Apart From This
Since 1995 when we began our first batch of G3 (IX-XII) students, we have been engaging many a student over the summer in the school under various activities. It began with students wanting to help out build the science labs, which I must say we built practically from scratch without much professional help, then came the computer lab and the assembly and slowly it got more technical. Some projects were to help design the garden outside the school gate, while some were to plan the color scheme for the premises after experimenting with different computer models. Some students spent their time developing electronic gadgets to be used in the computer labs while some brainstormed on what books to get for the library. Some summers were spent discussing philosophy with students who then debated over various issues, while some went on with exhaustive discussions on advanced physics & astronomy. Some students helped actually make wash basins in the science labs (then a make-shift concept) while some designed curriculum in arts & humanities for their juniors. All-in-all it seems beyond rhyme or reason why many students spend most of their summer staying on at school; but then there is always a method to the madness ...
The whole point of this effort can be surmised in the following principles I have followed from the very beginning:
Students either work at the school or at some other site and are supervised by experts. Their transport during any visits out of school is taken care of by the school. Most of the facilities / material required for their work, such as computers & other lab equipment or classrooms or tools will be provided by the school. However certain projects / workshops require specially purchased / designed material. To bear all these costs the students have to pay a token fee for enrollment. Cost of outside experts and/or material that needs to be specially ordered for the use by the student will be borne by the student. We broadly classify the activities into two types as below:
Students have to work under the employ of any individual / organization. The student is treated as an employee although unskilled and as such is trained on the job and paid either in cash or kind. The employer is chosen by us only when we are assured of proper treatment to the student and some contribution to the students knowledge of the real world. The employer and the student work out a convenient plan for the job and it may range from 15 days to a couple of months. This may include employing a student within the school for assisting a professional in his/her job. This category requires that the student be at least in the 9th standard.
Faculty or outside experts are asked to take courses wherein students learn subjects or concepts beyond the curriculum taught at any level in this premises. These courses can range from the arts to the sciences, form the extremely theoretical to the downright practical. Anything that a certain faculty is interested in delivering and he/she can find enough no of interested students is passe. The only constraints are that decency be maintained at all times and that the course content be within the grasp of the age group being targeted.
This includes working on-site at the school or off-site for certain field-work type of assignments. Students will be accompanied by teachers on any such visits unless some other guardian takes custody.
Some of the projects listed below may be changed / removed due to lack of sufficient no of students. Students can opt from - Working on a farm, Tours & Travels, Computer Maintenance, Arts Workshop, Scientific Data Processing - or can come up with their own ideas provided they find some faculty to guide them for the same. Typically the school will run from 5th to 25th of April, however certain projects may end earlier or later than these dates depending on the nature of the project. On the 25th there will be a short closing ceremony wherein the certificates for participation will be distributed with students while they share their experiences with their colleagues from other areas.
A group of 7-8 students all boys or all girls will stay on a farm for a week to do all sorts of jobs such as planting or maintaining trees/crop, observing the basics of agriculture, helping in creating dams or lakes in the farmland, woodcraft and chiefly agro-tourism. The farm site on the outskirts of Neral, belongs to Dr. Shekhar Bhadsavle (a food-technologist with a US degree) who has pioneered the concept of Agro-Tourism in India where tourists are shown various agro-activities on the farm & given joy rides such as on a buffalo in a lake or a bath in the river, etc. bringing them closer to the simplicity of rural life. The students may have to work on demonstrating fish-farming or aspects of planting commercially viable crops, etc. Dr. Bhadsavle will take care of the food & lodging of the students, however they should not expect to be treated like guests and should accept the same conditions as any other worker on the farm. The student should be physically fit enough to take the stress of a hard-days labor and mentally fit enough to blend with the villagers. The activity can go for many batches depending on the no of students interested.
A few individuals can be employed at the travels office of the school president Mr. Sushil Soni. This work is particularly suitable to college students who would like to make some money over the summer and in doing so learn how to deal with people. (read customers & colleagues) The work chiefly involves visiting various travel operators in and around Dombivli & Kalyan for collection of money and other business dealings between 5 to 8 in the evening and then checking in / picking up passengers outbound on various bus routes run by the company up to 11:00 in the night. This job may entail risk of confrontations / arguments with some rude customers, however under the guidance of senior staff, the student learns how to negotiate and resolve conflicts at the same time maintaining a discipline in the dealings. The student should be old enough to manage the traveling around town late into the night while taking care of his/her food & other needs. If the student decides to stay on for a longer duration in the work he/she may get an opportunity to learn how to plan and manage tour packages and to book customers.
Some students can be employed by a computer maintenance company - Ace Computers - in Dombivli MIDC for the purposes of assembling / repairing computers either at their premises or at the client's site. The job timings can be suited to the needs of the student in consultation with the employer. The students will be taught he basics of computer assembly and hardware as well as software troubleshooting. They will work under the guidance of some staff in order to avoid damage to the equipment but will otherwise get a free hand in trying things out. This will prepare the student for a future diploma / degree in computer engineering.
Those who are inclined to take medicine for a career can try actually working at a hospital this summer and get a first hand experience of the skills required in nursing, or care-giving as well as managing the patients and appointments. Girls can vote to work with gynecologist Dr. Petkar of "Matoshree" hospital while the boys can opt to work for Dr. Pate at their children's hospital. The student may have to assist patients in taking their medication or do a few chores for the patient or simply give the patient some company to aid them psychologically in their recovery. Sometimes the student may have to attend patients calling in for a visit to the doctor. The students may get to observe closely the treatment delivered by the doctor or maybe even get to see an operation in progress.
This workshop will go from the 5th to the 25th of April and will include broadly four areas of training as listed below. The different art forms will require various expenses such as raw material and tools, for which Rs.600/- are to be paid by the student. Certain inexpensive material that the student can also use later on will have to be bought by the student before the workshop.
This workshop focuses on developing the skills needed to work in scientific computing & research. The student needs to know basics of any programming language such as Visual Basic. The course includes a rundown on data in various formats, (which includes images & graphics along with data formats) and the manipulations that can be done upon the data such as matrix operations, statistical sampling and distributions, plotting & curve fitting and various transforms. The final application of the crash course in mathematics & computing will be to play with live data for Image Processing applications as well as astronomical computing (verifying Hubble's law or finding abundances of elements using spectral data, etc.). The course will run typically for 15 days and students will be required to practice the methods taught, in their free time, to be adept at the programming. After this the student can even start processing data from actual observatories and reach interesting conclusions which can be made into small publications.