics. All that is needed for the game are four Kavades, cowrie shells and enthusiastic players.
- Ganga 

Saturday, March 3, 2018

Turtle Walk in Chennai

When news that the olive ridley turtles had started to nest in the beaches of Chennai reached us, at the beginning of last week, we quickly put together a plan for our visit. Tickets were booked and calls were made to our friends at The School for a place to rest, Tholkappia Poonga for a visit and to our friends at SSTCN (Chennai Students’ Sea Turtle Conservation Network) for the overnight walk to watch the nesting. We set off on a Friday morning reaching Chennai by noon. After a quick lunch, we visited the Tholkappia Poonga.

Tholkappia Poonga is an ecological park in the Adyar estuary area. It is an amazing example of restoration of freshwater eco-systems in the heart of a city! We were introduced to the history, the restoration process and the flora and fauna found in the park by Mrs.Gomati. Her energy, passion for ecological restoration, and determination to carry forward the good work shone through in her interactions with us. We recommend it as a must see place for people visiting Chennai.

Our next stop was The School. The intention was to play a little, rest, eat dinner and be ready for the turtle walk at 10.00 PM. The sight of the empty grounds at the school was a shot in the arm and the children played football and Frisbee with an energy that belied the tiredness brought about by the long day. We were then treated to an excellent dinner. The affection and care of our lovely hosts gave us a fresh lease of life. We would need it for the night walk.

We received news that an olive ridley turtle was spotted nesting in the Besant Nagar beach. We rushed towards the beach and reached just in time to watch the turtle finish her nesting. She did a little dance to cover up the nest with sand before heading off into the sea. That would be our only sighting of a live nesting for the night. 

The turtle walk starts at the Neelankarai beach and we reached there by 11.30PM. There was a live Q&A session on everything around turtles with Akila and Harish, volunteers at SSTCN. Once again, their dedication and passion towards the conservation of these lovely creatures shone through in their conversations with us. Finally, we set off on the walk, along the beach, mostly on the water’s edge at about 1.00AM. For the next few hours, we were witness to:  the bright lights that dot the city landscape causing untold misery to the turtles, dead olive ridley turtles and large fishes (they get caught in fishing trawlers) washed ashore and the untiring efforts of the SSTCN volunteers in finding nests and recovering the eggs to be relocated to safe havens, i.e., hatcheries. Around 10,000 eggs were recovered that night. Happy at having been a part of a movement that is fighting a battle for these fragile beings’ survival, we completed our walk and headed out to the Chennai railway station.

You can read about SSTCN and their work here:

Friday, March 2, 2018

Celebrating Holi at an Art Museum

Some of us spent Holi at National Gallery of Modern Art yesterday. We had gone to see the exhibition by Balan Nambiar. The exhibition had drawings in Indian ink, charcoal, pastels and paintings in watercolour and oils. On display were also his indoor and outdoor sculptures in bronze, mild steel and stainless steel.

Being welcomed by the magnificent trees at NGMA, one was immediately touched by to a sense of quiet and beauty. Everything seemed like 'art' in this atmosphere.

Enthusiastically we wandered into the large mansion that housed the works of Balan Nambiar. The works created a pause and questions. A game started between the children to see how quickly they could find his name on the work. Then there was also reading the little label to his work and placing it in the timeline that makes most sense to them. 

'He did this before I was born!'
'I was 1 year old when he made this'
'Hey! I was born when he made this!'
'My mother was born, when he made this!'

After initially wandering through the museum and getting a feel of the work, the children scattered in the space to draw some of the work by the artist in their journals.

Looking at his art work closely, we noticed new things we hadn't noticed in our first looking.

We had had our fill and decided to go upstairs to see the regular collection. Just then, the artist walked into the space.... and there was a buzz of excitement and wonder that filled us. The artist was a real person! 

Balan Nambiar, met each of the children, autographed their journals and even looked into their journals and was delighted by their interpretations of his work.

After this unplanned and beautiful interaction we had some delicious lunch at the Cafe. Rohit, a friend arranged a most delicious meal for us. 

After lunch we made our way itno the Museum shop and a new learning moment opened up for us!
We helped the 'uncle' at the counter segregate 'visitor-buttons' and had our data on the kind of visitors that came in the month of February for the exhibition by Balan Nambiar.


Tuesday, February 13, 2018

WOLPE (Women - Our Little Play, Episodes)

At the beginning of the academic year, a group of the older children were  introduced to Little Women, a novel by American author Louisa May Alcott published in 1880. The novel follows the lives of four sisters and is loosely based on the author’s childhood experiences with her three sisters. This exposure began a discussion of different narrative arcs that the story could have taken and from there emerged the idea of a modern interpretation. The children decided to adapt the interpretation as a play. Over the next six months, this creative writing project went through cycles of drafting, revising and editing. During this process, the question of how to present it emerged and the children settled on filming the play. The script went through editing again to allow for it filming as episodes. The first episode is now ready for viewing. 

From learning about the historical context of the novel setting through the study of the Civil War, to converting the book into a play with modern echos and engaging the entire school to shoot a serialised film this project has taken off in many unexpected directions. 

On the 5th of Feb, students, teachers and parents of Shibumi queued up outside the library for the much awaited premiere of the prelude. 



Queueing up
 The prelude was a revelation of sorts, showcasing the children's work in the areas of script writing, costumes, location, acting and film making. In case you missed it, worry not! (or if you wish to watch it again). There is a separate channel on Youtube, WOLPE Youtube Channel, where one can view all the videos related to WOLPE. If you would like to receive an update when a new episode is released then please click the red SUBSCRIBE button on the top right corner of the page. Alternately, you can just visit the page and look for new episodes and view them. Enjoy 

Tuesday, February 6, 2018

Angadibail Adventures

We were away in the forest of Angadibail for ten days with our youngest group of children. Fourteen young minds between the ages of 5 and 9 were off on this little adventure together.

We reached Angadibail. It was a forest. There were farms surrounding this area. There was a stream nearby. It was soooooooooo amazing. In the forest we saw Malabar giant squirrel, Panther poo, languor and many birds.

Do you know that langoors kill the Malabar giant squirrel and just leave them there? 

At  night it was dark, little fire flys would come out and there would be a little sparkling glow in the trees. We could see many stars at night without the city  light and noise. In the morning the forest was full of chirping sounds. It was beautiful to live there.

- Vibha (9)

We were greeted in the forest by Savita's amazing team. Ishwar Anna, who is full of the most amazing forest stories. Kafeel , who was our guardian angel. Baby akka, who always managed to cook some delicious food for us. Beera, the dog who had once met a leopard ! The cows, the hens and the cutest kittens!

Bella and Thuppa are two really small kikkens. They both have the same pattern on their heads. When i see the kittens I really feel like touching them but instead I sit next to them. They automatically come and sit in my lap and I can feel them purr.
On our last night at Angadibail we couldn’t see the kittens anywhere. I thought they might be playing somewhere so i wasn’t worried. We all went to sleep. In the morning I went to the kittens basket, when I looked inside, the basket was empty! Now I was starting to get a bit worried. I kept wondering: If I was a kitten, where would I go if I go? I kept repeating this and finally decided to go look for them. I went to the chicken area, but they were not there. I looked for them near the cow shed, but no luck! I looked for them in the warmth of the kitchen, but they were nowhere to be seen.
I told Ganga Aunty about the missing kittens and she assured me that they will be around somewhere. My search for them ended with the breakfast gong. In my thoughts I was still looking for them. We didn’t see them all day. When I was in the boat to the beach I was thinking about them. I figured they were lost and hoped they were safe. While we were at the beach, I sat next to Tanu di. Mahiti and Bhavya were already cuddling there. Tanu di told us a silly story about how the little kittens had become big fire balls and that they would never come back. After that Bear (Kafeel) told us a sweet story of how the kittens got lost, but he said nothing about them returning.
                In the morning while we bounced in the waves I had forgotten about the kittens. We were soon chugging along in a train back to Bangalore and at night Savita Aunty called to tell us that the kittens were back! I was delighted!
(I teased Tanu di about the super silly story that she had cooked up!)
Zain (9)

Our ten days were full of leisure, star gazing , story telling, forest walks, boat ride on the river and one night at the beach!

We had almost reached Yaaana when we spotted two different paths. We didn’t know which one of the two to take! It was only Mauliki, Mahiti, Vibha, Bhavya and me!!
We took the risk of going straight and entering Yaana while Vibha kept telling that “We were going to be lost  forever!!!”

 "Oh God!"

There were so many people there but there was so one we knew.  We came back and started calling for help. After some time of calling we heard another call. It was Kafeel anna. 

"Wow! What luck!"

After sometime we saw Tanu didi, Kafeel Anna, Aman, Zaid and Dinesh anna. We went with them and to our surprise we ended up on the same path. We saw Nachiket , Zain and Sharad Bhaiya waiting for us. 

"What!?? We didn’t even notice them there!"

- Advaith (9)

When we went to the beach we went to the restaurant area to get firewood for the barbeque. There was a man. When he saw my hair he said “ Oh Wig! Wig! You wear a wig!” He then tried to pull my hair off!My hair didn’t come off. Nachi and I laughed so much! 

Another man gave us firewood.


Vessels, ladies, bottles, jars,
Squirrels, Giant Malabars!
Aracanut, coconut, cashewnut trees,
Sunbirds, hornbills, butterflies and bees!
Sugarcane, machaan, fields and stream,
Savita, Ishwar, Kafeel’s team,
Pebbles, pods and fish of the stream!
The day’s over and now is night,
Next to the fire,under the stars bright.
-         - Sharad


      Nugli akka with her tribal stories and Capt. Preetam with the stories about the stars were some of our forest treats! We also did leaf art, brick making, basket weaving and so much more!

Sunday, December 31, 2017

Giving Week Round up - Skills sharing

Each day of the giving week was filled with sharing of skills, planned and executed by the children. In the morning, there was football, folk dance and running on offer. The afternoon had activities like making ninja blades and nature art. On Friday, there was a treasure hunt activity that combined the game of treasure hunt with the skill of tree climbing. The clues were placed on nine different across the Shibumi campus. There were five teams and in each team every person had to take turns climbing a tree to fetch the clues. The whole experience was exhilarating.  The week was brought to a close with a music performance on the keyboard and violin by the children.

Watch some of the moves in the folk dance.

There was time for some cool moves as well :)

And this is how it is done...