Sanga, the playing chemist

Namrata Bhatt and Vishal Bhatt

Mendha Lekha is a tribal village in Maharashtra. Surrounded by hills and favoured by the rain gods, this thick forest village is blessed by nature. When it rains, several small streams are visible around the village. A majority of the villagers are farmers.

Sanga is a tall, lean youth in his early thirties and a resident of Mendha Lekha. He is the pride as well as an inspiration for the villagers. Inquisitive about almost everything on earth, Sanga was hard to convince and always had a learning-through-sharing attitude. Villagers held him in high esteem and used to enjoy his talks, experiments and analogies. Starting from gravity and pressure to speed and inertia, the villagers learnt many theories about nature from him.

One day Sanga realized that in the rock salt used in the kitchen, the component of rock was in some way connected with the component of salt. Then he realized that the plough used for farming and the soil had common ingredients. He experimented further, worked on this for five years before he arrived at a table of basic substances (what we call the periodic table). It was time to share this table with the rest of the villagers.

This time the villagers found it hard to appreciate Sanga’s effort. Sanga tried a variety of things – he explained, told stories, gave pictorial representations, but the villagers could neither visualize nor relate to it. He went back and wondered how he could associate images to the things that are hard to see with naked eyes. He came up with the idea of different games which would be engaging for the players while still enabling them to make visual connections.

Sanga called the villagers, divided them into four groups, explained the rules and people started the games with a “what is all this” look on their face.

He then moved like a video camera from one group to another and this is what he observed.

The authors are part of an alternate school in Bengaluru called Aarohi (see aarohilife.org). Aarohi is an initiative of Geniekids (geniekids.com) which conducts training for parents, teachers and does curriculum development. They can be reached at namrata10bhatt@gmail.com and vishalbhatt26@gmail.com.

This is an article for subscribers only. You may request the complete article by writing to us at editorial@teacherplus.org.