At a time when the ongoing fuel crisis in the Kathmandu valley was effecting everyone, the crisis had repercussions on the Book Bus programs as well. The Book Bus, lacking fuel, is now quietly resting inside the premises of the American Recreational Center. But we nonetheless decided to go ahead with our programs and made a trip to Madrasa Islamiya School without taking the Book Bus along. While we all missed the presence of the bus, we felt there was still a lot we could do in the school by taking what we could carry.
The program at Madrasa Islamiya School was build around the Science Module. Science lessons on sound and pressure for eighth and tenth graders were spread over two days. Five Book Bus instructors demonstrated simple experiments in small groups of 4-5 students each. One particular experiment had students observe how rockets move forward. A blown up balloon was tied to a string, which moved forward, propelled by the air that left the balloon, demonstrating Newton’s third law: Every action has an equal but opposite reaction. The students calculated the distance travelled by the balloon on a normal string and on a fluffy string to show how friction affects the distance the balloon travels. These figures were later averaged and shown in bar diagrams. The excitement of students doing the experiments caught the attention of all the other juniors and teachers around them.
Likewise, the Book Bus program incorporated elements of storytelling and art to teach concepts like photosynthesis and the importance of the sun in sustaining life on earth. The art/storytelling class had 5th, 6th, 8th and 10th graders develop a comic strip. The 5th and 6th graders worked on the cover page and developing characters, while the 8th and 10th graders worked on building stories of their own, with the characters on the cover page. Students had a lot of fun as they imagined square and triangular suns having conversations with trees and planets, filling their characters up with brightly colored crayons, and writing cute dialogues. Besides art, a separate read-aloud session for primary school students saw them enjoy a number of stories as they were read out to them.
This time around, the Book Bus trip was a completely different experience for the instructors and coordinators as they had to adapt to its absence. It was unfortunate that we did not have the Book Bus but were happy to be engaging students in meaningful and rich learning experiences. Even in such difficult times, it is still possible to do so much!
Written by Anudeep Dewan (English Language and Arts Program Coordinator)