Now, children can learn science lessons in ‘Tholkappiyam’ with Ekalaivan Tamil

What is the best way to teach a child the science behind the water cycle? Go to your kitchen and set some water to boil. There, in front of their eyes, they come to terms with evaporation, condensation… And to teach them about famines and how our plants dry up, why not employ a Tenali Raman story? There are many ways to make science fun for children. This is what these four friends hope to achieve through Ekalaivan Tamil, an e-learning platform.

“How many children are able to connect textbook science to the real world?” asks Rubini Mahalingam LN, who is a geospatial researcher in Brighton, UK. She remembers talking about it with her friend Rajchandar Padmanaban, a geospatial information scientist in Lisbon, Portugal. As experts themselves, they decided to come up with a platform that simplified concepts for children and presented them in relatable ways through real-world examples and stories from Indian mythology, folklore, and Tamil literature.

They launched Ekalaivan Tamil seven months ago, along with Tuticorin-based storyteller Dharani Ravichandran and software engineer V Saravana Amuthu from Madurai, and have been holding sessions online for children around the globe. “I interact with children to understand what their interests are. I then work around connecting stories and science with the team,” explains Rubini, who has a one-and-a-half-year-old son.

(Clockwise) Rubini Mahalingam LN, Dharani Ravichandran, V Saravana Amuthu and Rajchandar Padmanaban

(Clockwise) Rubini Mahalingam LN, Dharani Ravichandran, V Saravana Amuthu and Rajchandar Padmanaban

She feels that over the years, children have developed a certain disconnect with what they learn from science books and the real world — perhaps, due to our education system or other issues. “We wanted to fix this,” explains the 33-year-old. “For if we do not, this will only continue with the following generations.”

Rubini, who has her roots in Madurai, says that their sessions are held in Tamil, since the team feels that “learning in our mother-tongue will establish the connection better and will make sure that the concepts are deep-rooted”. While she and Rajchandar ideate sessions, Dharani pitches in with her expertise in narrating interesting stories from Tamil texts such as Tholkappiyam and Silappathikaram . Saravana helps in managing the website and also offers career guidance to students.

The team has been posed with some interesting questions by their young audience. “Once, when we were explaining evaporation and how water from every surface, including leaves, vaporises when in contact with the sun, a boy popped the question, ‘What about us, then? Our bodies have water too, don’t they?’.” She laughs adding how Rajchandar was quick to respond that this is what happens to us too when we are out in the sun for long: our bodies get dehydrated.

They also have Science Mashups at the end of the week, during which students discuss what they learned over the week with each other. “It once ended up in a huge argument over some concept and who got it right,” she laughs. But then, they knew they were getting something right.

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Printable version | May 16, 2022 7:22:37 am |