One of the most acute lacunae in our school system is the absence of quality printed materials for teachers and students to supplement the textbooks. The lack of such resources probably contributes to the authoritarian and bookish approach to learning that is often seen in the classroom. HBCSE therefore, gives a lot of importance to the production of co-curricular and other resource materials.
A notable achievement of the Centre is the development of an activity based foundation curriculum in science, technology and society for secondary and higher stages. This is an interdisciplinary curriculum woven around the issues of human survival, and aims at preparing citizens for coping with the complex demands of modern technological society. The curriculum evolved through a three-year field project in Mumbai and Solapur sponsored by the J.N.Tata Endowment Trust. A series of books has been brought out to enable the school system to implement the curriculum.
Synopsis of the Curriculum
Contemporary issues not only affect all citizens to some extent, but also call for a systems approach to its understanding and resolution, considering among other things, the technological, economic and socio-cultural linkages. This approach requires a certain attitude to problem solving. Appropriate training can enable students to acquire these problem-solving abilities. Such training formed the principal objective of the programme for post-school students funded by the J.N.Tata Endowment Trust, and implemented by HBCSE over three years at Mumbai and also for two years at Solapur. The curriculum of the programme was meant to develop sensitivity to, and an understanding of, the complex linkages between science, technology and society. The other vital input was strengthening the comprehension and communication skills of the students.
The following books are a part of the series of 10 books that give concrete shape to the curriculum followed in the course. Each book is intended for coverage in about 20 contact hours. The exercises include analysis of graphs and tables, collages, surveys and essays. The books also invite the participants to script and stage plays, make posters and write poetry. Activities like surveys, essay writing, plays, poster-making and debating may, however, have to be carried out outside the contact hours.
1. The Population Problem: The population numbers in India, a sixth of world population, is often perceived as a major hurdle to increase the quality of life of the country’s people. The response to population increase varies from the Malthusian doomsday prediction to a utopian one of a billion empowered people ruling the world. The activities in this book encourage critical thinking on questions of population being a problem of numbers and on the factors that effect a change in population growth rates. (Chitra Natarajan)
2. Resources – Energy: The book deals with energy fuels other than food. It begins with fundamental ideas about energy, its measurement and forms and the laws governing energy flow in nature. It includes a chapter each on the renewable and nonrenewable energy sources, patterns of energy consumption in India and the world, and energy conservation potential. (Chitra Natarajan)
3. Resources – Land & Air: The book makes an ambitious attempt to expose students through activities to the treasure chest that is our land and the precious life giver that is the air we breathe. The first part includes opportunities to discuss land use patterns in India, conflicts involving land and degradation of land. The second part deals with the dynamic nature of air composition over geographical times, the concerns of air pollution and the role of vehicles in polluting air. (Chitra Natarajan)
4. Education: The issues addressed by this book include a brief history of the education system in India and a discussion of enrolment and spending at the elementary, secondary and higher education levels. It also encourages a discussion on the national efforts in education and its social relevance. One of the chapters deals with activities related to the population outside the formal education system, both children and adults. The last chapter probes the link between education and development. (G. C. Pal)
5. Global Climate Change: This book is about three of the global environmental concerns: global warming, stratospheric ozone depletion, and environmental degradation by acid rain. Though each of these concerns has originated in a different context, the activities and discussion lead to the conclusion that their resolution is only possible when they are addressed together. The activities lead to the realisation that the impact of these problems being different, the perception of the problems and their solutions differ among the nations of the world. (Chitra Natarajan & N. Sajeevraj)
6. Ecological Balances: The book provides a brief introduction to ecology, in itself a vast area of study. It invites the students to a discussion of the nature of the growth and dependence of communities of organisms. The ideas of biomes, niches and species diversity are discussed through a couple of chapters. Through a discussion of select ecological disasters in India and elsewhere, the book also raises questions about the role of humans in the dynamic interdependence in nature. (Yogita Parab & Chitra Natarajan)
7. Conflicts: Conflicts are an integral part of human history. The span of the book extends from conflicts within individuals (or internal conflicts) to wars on a global scale. It takes you through chapters on conflicts between individuals and groups, highlighting situations involving specific groups such as castes, classes, gender, race and ethnic groups. Some of the activities in the book are intended to refute those explanations of existing inequalities between groups, which are based on biology. The book ends with issues involving conflict resolution, or peace. (Sugra Chunawala)
8. Health Matters: The importance of health for our survival is undebatable. The health scenario in India is far from satisfactory. Importantly, Indian economy is also greatly affected by our poor health status. Effective preventive programmes of cleanliness, nutrition and vaccination can however, reduce India’s disease burden. Besides the major themes of communicable diseases, vaccination and nutrition, the book also covers through a variety of activities the new health challenges and health funding. The activities in the book give a flavour of the linkages involved in addressing health issues.(Bakhtavar Mahajan & Chitra Natarajan)
Two more books have been proposed. One on Resources – Food & Water (Issues that concern two of the vital inputs to all life are the topics of this book. The activities address the differences in their geographical distribution, in the access to these among people and their control.) and the other on Information and the Media (Managing information has occupied the efforts of humans for many millennia. Yet, information is certainly one of the vital inputs to modern society. The debate about the media shaping opinions is well known. The next few decades at least will possibly focus on who has access to information and how empowered they are to use it.). These have not been published yet.
Series Editor of Foundation Curriculum books.
You can download the entire set of books from the Resources page.
Gender and Science Exhibition and Booklet
The exhibition Gender and Science is a unique permanent exhibition, which critiques gender stereotyping in science while highlighting the role of women in scientific progress. It attempts to explicate the complex concepts, gender and science, and the tenuous relationship between them. The exhibition was prepared with the aim of sensitising students, teachers and laypersons about the role of women in science and technology. It has representation of several women scientists from antiquity to the present, across various domains, thus highlighting the often, invisible participation of women in the task of knowledge generation. While acknowledging that women seem to have a very limited impact and presence in modern science today, the exhibition traces the historical background, and the reasons for the situation. Various panels were prepared earlier, but this year the number was increased and the nature of the panels was changed from temporary to permanent panels. This involved a considerable amount of creative work along with a lot of routine drudgery.
An exhibition booklet, titled, Gender and Science; an exhibition booklet, was brought out at this time along with a translation in Marathi (December 2003). The booklet presents the details present on the panels along with some additional information on the same. The exhibition was inaugurated on December, 19, 2003, by TIFR Director, Prof. S. Bhattacharya. The exhibition has been visited by many students, teachers and B.Ed., trainee teachers.
If you would like to buy a copy of the booklet (Hindi or English) or want to know more details about HBCSE publication, please write/call/email:
The Publication Cell
Homi Bhabha Centre for Science Education, Tata Institute of Fundamental Research,
V. N. Purav Marg, Near Anushaktinagar Bus Depot,
Mankhurd, Mumbai 400 088, Maharashtra, India.
Phone: 022-2507 2100/2507 2114 Fax : 022-2556 6803
Email: firstname.lastname@example.org [or] email@example.com
Development of Resource Sheets
The Design and Technology Laboratory aims to be an informal and interactive workspace where students can access a range of activities, materials and resources. Here, students are introduced to some basic D&T activities through informal exploration. Some of these activities that are theoretically grounded in the research carried out at HBCSE and elsewhere, whiles others are more exploratory in nature and promote creative pursuits. Accompanying these activities are some resource sheets we have developed which can be printed on A3 or A4 paper. If you plan to set up similar activities in your laboratory, you can keep these resource sheets along side each activity. They will explain the activity and give a brief background to why this activity is useful.
You can download D&T laboratory resource sheets from the Resources page.