Homeschooling Vs.Traditional schooling: Considered homeschooling your kids?

Homeschooling

Being a less-known and an even less-practiced concept, I would love to share an experience with you about homeschooling; a road less traveled by!

“There is no school equal to a decent home and no teacher equal to a virtuous parent.”

Gandhi

In the middle of the room was a bed where my younger friend was sitting and reading a book which was as heavy as him. I couldn’t help but wonder how much he was understanding from what he was reading. That was the first time I realized that:

One of my mother’s friend has two kids, a son, and a daughter. The first time I visited their house was at their son’s birthday party many years ago. The next time I went there my aunt showed me a room full of books. It was no less than a one-room library.

Learning has less to do with a person’s age and more to do with the person himself.

Homeschooling

The series of visits kept happening over the years. Every time I visited them I found myself picking up books from their one-room library and skimming through them. And everytime they would visit us, they’d get books for me and my siblings.

They would also often take me along to the museums and libraries they visited. During such one-day trips, we would share our hobbies, experiences, and thoughts and would get to terms with the way we were learning the same things in different settings and manners. My aunt would often appreciate my parents for raising us with diverse interests and skills that were being nourished by both my parents’ efforts and school activities.

Homeschooling

A few years later, I remember giving my board exams when my younger friend was appearing for some college-entrance exams, in which he excelled. The second realization happened that day. I  discerned that:

What we do in life does not need to be a part of a system that works in ways that are pre-defined; there is always some scope to customize.

In my first year of college I happened to visit one of the IITs as part of the music society; the same college where my younger friend had already completed three years of graduation. Seeing the outcome of homeschooling I definitely agreed that if done right, homeschooling can do wonders for a child’s mind.

On one hand, I saw him indulging mostly in academic activities and excelling at them. While on the other hand saw myself performing decently at both academics and hobbies. This got me wondering if my friend was constantly performing under pressure to prove himself and making the most of being homeschooled.

His younger sister’s learning process was similar to mine. Except that she would only go to the school she was enrolled in to give exams. How amazing was that?

Homeschooling children comes with great responsibility. If you’re planning to homeschool your child you might want to take a look at the points below.

  1. Homeschooling requires personal attention and monitoring by at least one of the parents. Proper planning and execution would be important to remain on track.
  2. At some point, you would need to hire home-tutors and would have to choose them wisely depending on their knowledge, teaching skills, and ability to connect.
  3. Getting your kid/kids to socialize with kids of their age would be as necessary for their development as keeping yourself updated with what their peers are learning.
  4. In the process of homeschooling, you will have to find ways to teach them to live away from you and think independently.
  5. To ensure their life doesn’t get boring, learning outside of the four walls would be essential. You might want to find ways to provide the needed exposure.
  6. Counseling may be an integral part to enable them to feel confident about your choice of homeschooling and not feel like they’re missing out on something
  7. Lastly, prepare your child for the world by educating him/her about cultural differences, society, and the realities of the world.

And yes, while you are at homeschooling your child, you can use the wide product range offered by ThinkTac. They enable experiential learning of science concepts to simplify and make science fun for your kid!

“We can get too easily bogged down in the academic part of homeschooling, a relatively minor part of the whole, which is to raise competent, caring, literate, happy people.” ―

Diane Flynn Keith
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Mindfulness for Kids: Why they need it and what can be done to improve it

Today, life can be equated with a turbulent boat on which you are the sailor. Needs are pressing and the obstacles are mounting; only with true control of the swaying boat, can you assure yourself a smooth sail. Our children are no strangers to this whirlpool called modern life. To thrive and propel in such times, mindfulness for kids is vital.

Courtesy: Giphy.com

We can all agree that the challenges of today’s competitive world require us to be more mentally present for the numerous activities than ever before.

(Disclaimer: This blog might be a little long, but I promise you it’s worth sticking through)

What is mindfulness?

Mindfulness is our ability to be fully present, aware of where we are and what we’re doing.

In 4 words, mindfulness means “To Be Mentally Present”.

Mindfulness
Courtesy: Pocket Mindfulness

Relevancy of Mindfulness for Children

Our kids today are expected to be equipped to face gargantuan challenges in their academic and personal lives. With growing expectations, anxiety and exhaustion follow suit.

We all have seen and experienced the following situations:

  • Lack of focus in the job at hand
  • Decreasing appetite and energy levels
  • A general apathetic approach to life
  • Deteriorating social skills
  • Unexplained fatigue and irritability
  • Constant running out of gas

To tackle these worrisome realities from taking over their mind space, the scope of mindfulness arises for our kids.

Mindfulness is elevated by connections in the prefrontal circuits in our brain, which are created at their fastest rate during childhood.

As parents that come across this concept, we often have the same question of “what’s in store for our kids?”.

What to expect from mindfulness practice for our children?

Experts state that such practices build the five pillars that in turn serve as the foundation for any other skills that our kids will go on to imbibe. These are:

  1. Focus and inner strength
  2. Cognitive control
  3. Self-Regulation
  4. Judgement and Reasoning
  5. Patience and Empathy

These learnings help our kids make more sense of their inner and outer experience and build an understanding of everything that encompasses their world.

How can the kids practice it?

Research shows mindfulness for kids brings positive effects on their mental health and well-being.

Teaching mindfulness to children and adolescents is a growing trend as part of therapy and as part of the curriculum in schools.

There are numerous ways that our kids can be guided to be more mindful.

These include meditation, rhythmic breathing, expressing gratitude, and practising self-love. However, mindfulness is a very personal experience and is highly subjective.

Today there are several meditation apps, like that of Andy Puddicombe’s Headspace app that help you jump start on the journey of mindfulness

Much like science, it comes with the development of an aptitude. This aptitude, when met with compassion and reasoning, goes on to develop the five pillars that I earlier mentioned.

Significance of mindfulness for kids

Most working adults today crave a sense of being at peace with themselves and their surroundings. Over time, we all have realised that this serenity is not something that can be carted overnight.

With the adoption of mindfulness, you tend to become more aware of your thoughts, emotions and physical feelings. Now simply imagine the understated power of such awareness in our young kids. Through practise it will:

  • Help them notice when they get caught up in negative thoughts so that they can manage them
  • Make them aware of the effect that thoughts or events have on their body, so that they can look after themselves better
  • Empower them to make a choice about how they respond to their thoughts and feelings
  • Engrain in them the truism that thoughts come and go and that does not have to define who they are or what their experience of the world is
  • Aid them to truly appreciate the bounty and shortcomings of everything around them

It is a conscious journey that must be embarked on early in life for it to have a lasting impact. For our innate responses to be mindful, it needs to be a part of our system.

Some people may even go on to say that mindfulness as a practice is the only skill we can leave behind as an asset for the further generations to embrace.

If today’s children look to be knowledgeable and technically sound to create a better tomorrow, we must hand them the true reins of their lives and the adoption of such practices is a step in that direction.

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Can Playing Prepare your Child to Face Life?

kids playing

Your child’s body doesn’t know the difference between playing and exercising. But their mind sure knows when they are having fun. We adults call it working out, while our children call it playing.

Ever felt like your kid is whiling away precious time while indulging in fun and games? Well, that’s okay, it sometimes worries the best of us!

Which is why, like me, a lot of us consciously or unconsciously, infringe on our children’s playtime by enrolling them into mentally taxing tuitions.

 

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But, what if I told you that the time ‘squandered away’ in playing, could teach your child more than what Kumar Sir could in 100 hours of his class?

Well, here’s my argument to how children learn life’s most important lesson through playing:

1. EVERY ACTION HAS A CONSEQUENCE.

Has your kid ever hidden her bruises from you? This is probably because she loves going out in the park more than sitting at home but also knows you, who wish the best for her, will ask her to stay back.

By taking responsibility for her actions, your child understands the VALUE IN PAIN and that EVERY ACTION HAS A CONSEQUENCE.

2. NEVER GIVE UP ATTITUDE

Ever consoled your injured son, only to have him desert you and get back to playing at the blink of an eye, as if he never got hurt?

Well, it is no news that your kid loves to play and some words of encouragement from you is exactly what he needs to get back on the field and instill a NEVER GIVE UP ATTITUDE.

Playing for kids

 

Maybe a few times over they would understand that the bruises would come and go but THEY’D KEEP GETTING STRONGER.

3. OVERCOMING FEARS

At a very young age, my daughter developed a fear of swings. But it took a great deal of communication, choosing the right words, and going on swings myself, to lure her into getting onto swings.

Initially, I would have her sit on my lap until one day she went on it by herself. And then never stopped!

 

Playing for kids

 

If you ever find yourself in this spot, you could subtly help your child learn that running away from what scares you is never the solution. It is FACING YOUR FEARS, that can expand your horizons.

4. DEDICATION BEATS MOTIVATION

Ask any professional athlete what makes them great and they will tell you that, it is showing up on the days when they don’t want to, is what made them exceptional.

CONSISTENCY IS KEY to learning and growing in life. And what can teach this better than the discipline that your child learns from just any sport she chooses to play! Yes, even chess!

5. AND EVERYTHING ELSE

From inculcating healthy habits and instilling qualities like PERSISTENCE, RESILIENCE, to DEVELOPING REFLEXES; Playing a sport can teach your child just about everything and holistically develop them.

Whether they play solo or in teams, at the end of the day, they LEARN TO HANDLE BOTH SUCCESS & FAILURE.

The hobbies your child chooses today have the potential to become her/his strengths tomorrow.

My advice to you: Instead of encroaching on your child’s playing hours, next time, join your kid and play along! I’m sure you’re never too old to rekindle the inner child in you. And yes, it’ll improve the bond between your kid and yourself!

A Family that plays together, stays together! ThinkTac

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Curtailing your Kid’s Phone Usage: Good or Bad?

children using phone

Have you ever had one of those discussions with your children: How as kids, you went around running, climbing trees, chasing your friends while playing catch-catch?

Right after which, you see your son spend his summer sitting on the phone or the iPad. And the generational gap hits you in the face like a dodgeball!?

The Phone-age

Much like the Stone-age, where stones were an active part of the lifestyle, if this current era that we lived in had to be given a name, it would certainly be the Phone-age.

You must have considered seizing your kid’s phone because he needs to experience the “real world” more often. However, would that necessarily be a good idea?

Let’s look at both sides of the argument.

The Shortcomings

Here are a few banes of your child having a phone:

1. May result in reduced Social Skills

The more time your kids spend on their phones, the less time they have to interact face-to-face. This is probably hindering their one-on-one social skills.

2. They are susceptible to higher levels of Anxiety and Depression

A study by science daily says that the pressure to be available on social media 24/7 leads to higher levels of depression and anxiety among teenagers these days.

3. May result in reduced sleeping time.

The compulsion to be on the phone, before going to bed, may slowly be infringing their sleeping time. As a result, these kids may actually be missing out on the crucial sleep necessary during their childhood.

Also, it so happens that the light emitted from phones, tablets and computers emit more from the blue region of the spectrum; this triggers the hormone serotonin (which helps us stay awake) and suppresses the hormone melatonin (which helps us sleep).

via GIPHY

This can have a detrimental effect on our child’s sleep pattern, especially if exposure is just prior to their sleep time

4. Increased problems with weight

When children choose to play virtual games on their phones over the rather more traditional games and sports that involve more physical activity, it leads to sedentary lifestyle patterns that hamper their health and can result in increasing their weight and childhood obesity.

5. Decreasing Attention Span

In a study by Boston College, it was found that when the students were kept in a room with both television and computers on, they switched their eyes back and forth every 14 seconds — 120 times in 27.5 minutes.

Clearly, from all of the above, now you would be pretty convinced to not put a phone in your kid’s hands EVER again!

But needless to say, having a phone also has its positive aspects. And, to jump to a rational conclusion, it would only be fair to take a look at the positive aspects of giving your son or daughter that small yet powerful machine.

The Strengths

1. Changing Social Habits

Yes, most of us reading this, value the importance of face-to-face interaction and wouldn’t want it to die. However, it is also true that society is always evolving and there is little that we can do to change that.

Interactions today are moving from real life to virtual interactions and would you really want to hinder your child’s evolution into this rapidly changing society?

2. Communication

Do you really want your son/daughter to miss out on an assignment that was communicated over WhatsApp on his class group? No, right?

As much as your children would use their phone for texting their friends, at the end of the day all they are doing is staying connected. Man is a social animal, after all!

3. Technological Evolution

As quick as it sounds, the world is getting ever closer to the futuristic picture shown in the movie Love Story 2050. And our kids are the vehicle for this digital evolution. By depriving them of a phone in their learning years, you are impeding their smooth landing into this digital era.

4. Infinite Knowledge

Yes, we all can agree that Google and YouTube have content that all the books in the world couldn’t cover! The kind of knowledge that the internet can provide us with, nothing else in the world can, so easily and ubiquitously. Wouldn’t you want your child to know things beyond the textbooks and the courses taught in school?

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5. SOS Scenario

Imagine you are unable to trach your child. In such situation, you can use the GPS tracking on the phone to know that your child is somewhere safe and sound. Hopefully, you’d never have to use this. But the facility is available, just in case. And the emergency dial feature on the phone would also come in handy if your child is in a threatened or dangerous situation.

The Decision

Okay, so now that we have seen a few boons and banes, here’s what we can conclude:

  1. Using the phone isn’t bad, abusing it is. You may want to restrict your kid’s phone use to a certain amount every day. (even the CEO of Snap does it!)
  2. Educating your child about the addictions and making them aware of the harm of overusing a phone would certainly help.
  3. It would help to show them a lot of educational platforms (like ThinkTac) the phone can provide while at the same time, ensuring they make use of it.

Curbing them from using a phone is only going to make them want to use it more than ever! In an article by Psychology Today it has been shown that Scarcity makes everything a lot more desirable.

So, it’s your call to make. Whether you would want your child to be deprived of a phone in their early years and binge on their phone usage later or to have them accustomed to the Dos and Don’ts of a phone from early in their childhood!

Do you agree? Let me know your thoughts and inputs in the comments below!

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The Science Behind Transpiration: Do plants sweat?

Transpiration in plants

Transpiration in Plants

Transpiration is the loss of water from plants in the form of water vapour.

Imagine, during your summer vacations, you go to play football outside. The Sun is scorching hot. One thing you need right now, more than scoring a goal, is a bottle of water! Any living being for that matter needs the same. Do you think plants also need the same?

Yes, they do.

 

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In fact, the water does not magically disappear from a plant. Plants lose water from them through a process called transpiration. 

Transpiration happens in part because plants need to breathe. Plants need to take in carbon dioxide and to do this, they need to open their stomata. When this happens, water comes out

 

Transpiration is the process by which moisture is carried through plants from the roots to small pores on the underside of leaves, where it evapourates to vapour and is released to the atmosphere.

Transpiration Water Cycle

This release of water vapour into the atmosphere, through transpiration, creates a water cycle. It is called the transpiration water cycle. It occurs when:

 

  • The water from the nearby soil is absorbed into the roots due to the hydraulic conductivity of the soil and the magnitude of the pressure gradient through the soil.
  • The water flows from the roots to the leaves. This is driven by capillary action (Capillary action occurs when the adhesion to the walls is stronger than the cohesive forces between the liquid molecules).
  • The water from the leaves enters the atmosphere. The water potential in the surrounding air is lower than the water potential in the leaf airspace of the stomatal pore. Due to this, water vapour from the cells in the leaves enters the atmosphere as water vapuor. This process is known as transpiration.
  • The water vapour in the atmosphere now forms clouds through the process of condensation. 
  • And these clouds of water vapour turn into water droplets and fall back on earth through the process of precipitation
  • This water that falls on the land, is then absorbed by the soil and is used to nourish the plants. 

This cycle keeps repeating and hence, is called the transpiration water cycle.

Tactivity

You will hardly need anything for this tactivity. If you have a broad leaved plant in your garden, then it is well and good, otherwise you can always head to the nearest park and look for the same.

All you need to do is wrap a plastic sheet around the leaf and close it tightly. Wait for a few hours and you will see water droplets inside the plastic sheet, as though the leaf has “sweat” – or  TRANSPIRED – as  shown in the video below:

To learn more about the applications and important concepts, enroll for your course on ThinkTac, where you can get to do live experiments using the materials that come with your package, to understand the concepts better.


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We All Have a Puppeteer

Before I disclose who your puppeteer is, I want you to play a game.

No, it’s not you. 😉

You have to stare into your friend’s eyes and whoever blinks first will lose.

With this, one thing is clear,you are not the puppeteer of your own body because you have to try so hard to not blink, despite being the master of your voluntary movements!

Who is the master?

It’s your brain!!

Yes, you have to be grateful to your brain for making you remember where your best friend lives or the dreams that you have when you are asleep, or not being in charge of how often you blink.

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Isn’t it amazing that your brain knows when you are asleep and doesn’t disturb you by making you constantly blink your eyes; or know when you are awake, hence not bothering you to start dreaming?

To sum it up, intelligence, creativity, emotion, and memory are a few of the many things governed by the brain.

Of course, the main factor to be thankful for is that we are alive because of it.

Strings Attached

Now we are going to make a brain model of our own.

The model will make it fun for you to understand the main parts-or-strings- that make us puppets, think innovative things and function in our day to day lives.

Protected within the skull,the brain is composed of the cerebrum,cerebellum, and brainstem.

The brain receives information through our five senses: sight, smell, touch, taste, and hearing. 

Fun Fact: The adult brain weighs 1.5 kilograms(3.3 lbs), on average.

  1. Cerebrum: largest part of the brain. It allows you to move, touch, feel and see.
  2. Cerebellum: coordinates you to maintain postures, muscle movements and balance. It is behind all the amazing yogis and gymnasts that represent our country.
  3. Brainstem: includes the midbrain, pons, and medulla. It acts as a relay centre connecting the cerebrum and cerebellum to the spinal cord. It performs many automatic functions such as breathing, heart rate, body temperature, wake and sleep cycles, digestion, sneezing,coughing, vomiting, and swallowing.
  4. The 4 Lobes of the brain: frontal,temporal,parietal and occipital. Each lobe may be divided,once again, into areas that serve very specific functions.

i) Frontal Lobe

  • Personality,behaviour, emotions
  • Judgement, problem solving
  • Speech
  • Body movement
  • Intelligence, concentration, self-awareness

ii) Temporal Lobe

  • Memory
  • Hearing
  • Understanding language

iii) Parietal Lobe

  • Interprets words
  • languages
  • sense of touch
  • pain
  • Interprets signals from vision
  • hearing, sensory and memory

iv) Occipital Lobe

  • Interprets vision (colour, light, movement)

The brain is an organ that serves as the centre of the nervous system and is the most complex organ in the human body.  The brain is located in the head, close to the sensory organs, such as the eyes.

Now that we are coming towards the end, you may feel happy to realise that the process of understanding this blog was an example of yet another successful puppet show!

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1 Tool Away from Improving Your Cognitive Skills

Wonder why some of your friends are faster at grasping concepts in class? 

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Earlier we shared 5 ways to improve your critical thinking.

Likewise, we will share the secret of being the fastest learner in class.

Time to put your ThinkTacap  on.

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Now you must have figured that cognition is merely a reference to memory-ability to comprehend new information, speech and written notes. 

What builds your cognitive skills?

We are constantly in touch with our surroundings,physically and mentally. 

When you are sitting in class distracted, it’s because the learning experience is not able to grab your attention, instead wanting to figure out what the other student outside your classroom is doing seems more fun. 

You may notice that I highlighted learning experience;simply to help you understand why being distracted seemed like a better idea.

For instance, the other kid standing outside your class filling his water bottle and then ending up spilling it all over him by mistake, made you laugh. 

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He grabbed your attention by the activity he was performing. You may have observed how the water was filling up the bottle and the process of mishandling the object (water bottle). 

Now you are willing to share that with your friend,right? You tell your friend in detail what happened and how silly or embarrassing it must have been for that kid. 

Fun Fact: If you recall such an incident, you do have a great cognitive memory. 

Learning The Important 

Wouldn’t your class been more fun if you had an experiential tool to  practically show you what magnetic forces do? 

They can definitely make a frog jump. Yes, try it for yourself and be the whiz kid of class that you are.

Don’t forget to share the cool trick with your friends and teacher too. After all, interacting with people and remembering their face is part of improving your cognitive skills. 


Therefore,  choosing any one experiential tool that can help you understand a concept will not only improve your cognitive skills but also enhance your knowledge and passion for Science. 

Don’t forget to share your innovations with us at bit.ly/2ElCHxj.

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The One True Way To Make Learning Fun For Your Child

Fun? What’s that?

After a  long day at work, you come back home exhausted and you just want to sleep. But then you remember that your little one has his homework to do.

With the diminishing energy that you have, you sit with him to do his homework, only to see him apathetic and unresponsive to your attempts at making him study!

Well, if this is the case, then I can assure you, you’re not alone.

The Plague

Education in India is continually found guilty of being mundane and pro-rote methods. We can definitely empathise with our kids on this one, as we ourselves have been victims of this education system. 

Children Studies
Make learning fun for children

The one thing our kids focus on while they sit there “ardently” studying is, when they can go back to play

We have always categorised School and games as mutually exclusive. But, can there be a fun way to integrate the two and give our children the fun they seek, whilst giving them the knowledge that they require? 

The Trick

Yes, the very scarce, yet obvious solution to this would be to integrate the polar opposites of fun and education.

According to a report by Jessica Sanders in her Market Analysis blog, 70% of teachers have seen that implementing games in their teaching aids increases the response they get from students, yet only 18% of them are implementing them.

This is the reason why ThinkTac has come up with a range of fun and games to redefine how schools teach in India.

studying for kids

Benefits of the Integration

I can assure you that the benefits to this integration are endless but here are my top few:

  1. Deep-rooted understanding: When youngsters play a game, they tend to go through the instructions and technicalities more carefully. As they are aware that these need to be recalled at a point later in the game. The perks of knowing the terms and complex jargon are more exciting in a game vs. a mundane Monday morning lesson.
  2. Dealing with Failure:  Games transform the discomfort and mental hurdle that ‘failure’ can create and turns it into an opportunity to master the task at hand.
  3. Increasing the attention span: With the advent of smartphones, the attention span of the younger generation has been on a big decline. With the focus needed in video games, your kid can now have a platform to work on the dearth of his concentration. 
  4. Less to worry: Going back to the point of you coming back exhausted from work, you can now be rest assured that your child is studying wisely and you can finally sleep peacefully!

At this note, I shall leave you with some food for thought. 

When we make play the foundation of learning, we teach the Whole Child.

Vince Gowmon

We also have a really cool competition for your innovative little genius, check it out here.

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Theoretical Learning vs Experiential Learning

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TACtivity To Understand Simplicity 

Nowadays, the biggest hurdle to overcome is the kid’s attitude towards Science. 

You might think that it is boring or you simply don’t understand it. 

However, you may realise that declaring Science to be tough is simpler than trying to understand why!

Textbooks earlier said, ‘Man needs air, water, food and shelter for survival.’ Today they might as well say, ‘Man needs air, water, food, shelter and machines for survival.’

We, at ThinkTac,understand this and realise that classrooms need to bring the hands-on experiential tools approach to help you understand better and not fear it.

After all, we like what we understand.

Let’s Understand 

Okay, Junior Einsteins ! To invent, you need imagination and a pile
of junk. 

Yes, that’s how simple it is. 

TACtivity 1

We all are aware of the DIY experiments that we go through every now and then, especially when we have a science project submission to do.  

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However, we are going to move beyond the “memorising without understanding” approach.Y

Don’t run after the A grade, make it run after you. 

If you are in love with music and want to be reminded of your limits every time you play your favourite jam out loud,then making a SPEAKER is what you are going to love. 

TACtivity 2

Yes, we have more!! 

You know how people pull water from tube wells? There was a genius like you behind making it convenient for the people. 

You know what it’s called ? Yes, it’s called a pulley and you can make it on your own now. Also, understand better the process integrated in executing a pulley. 

All you need to do is to be a witness to your surroundings and practise the 3Rs at the same time- Reduce, Reuse, Recycle. 

Do you have innovative ideas of your own? 

Don’t shy away from contributing to the growth of Science.

  Register now for your biggest breakthrough. 

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