A journey to discover the people who change our world.

Sunday, September 17, 2006

The Man who Experiments.

Rajiv Vartak has been able to combine two of his great loves- science and questioning- into a programme which is showing alternative ways to approach science and environmental education.

He is a man who love to experiment. When I arrived to meet him, in a school deep in the heart of the city, he had a series of little experiments laid out to demonstrate; ones with magnets, balloons, water basins and electric circuits. I really felt like I was stepping into one of his educational sessions.

Rajiv, frustrated with the rote learning style of teaching which is all to common in this country, and bothered by the lack of questioning which takes place in educational environments, set about designing a programme for the reform of science teaching.

In Mumbai he and a team of teachers run extra classes for students. But for the average Indian student they are no ordinary classes. Instead of being told to memorise, they are encouraged to question and probe into why the world works in the way it does. Rajiv and his team have over 2000 experiments which they can conduct with the pupils in interactive and fun ways.

In the south of the province, Ravij also runs a mobile lab, a truck which tours schools in the region- bringing experiments and exploratory learning to the pupils, and a full time team which travels with it.

To Rajiv, it is about encouring curiosity. He has two kids of his own, and my suspicion is that they too have a lot of questions!


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