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Pune, India

Instead of using books to teach children about the way in which the universe works, the Children’s Science Centre in Pune, India does so by enabling children to observe how things work in a natural setting. The Children’s Science Centre, which is part of the Inter-University Centre for Astronomy and Astrophysics (IUCAA), particularly focuses on studying the natural sciences through practical examples: instead of focusing on theory while sitting in school, the children get to marvel at the wonders of nature.

However, as observing nature is not enough to understand why things happen, the children get involved and come to understand the laws of nature in a playful manner. Moreover, as many of the children come from poor families, the centre tends to use simple materials. For example: in order to test the laws of geometry, the centre needs nothing more than a small piece of paper. In addition, things that have already been discarded can be used to make toys. Arvin Gupta, an Indian scientist and a toy inventor who runs many of the centre’s workshops, has published guides on the internet on how to make these toys (see: http://www.arvindguptatoys.com/toys.html). A demonstration of some them can be found at: http://www.ted.com/talks/arvind_gupta_turning_trash_into_toys_for_learning/.

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