3 posts

Creatively communicative about science & nature.

The moth flutters and swirls,

goes round and round,

but does it make a sound?

For it knows you are asleep.

So when you see a drowsy moth,

What should you do?

Let it snore away.

Inspired by a poem by David L. Harrison

The country celebrated National Moth Week from 17th to 25th July 2021. Elementary school students of government schools of Darbhanga, North Bihar steeped into exploring biodiversity as part of Wipro Earthian 2021, joined the National Moth Week celebrations this year, befriending these fascinating creatures. We hope there entry into the world of moths leads to sustained interest and positive actions on behalf of students and teachers that makes the world a safer and friendlier place for moths.

For 7 days, the team members of Aripana, along with teachers and students, learnt about one new moth by sharing pictures, their unique characteristics and sketching them. We even decided to focus on moths that have been seen particularly in North Bihar, in the year 2021. Below is a collage of some of the sketches by students and teachers, of the moths we learnt about.

A collage of the sketches of moths by students and teachers of government schools of Darbhanga, North Bihar.

This was quite a fun exercise and one that educated us quite a bit. During the process we were acquainted with various Indian platforms on the internet that are dedicated to moths (and other biodiversity) – documenting the names, characteristics, their occurrence, habitat, habits, etc. Two platforms we found to be quite comprehensive were The Moths of India and inaturalist. We also came across some helpful groups on Facebook, dedicated to moths.

It is the citizens, residents and common men and women of the country that have contributed to creating these platforms and the information on it. Through Citizen Science initiatives, individuals concerned and passionate about biodiversity, flora and fauna, contribute information about the natural world around them helping create very precious records of various species, each important in maintaining our ecological balance.

Team Aripana would like to introduce children to Citizen Science initiatives, supporting students and teachers to become creators of knowledge themselves – recording and sharing information about the natural world around them.

Jyoti Roy, Teacher, Heycock Institution, Laheria Serai, Darbhanga was traveling during the NMW week but succeeded in contributing to the week long exercise. “I also tried to draw a moth as I thought it would be the best way to encourage the children to do so along with making them aware of the kinds of moths present in their surroundings. And I anyway love activities related to nature.” We are so happy Jyoti Mam joined in despite her busy schedule, choosing to inspire students by her own actions.

Very soon, we had Nutan Kumari, Teacher, Bansidas Kanya Madhya Vidyalay contributing too. She believes drawing is a critical aspect of studying Biology as the skills required to draw, encourage observation and enhance knowledge of the world around us like no other medium. She not only enjoyed sketching moths but also followed it up with a lovely sketch of a pond ecosystem. “I was inspired to draw moths by the children and I went on to create a visual representation of the Pond Ecosystem as we were anyway teaching students the chapter  पौधों और जंतुओं का संरक्षण : जैव विविधता.”

A picture often conveys what many words do not, don’t you think?

We could not been happier with how the online science classes resulted in so much creativity and that too, on behalf of everyone, be it teachers or students or members of team Aripana. We hope to initiate a sustained project with the students and teachers soon, one that helps them be Citizen Scientists.

Concluding this post with samples of leaf art made by some students – busy as they were – exploring the leaves available in their immediate surroundings and the myriad ways in which they enrich our lives and the world in which we live.

If you are happy and you know it, do biodiversity…

The first part of the title of this blog, are words from a popular toddler’s / children’s song. It encourages children to focus on the emotion of happiness, associating it with simple activities like clapping, jumping, hopping, swirling etc. Example: If you are happy and you know it clap your hands / jump up and down / turn around. I have seen children have great fun moving to this song.

Humming it the other day, having biodiversity topmost on my mind, it wasn’t surprising that this is how the song played out for me, “if you are happy and you know it…do biodiversity” – something we do so little of nowadays! Being amid nature and natural surroundings, becoming mindful of the environment as a shared space we inhabit with several other wondrous creatures of the world has been said to be critical for several reasons – it keeps not only humans in good health but also the planet.

Team Aripana and the students from Mithila, participating in Wipro Earthian 2021, are immensely happy engaging with and exploring the local biodiversity of Mithila. Out of the 30 odd children from Mithila, participating in India’s largest environment education program for schools (Earthian 2021), 8 children from 2 government schools are focusing exclusively on biodiversity.

These 8 children from Laheria Sarai, Darbhanga, have embarked upon a week long exploration of plants, shrubs, insects, animals, birds in their immediate surroundings. One does not have to visit a forest or a picnic spot to appreciate the richness of the natural, living world. It can be done from inside our homes and this activity is aimed to reveal the sheer variety of biodiversity that exists all around them. The aim of this activity is also to make children creators and contributors of knowledge and not remain passive receivers.

The best part about our work are the questions children ask and the conversations we have. As we embark upon our first, intensive activity that will help us understand our environment, see it as a shared space, find out who all we share it with, here are some questions our young explorers posed. They indicate the children are planning, giving thought to execution, thinking of ethics and responsibility, even though they many not be fully aware of these terms, yet!

We cannot wait to share with each other and with you, all that we discovered this week.