Last week, the TCoL team participated in the Bal Mela which was organised by American India Foundation (AIF) in GMPS Puttenhalli. This was our first major event with children as part of the TCoL project. We were excited but at the same time did not know what to expect and decided to go with the flow.
Till now, we are confident of how the teachers use technology and educational tools that we were training them on. We were sure that children would love them as well and at the event decided to start out with the crowd-puller KGeography. (KGeography is a free and open source educational tool which helps to learn location of capitals and states from countries all across the world. It is a fun interactive tool which presents questions in a quiz form.) Once we set up the projector and had all the computers in the lab running, the students were playing with the tool and trying to figure out the locations of the different states of India.
For me, it was interesting to see the dynamics between each group. The game excited them and they were nudging each other one, each trying to get the attention of the other and each convinced that they were right! This game was also a useful way for them to check each other's answers. Each child had to justify why she/he felt that the answer was correct. Only if all the children of the group were convinced would that answer be ticked on. Also if a child felt that another was going on, they were loud cries to change the answer. This kind of group work did not intimidate the children. It was a peer learning process with children helping each other out. With the coordinators and ou supervision and assistance, each child got a chance to use the computer.
Overall the Bal Mela was a fun event for the children to test each other's skills and showcase their talents. The children had put up stalls on Science, History, Geography and Language. Around 700 children participated in this Mela by going to the various stalls and trying to answer the questions put to them. They enjoyed the competitiveness of the Mela as well as the fact that they could portray their work of art for everyone to see.
For us, the highlight was a young girl who said that she had never touched the computer before and now after playing KGeography thought it was fun and not difficult at all. She was especially apprehensive about using a laptop but once she started got engrossed in the game and forgot all her fears!
We thank the AIF team for giving us an opportunity to participate in this Mela.