EDUCATION IN SCIENCE AND MATHEMATICS
The NCERT has been making continuous and sustained efforts to improve the quality of Science and Mathematics education in schools. It performs the role of 'think tank' for quality improvement and carries out research, development, training, evaluation and extension activities.
The NCERT has been making continuous and sustained efforts to improve the quality of Science and Mathematics education in schools. It performs the role of 'think tank' for quality improvement and carries out research, development, training, evaluation and extension activities. The major developmental activities include: (i) curriculum development in Science and Mathematics for all stages of school education, (ii) development of prototype curricular materials in Science and Mathematics for learners and teachers, and (iii) textual materials in Science and Mathematics. Elements of Environmental Education are woven through the entire Curriculum.
Experiments with teaching-learning strategies involving new methods and technologies are conducted. Activity-oriented three- dimensional models and laboratory skills for effective teaching- learning of concepts in Science and Mathematics are designed and developed. Steps for nurturance programmes are undertaken. Study guides and challenging problems, developed in various disciplines, are used for conducting nurturance programmes. Diagnostic tests and remedial materials are also developed for weaker students. Other important activates include popularising Science through production of popular reading materials, supplementary books, promotion of out-of- school activities which include Science exhibitions and dissemination of scientific innovations/ concepts through a quarterly journal School Science.
In pursuance of the National Policy on Education (NPE) 1986, curricula and textbooks were revised/rewritten. Later on feedback on various aspects of curricular and instructional materials in Science was obtained from different sources including students, teachers and user agencies like the Central Board of Secondary Education (CBSE), Directorates of Education, etc. An analysis on feedback was undertaken with a view to identify the strengths and weaknesses of the existing materials. It was felt that identified curricula should have enough flexibility to take care of aspects such as (i) familiarity with the natural world, (ii) understanding of the basic concepts and principles of Science, (iii) appreciation of interdependence of Science, Technology and Society, and (iv) inculcating certain values and habits to enable the students to lead a meaningful life.
A draft of the revised Science syllabus for theory and laboratory work at the secondary stage was developed during 1996-97. Efforts have been made to maintain a balance between theoretical and applied aspects while identifying the content for Classes IX and X. Accordingly, the content for Class IX has been arranged in nine units and that of Class X in eight units. Steps to develop Science textbooks for Class IX were initiated.
Like the Science textbooks, textbooks in Mathematics for the school education stage have been in use for the last 8-9 years. A lot of feedback from the users (students, teachers, etc.) was received. Syllabi of different states/UTs were also analysed. Information on status of Mathematics curricula of some developed countries was also collected through internet and libraries. Based on the analysis and findings, draft syllabi in Mathematics at secondary and senior secondary stages were reviewed by the teachers and subject experts. The major deviation from the present curriculum at the secondary stage is that substantial part of the Commercial Mathematics has been included in the proposed syllabus. The elementary concept of probability is to be brought in Class X. In the draft Mathematics syllabus for the senior secondary stage, core and optional concepts have been proposed.
The project 'Identification of Minimum Levels of Learning and Development of Curriculum Guide at Upper Primary Level' was executed
in two phases. In the first phase, the existing syllabus was analysed in order to identify difficult concepts from the point of view of teachers and students (Classes VII, VIII and IX). For this purpose, a questionnaire was administered in 27 schools including Demonstration Multipurpose Schools, KVS Schools, Government Schools and Public Schools. The content analysis provided a list of difficult concepts in the present syllabus which needs immediate attention. In the second phase, broad outlines of topics have been identified which will form basis for MLLs at the upper primary level.
In order to facilitate the children to comprehend certain abstract concepts, it is desirable that these are brought out to concrete operational level where the children could check and verify the validity of concepts through activities. Keeping this in view, a number of activities at upper primary, secondary and senior secondary levels were identified from the existing syllabi in Mathematics. Several charts and three-dimensional models were developed. Besides these, about 100 worksheets with examples have also been developed on various topics using calculators/computers.
Under the project 'Development of Diagnostic Tests and Remedial Materials on Basic Topics of Algebra for Weaker Students of Middle Stage and to Study the Effectiveness of the Remedial Instructional Materials', an achievement test on topics of algebraic expression was administered to the students of Class VI in five schools in Delhi. Their scores were analysed to identify sub-concepts in which students were lacking. Remedial material was developed and reviewed by subject teachers. Another parallel achievement test was prepared and administered to the students. The scores collected are being analysed.
In order to facilitate the acquisition of cognitive knowledge and manipulative skills the students are supposed to work in laboratory to undertake experiments. Material on laboratory skills in Chemistry at the senior secondary stage was prepared.
Thirty experiments in the formal level topics of physical chemistry (chemical equilibrium, electrochemistry, chemical energetics, chemical kinetics and rodex reactions) were developed and tried out to evaluate their effectiveness.
Recent studies carried out by the NCERT show that two important practical skills, namely (i) planning and design and (ii) application are not being adequately developed by the Physics practical curriculum, presently prescribed by the Board. Therefore, a new Physics practical curriculum based on the recent advances in the field of cognitive Science was designed and developed during the year 1996- 97. It consists of an instructional approach, exemplar exercises for a laboratory course-work and a new framework for assessment of practical work in Physics.
* A model nurturance programme in Physics for students of Classes XI and XII has been undertaken. The outline of the model and several theoretical and experimental study guides along with pretest and post- test related to Class XI curriculum have been developed.
* Challenging problems in Chemistry for Class XI were tried out on a few talented students in a few selected Kendriya Vidyalayas of Delhi. On the basis of the feedback received from the students, the difficulty level of the problems was assessed. The challenging problems for Class XII were also developed which will be tried out in schools.
* More than 100 challenging problems in Mathematics for senior second- ary stage have been developed and suitably modified in a workshop.
Under the project 'Reading to Learn', which aims at making Science books available to children in these important areas of Science and Mathematics that are normally not covered by curriculum but are emerging contemporary areas of Science, the following two books were brought out during 1996-97.
1. Pracheen Bharatiya Ganit Ki Aitihasik Awam Sanskritik Jhalkian
2. Madhyakalin Bharatiya Ganit Ki Aitihasik Awam Sanskritik Jhalkian
Manuscripts of (i) Solar Energy (Saur Urja), (ii) Hamara Akash Maila Kyon?, (iii) Marusthal Jeevan Awam Vigyan were also prepared, The development of materials on other titles such, as Remote Sensing, Carbon-60, Communications, Multi-media, Seismology and Earthquake, Geophysical Propsecting, Finger Prints, Hargovinda Khurana and Genes, and Dr Saha and his Formula is in progress. Under the 'Reading to Learn' project, more than 25 books have been developed and brought out as priced publications.
In the second project entitled 'Some Interesting Topics in Chemistry: Development of Modules', three modules were developed in earlier years. During 1996-97, a module on 'Heavy Metal Pollution' was developed and disseminated.
On the occasion of celebrations of the National Science Day on 28 February 1997, the following programmes were organised:
* An open House for school children in which children from Delhi schools were invited to participate The children who attended this programme had an interesting time watching innovative experiments in Chemistry, Physics and Biology laboratories of the Department of Education in Science and Mathematics, NCERT.
* Lectures on Wonders of New Biology under the theme 'India of My Dream' was delivered by an eminent scientist Professor G. P. Talwar. Another lecture on 'Primary Mathematics' was delivered by Shri L. C. Reddy from Tamil Nadu.
This quarterly journal provides a forum to the teachers, researchers and students to disseminate their perceptions, experiences and innovations concerning various aspects of science and Mathematics education. It also covers a wide variety of materials relating to recent developments in the field of Science and Mathematics, content enrichment and teaching-learning of Science and Mathematics. An Editorial Advisory Board comprising eminent scientists provide guidelines for overall improvement of the journal. The Board meets once in a year to review the progress of the journal besides recommending steps for further improvement of the journal. During 1996-97, not only the backlog was cleared but the publication of the journal was made up-to-date.
The national science exhibitions are organised with the objectives of : (i) exposing and encouraging scientific talent in the children, (ii) making children realise the relevance of science to society, as well as their responsibilities as scientists of tomorrow, (iii) developing creative thinking habit of exploration and promoting manipulative skills among children through self-developed models or simple apparatus, (iv) stimulating interest in science and inculcating scientific spirit in the younger generation, (v) encouraging the poroblemsolving approach and the development of appropriate technology specially for rural areas and integrating scientific ideas related to daily life situations, (vi) inculcating aesthetic sense and team spirit among the participants, (vii) popularising science among the masses and creating an awareness of the role of Science in socioeconomic growth of the country, and (viii) developing appropriate techniques for communication of Science.
One of the Major Science popularisation programmes is the organisation of state level Science exhibitions for children. During 199697, exhibitions were organised in 28 states/UTs and in the KVS, schools.The NCERT provided grants-in-aid amounting to Rs 12.50 lakh for the organisation of these exhibitions.
The state level Science exhibitions are a culmination of zonal, district and regional level Science exhibitions in a state/UT. The central theme for the state level Science exhibition for Children 1996-97 was 'Science and Technology for Quality of Life'. The NCERT provided the guidelines for preparing the models around the central theme and the sub-themes.
The 23rd Jawaharlal Nehru National Science Exhibition for children was organised at Bhubaneswar from 13 to 19 January 1997 in collaboration with the Government of Orissa. The main theme of the exhibition was 'Science and Low Cost Technology for Development'. The exhibits were grouped under six sub-themes, viz. Food, Health and Nutrition, Energy, Environment, Industry, Transport and Communication, and Educational Technology. The exhibits from different parts of the country were displayed by both rural and urban areas. Other governmental and nongovernmental agencies, besides NCERT, put up their stalls. Informative material was brought out for free distribution to the participating students, teachers and visitors including (i) Folders (English/Hindi/Oriya) highlighting the salient features of the exhibition including the aims and objectives of holding Science exhibitions in popularising Science, (ii) List of Exhibits (English/Hindi), and (iii) Structure and Working of Science Models, describing the highlights of some of the models.
Environmental concerns emerging from the growing environmental problems are fast becoming educational concerns and necessitate reorientation and strengthening of environmental component in the curricula and other educational activities. This requires continuous training and retraining of the educational functionaries.
As part of capacity-building among the educational functionaries, Environmental Education training for the curriculum
developers has been an on-going exercise in the NCERT for the last three years. The target group identified for the training is the curriculum developers from secondary/senior secondary school education Boards of states and NGOs. It is being enlarged to cover SCERTs and other institutions.
The training content aims at: (i) familiarising the participants with the recent developments in the area of Environmental Education, (ii) strategies for incorporation of environmental components in the curriculum, (iii) exposure to enlarged role and expectations of Environmental Education, and (iv) procedures and guidelines for curriculum development including evaluation with environmental dimensions.
Environmental Education is an integral component of school curriculum. The environmental, social and economic concerns, particularly related to development, are getting increased focus in school level curricula and educational activities. With growing environmental problems and serious environment and development issues, large number of organisations, both government and nongovernmental, are engaged in Environmental Education activities involving school system. There is a need to channelise these efforts for better interaction and exchange through networking. A National Resource Centre for Environment Education (NRCEE) was set up in the Department of Education in Science and Mathematics (DESM), NIE, NCERT during 1996-97 to promote moire intense interaction among the school system, educational planners, curriculum developers and teacher-trainers on the one hand and specialised institutions on the other. The Centre aims at collection of Environmental Education information and materials, classification and dissemination to various institutions involved in school education and specialised activities on environment. The Centre is also developing Environmental Education Data Bank on various aspects of environmental education.
The RIE, Ajmer developed content enrichment packages on (i) selected topics in Mathematics (for Rajasthan), (ii) Chemistry (for Rajasthan), (iii) Physics (for Rajasthan), and (iv) Biology (for Himachal Pradesh). A training package on specific units in Mathematics and Chemistry at the plus-two level (for Haryana) was developed and KRPs from the state were oriented. A training package on specific units in Physics was also developed as per the syllabus of Haryana State.
The RIE, Bhopal developed diagnostic test material to identify learning gaps in Science and Mathematics at the secondary level.
The RIE, Bhubaneswar developed a training package for teaching Mathematics and tried it out. A package was developed to teach Science through interesting and inspiring experiments. A critical analysis of common errors in Mathematics committed by students at Class X Board's examination was completed. The common errors committed by pupils in Physics, Chemistry, Biology and Mathematics at the senior secondary stage conducted by CHSE, Orissa were identified, mapped and categorised. Based on the findings, drafting of remedial materials has been planned.
The RIE, Mysore conducted a 21-day Refresher Course for secondary level teachers in Mathematics, Physics, Chemistry and Biology. Training materials were specially developed for these teachers with a view to giving them additional content inputs, teaching-learning strategies and evaluation practices. The participants were given extensive laboratory-oriented training to upgrade their abilities and skills.