NumberNagar: Where maths is fun
By Chetana Divya Vasudev | Published: 20th November 2013 12:13 PM |
Until class four, Kaustub G Bijapur enjoyed mathematics, but from then on his grasp on the subject seemed to grow weaker. “I didn’t know what was happening,” shares his mother Asha Girish, who went in search of ‘tuitions’ for her son. “I’m a working woman and a commerce graduate, so personally, there was very little I could do to help,” says Asha.
That was until she found out about NumberNagar and enrolled her son for their month-long summer course this April. “They didn’t assure better scores if he took the course. For me too, it wasn’t all about the marks; I wanted his interest in maths to be rekindled,” she adds. Kaustub, now studying at Narayana E Techno School, is waiting to move up to the next class, so he may learn the many interesting theorems that he has seen at the NumberNagar facility in Basavanagudi.
The fear or aversion of mathematics that Kaustub experienced earlier is not uncommon among school kids. But NumberNagar, designed for students of class three to eight, seeks to make maths a fun experience.
“The idea is to link maths to the things around us in the city. That’s how the term Nagar came into the brand name. It could be anything from a mall and a temple to pizza slices or the metro. Many of the exercises require a student to make a call or go home, find out some information and then use it for calculations,” says Ravi Shankar, CEO of BrainSTARS .
NumberNagar was conceptualised around a year ago by BrainSTARS, an organisation dedicated to fostering and nurturing the movement of Science Education in India. It has now entered schools from this academic year. The organisation revamps a classroom at the school into a lab with NumberNagar equipment and trains teachers on how to use them.
So far, NumberNagar has been set up in four schools across the city - the three Sri Vani Education group schools and EME School.
“We are in talks with a few schools in Mumbai, Delhi and Punjab,” says Shankar. “This is a global product, though we might have to make a few alterations for schools abroad.” He adds that the organisation intends to reach out to rural areas as well.
Talking to City Express, Sharadaprasad R H, principal, Sri Vani School, Rajajinagar says, “We have been looking for a multi-disciplinary approach to maths for about four years now. I’ve noticed that children are fine with maths while they are learning the basics of addition, subtraction, multiplication and division and a few simple concepts. But when they reach class three, say when they start dealing with fractions, they begin to develop a fear of the subject. Most of the time, it’s unfounded.”
The educationist also adds that while it’s too early yet to say whether the new approach to maths has aided understanding, the schoolchildren’s attitude towards it has definitely taken a turn for the better. “They don’t fear maths any more; they respect it,” he adds.
However, the school does not want to restrict the experience to the age range recommended by BrainSTARS . “For nursery kids, they can be taken to the lab as a field trip. Class nine to twelve students already avail the facility. We also want to train all the teachers - not just the maths ones - to use the equipment.”
Currently, about 3,000 students of the school have access to the labs across the three campuses for a minimum of three hours a month.