ScrapLabs steps into schools to add a touch of fun to science. The classes they conduct in various schools across Delhi/NCR encourage children to experiment and innovate as they enjoy the practical aspects of a subject that is otherwise learnt by rote.
In order to realise their goal of converting learning into an activity that children enjoy and look forward to rather than dread, ScrapLabs has created a Mentorship Fellowship Program—a part time, paid fellowship program that helps talented young individuals bring about a positive change in various schools across Delhi/NCR. In conversation with four fellows from different backgrounds, who are currently associated with the program, we discover their experiences and learnings from the fellowship.
Vishakha Mittal, who has done her graduation in Literature and is pursuing her B.ed, emphasises on the difference between conventional classrooms and the ScrapLabs classroom. “Since the activities are hands on, children enjoy them immensely. The huge smile on their faces and the shine in their eyes when they enjoy their learning is what I look forward to,” she says. Vishakha, who was always interested in the education sector, was attracted to the fellowship for the fact that it was something different from the usual, and very different, but interesting experience, along with a vast exposure to good schools across Delhi/NCR.
Ishika Seal, a third year student of Sociology at Sri Venkateshwara College hated science back in school. “After 10th grade, I thought I was done with science. But now, when I see the joy on a child’s face when he sees a car he made move, I’m glad I’m involved with the subject and this program. You appreciate science when you understand it,” she says. “I thought I hated children,” laughs Ishika. “But this program has made me want to teach, and maybe take up teaching later as well. This is certainly more than just a way of adding to your CV,” she adds. She sees the ScrapLabs classroom as being revolutionary in terms of teaching techniques, and as something that must be expanded to include other disciplines as well.
Jasneet Kaur, a third year student of Political Science at Dyal Singh College, has been a fellow at the SrapLabs program for the last two months. Jasneet says she absolutely loves what she’s doing. Is there a time crunch at times and does it become difficult to pursue college and handle the fellowship at the same time? “I’m currently doing a course in French as well,” she says, pointing out that it is possible to handle classes and manage time well enough to be able to take up the fellowship. “If you want to learn something new, you will have to learn to manage your time alongside. Besides, in case of problems, it’s always easy to communicate it to your mentor or team members and they will handle things for you.”
Siddharth Nagaria, a fourth year Engineering student, appreciates the fact that the ScrapLabs classes add more value to existing school education, and enable children to question and think beyond what is expected of them. “We would merely cram while we were children. In that sense, ScrapLabs is almost like a bridge between the traditional curriculum and this new innovative way of introducing practical aspects that the child can implement in daily life,” he says.
What is their biggest take away from this fellowship program? Punctuality is one word that resonated across all four conversations. “If you’re half an hour late to college, you might still get attendance and get away without any consequences. But you cannot afford to be late before a class of children,” explains Ishika. “The program instills us with a feeling of responsibility and keeps us on track. Fellows are rewarded based on how much work is done,” she says. Siddharth concurs. “I tend to lose my cool quite easily. This fellowship has taught me the importance of being patient, calm and polite.” Jasneet adds that the fellowship has also enabled her to function better in a team and communicate and sort out problems, rather than holding futile grudges.
What are some of the challenges that fellows face on the job? “Taking command of a class and understanding class room dynamics can be a little tricky,” says Ishika. Vishakha adds, “Building a rapport with a class of children who have initially been taught by another fellow can be challenging. Establishing trust and friendship with the children is essential.”
Image credits: ScrapLabs