Vidya Valley urges teachers extend themselves through collaborative projects with their students as well as individual accomplishments. Here are a few interesting instances.
Space Settlement Design
Authors like Jules Verne, scientists and futurologists envision that humanity will reach out beyond Planet Earth to live on other planets or independent settlements in space. Mr. Elon Musk founded SpaceX to build efficient cost-effective transportation systems to enable colonisation of Mars. Some organisations involved in space advocacy set up annual international ‘Space Settlement Design Competitions’ for school students across the world to nurture the next generation of space professionals in an exciting way.
National Space Society known as NSS, runs an annual competition for siting and designing a Space Settlement (Space Colony).
NSS competitions: Vidya Valley teams have competed since 2012 and have won the first prize on several occasions and second and third prizes in other years.
Aerospace Education Competitions (AEC), known as SpaceSet, runs the Annual International Space Settlement Design Competition (ISSDC).
SpaceSet ISSDC: Vidya Valley students have been competing in ISSDC from 2015. The teams have always qualified for the National Finals and the Asian Semi-Finals on some occasions.
Space Foundation Teacher Liaisons
Space Foundation, USA is an advocate of the global space community. It has a special program to recognize Teacher Liaisons. They are School Teachers who use space-related education programs and principles in the classroom in their schools. If selected they receive Space Foundation training and resources to further integrate space into their classrooms.
30 teachers of Vidya Valley School have been selected as Space Foundation Teacher Liaisons in the last ten years. They have been specially recognized at the annual Space Symposium at Colorado Springs, USA. They have received training and instruction at Space Foundation workshops and space education materials and standards-based lesson plans.
Science Projects by teachers and students
A Foldscope is an optical microscope with a magnification of 140X. It can be assembled from a sheet of paper and a lens and cost less than US $1. Dr. Manu Prakash, Professor of Bioengineering at Stanford University designed it.
Aparupa Ghosh Science Teacher and her team of students worked on a project to make the Foldscope an effective learning tool. Department of Biotechnology, Ministry of Science & Technology funded the project. The Vidya Valley team visited several schools, met science teachers and students and explained the potential of the Foldscope in exploring the micro-cosmos.
Vidya Valley Rocket Project
Joyeeta Adhikary, Science Teacher, trained 114 students of Grade VII to build rockets from reusable material like soft drink bottles, cardboard, and chart paper. The students built launch pads using tools like screw drivers, bicycle pumps and a small electric compressor. The students learnt basics of aerodynamics and flight by design, construction, and launch. They understood parameters like height, thrust, stability and trajectory. Rockets that “failed” were also lessons in the scientific method.
Cubes in Space
Cubes in Space is a global competition for students in 11 -18 years age group. The students must design and propose experiments for launching the Cube into space on a NASA sounding rocket and zero pressure scientific balloon. The object of the experiment must fit in a cube of 4 cm × 4 cm × 4 cm.
Joyeeta Adhikary, Science Teacher and students of Grade VII designed and submitted six different proposals of which five were approved. One of the approved experiments was selected. It was a moment of pride for the team that it could design quality experiments.
The launch was from NASA Columbia facility, New Mexico. The Cube was brought back to earth for studies of exposure to radiation and other extreme conditions.
Indian Classical Music and the “Tabla”
Students of Vidya Valley School have options in learning music. The Tabla is very popular for boys and girls from Class III and beyond. About 300 students of the School learn the Tabla on a regular basis.
Akhil Bhartiya Gandharva Mahavidyalaya is a pan-India institution. It conducts certification examinations in Indian classical music including the Tabla. About 40 to 50 students of Vidya Valley are proficient enough in one year to pass the initial (“Prarambhik”) examination. They go on to pass higher levels. In the last few years, over 100 students of Vidya Valley have passed five levels of written and practical Tabla examinations. Effectively they could appear for the “Visharad” examination when they are old enough in College.