Report by: Rojin Shrestha
Post by: Sangya Gyawali
Do you remember your first science experiment from elementary school? If you do, you are lucky because many students who study Science in place like Nepal never get a chance to do experiments. However, thanks to the recently inaugurated Shikharapur Rukmini Science Lab, our students now have a place to gain practical understanding of science through experimentation. Since its recent establishment, the lab has gained massive popularity among students who are eager to learn. A lab of any kind is a luxury for most schools in rural Nepal as they are usually under-funded and under-resourced, but we look to change that, and it is having an immediate impact as students enter a Science class with wide eyes and leave even more curious than before.
Susmita Shrestha (grade 3) learns to measure with a beaker as her classmates watch enthusiastically.
At Shikharapur, students are taught at the elementary and secondary levels. When before they were learning from books and lectures only, now each class is scheduled time at the lab for hands-on learning. All three Science teachers have access to the lab, and are happy to be able to show the students and not just lecture. Roughly 400 students visit the lab each week, ready to pull up their sleeves and get their hands dirty. Engagement is at an all time high!
Students eagerly observe a science experiment demonstration
We have known that taking learning beyond the textbooks is the best way to engage children, but due to the school’s limited resources it had not been possible. Thanks to the support of our donors, and especially programs at companies like Bentley Systems, which support STEM (Science, Technology, Engineering, and Math) programs through their company giving programs, we were able to raise enough funds to establish this lab. The results have been immediate, as the lab is already enhancing their curiosity, which is vital during this early stage of development.
3rd Grade Students excited that they get to “play” with equipment and learn Science
A building and equipment alone does not make this possible, and we want to give a huge thanks to the teachers at the school and the Rukmini staff who support them. As part of increasing curiosity, one of the things we stress to the scholars is the concept of questioning things. Promoting students to ask questions and developing their curiosity are key components of our mentoring (Didi) program as well as our quality improvement initiative called Project Based Learning (PBL). You can read about Rukmini’s past and ongoing PBL programs and their benefits here. The Shikharapur Rukmini Science Lab is a living, breathing extension of our long held mission to bring quality education to rural Nepal. Our students are born into some of the most under-developed areas of Nepal, but this type of birth lottery doesn’t mean they are any less deserving of a quality education.
Future astronauts? We certainly hope so, and can even imagine it being possible.
I may not remember my first science experiment, but I do remember learning about body systems through skeleton models and conducting various experiments in class alongside Bill Nye the Science Guy on T.V. These early years allowed me to test my own hypotheses, reaffirmed facts I learned in class, and deepened my love of Science. I pursued these interests all the way to my University. There is no telling which how our students will be inspired by their time at the Shikharapur Rukmini Science Lab, and maybe just maybe we’ll educated future doctors, physicists, scientists, engineers, or even our very first Nepali Astronaut!