Graduation day … Purvafairmont Waves

So happy to see all parents tuning up to see their kids graduate on a Sunday morning. All the kids did so well thru this session.

This time we used waves as the topic to learn together. We not only talked about the theory behind waves but various applications. Thru the journey we learned about SIN and COS. We also created simulation of a wave in a Python notebook.

As ever, the topic is incidental. The learning process is what makes the impact.

The biggest thing I wanted the kids to learn is appreciate that programming is not about coding. It is about developing a new mindset. It is about learning anything with design, iterations and simulation.

The journey of creating a wave simulator made them appreciate the possibilities of learning thru programming.

wave equation

Most of us would be be so intimidated by the equation above. But, many of them managed to not only understand the intuition behind this, but also simulate it in a Python notebook. In fact, one kid even created a way to demonstrate interference. That’s the power of learning experimentally.

Very happy to hear all the feedback from the parents that children are starting to love this way of learning. Once we create the right environment, children’s desire to learn is unstoppable. Every child is unique. Allowing them to be themselves seems to explode their creativity.

Here is the certificate to reinforce the same message.

Waves Purva Jan 2018 Cert of Appreciation.png

Can’t wait for the summer camp in May.

We are going to create a Rube Goldeberg machine*. So much fun !!

* A Rube Goldberg machine and the world record winning version.

Programing mindset Session 3 – Purvafairmont

We took on an ambitious agenda of laying the foundation for a programming mindset today. Probably the toughest thing I attempted so far, and I would give myself a B for the session.

Will try harder next time.

People often confuse programming for coding. Programming is about design, logic and experimentation. That is what children need to learn, instead of being lost in syntax. In fact programming is not just about making computers work, but developing a new mindset of learning – design, re-usability, failing fast, fixable errors, simulation, logic etc.

(I will write in more detail in a later post, but programming is a very powerful tool for learning many things including Physics, Chemistry, Maths and Social Sciences)

We started the session by asking the kids to design a free single candy dispenser. It doesn’t take money and only dispenses one type of candy. They needed to design the physical mechanism, as well as develop the logic for the machine. This has to be done by using the pre-determined blocks.

Free single candy dispenser

The idea is to develop the underlying algorithmic thinking.

Children were unstoppable with their creativity in designing the dispensers. Leave them alone and they are all so mischievous.

We then used the ‘lego’ blocks to develop the intuition for input, processing, output and conditional blocks.

Here is a summary of the final design we created.

(I had no choice but to incorporate their inputs on the characters in the diagram. So naughty …)


We then took the thinking to the next level asking what changes are needed, if the machine dispenses three types of candies.


See how elegantly we could bring in another control block and =reusable functions. Why don’t we teach programming this way in colleges? Why do we start with endless syntax and abstract examples like Fibonacci series. (Yes, the kids are puking in the example because the first option dispenses Sour Punk candies !!)

Post that we created a simple Jupyter notebook in Microsoft Azure using Python ( I love how intuitive notebooks are to learn programming, as the experiments are immediately visible for one to see. I love Python because it has such a minimalist syntax, with so many possibilities in the future.  We have more work to do for this topic. More exciting sessions coming up.

Over the next 3 weeks children will be building a Wave generator using Jupyter notebooks. Can’t wait …


Waves and sound session 2 – Purvafairmont

Children will always want the fun quotient very high. I think there is a difference between education and learning. If it sounds like education they switch off, if it is learning there is endless energy.

We started with a video clip from Kung Fu Panda … the coolest scene in the movie, the Dragon Scroll scene. Here are a few interesting questions to ponder on. The whole idea is to teach critical thinking and observe the subtle nuances … and express it back.

  1. What is the significance of Shifu using the stick to extract the dragon scroll?
  2. Pos asks “You believe I am ready?” and Shifu answers “You are, Po”. What is so special about that conversation and why?
  3. If the Dragon Scroll is empty, why can’t it be shared with any one. Why not Tai Lung or Tigress?
  4. Why is there a wave shown in the pond when the Dragon Scroll is held and the stick touches the pond?
  5. As the rabbits and pigs escape with all their valuables, some pigs are seen taking something very odd. Can you spot it?
  6. Po’s dress changes in the scene. When and why?


We had so much fun breaking out in groups and talking about these questions. As ever, amazed by how perceptive children can be, when they are ‘learning and not being educated’.

Revisited the concepts of waves. Think we have the intuition for amplitude, wavelength, frequency, velocity and energy of waves.

Experiments to generate oscillations. Some with hands. Others with fingers. One with his head. The highest was 8 Hz. Head shake.

Then we drew out what 10 the power of 24 is.


Imagine frequency of that magnitude. That’s Gamma rays.


Source: Khan Academy



We then generated sound at different frequencies using the Physics tool kit app. And all the animals we can beat and the ones that beat us.


Source: University of Calgary

We are making sound and waves real !!


Waves and Sound session 1 – Purvafairmont


We kicked off the session on waves and sound in Purvafairmont today.

Started with a movie on creating sound effects. Foley teams. Wonder why they need to create sounds for rain, horses and walking in snow. Interesting thing to debate with a child.

Here is the video on Making of Sound. We then had each child collect interesting items and create new sounds with those.

Amazing creativity and imagination. Foley would be proud !!

Making of sound

We followed that up with a Mexican wave and some general discussion on waves.


Through the debate it became clear that the wave here is just a disturbance that is travelling … while the medium (kids) just vibrate in the same place.

The energy is transmitted as a wave. Nothing physical is actually travelling here.

We talked about all kinds of waves. Waves in oceans, with sound. Even Gravitational waves !! We awarded a Nobel prize to each other for demonstrating space time fabric with a carpet and a ball. LIGO team would squirm !!!

Electromagnetic wave

(Source Khan Academy)


As usual, we also made a lot of sound.


We explored the behaviour of waves with a very interesting simulation from PHET University of Colorado Boulder. Try and predict the behaviour of waves for the three scenarios – closed end, moving end and endless.

This fantastic simulation develops the intuition for interference in waves. Also bring alive the concepts of frequency, amplitude, velocity, tension, damping and the medium. Wish we were taught like this in school.


The reward of exploring all of this was to play with a tuning fork and touch the tip of your nose with it. Some kids licked the tuning forks.


Can’t wait for next sunday.


Purvafairmont Jan 2018

Super excited about the new program coming up in Purva. Hope to build on the learning from last time, and make this one better.

Key facts about the program:

  • 6 sessions from January 28th – March 4th
  • Sunday 9:00 – 10:30 AM
  • For children ~10-14 years / classes 5-8
  • The sessions will be in the Purvafairmont Clubhouse
  • Fees Rs. 1,000 per child
  • For questions see or email me at

If you want to register, please fill this form.

Over 6 weeks, children will EXPLORE, EXPERIMENT, EXPERIENCE and EXPRESS though this journey of learning.

The explicit topic will be ‘Sound and Waves‘.

The inputs will be tuning forks, plates for banging, programming in Python, white-boarding, cool videos and lots of discussions.

But, all those are excuses to learn to learn.

Here are three aspects of how children will spend their time in the 6 weeks. (This is not CBSE, so we may not exactly adhere to an order and will go with the flow !!)

  1. Learn to Learn (EXPLORE) … discussion on learning concepts such as Growth vs Talent Mindset and Deliberate Practice. Experiments and problems around Waves, Sound. Play around with programming in Python to simulate ideas
  2. Creation. Build a Project (EXPLORE, EXPERIMENT and EXPERIENCE) … teams of 2-3 will build a ‘sound wave analyser’. In the process appreciating the application of physics, challenges of coming up with original ideas, facing the obstacles of building / tinkering with real things and above all working as a team
  3. Critically Analyse and Synthesise (EXPLORE and EXPRESS) … we will watch small movie clips, critically analyse the layers/nuances (camera angles, sound, expressions, story telling etc.) and articulate those ideas. Kids love this

Please see the following links to understand more about StableBow and the program.

Some FAQs

  1. Will children need to spend money to build the project? No. I intend to have a budget limit of may be Rs. 500-700. This is about creativity and tinkering
  2. Will all children do the same project? The topic is the same. Build a sound wave analyser. But each of them will be required to come up a creative way to build one
  3. Can you do it at another time? No, not for now. We will need to stick with the Sunday morning plan
  4. My child cannot attend the sessions but wants to do the project. Can we do that? Suggest not to. Think most of the value is in the discussions and collaboration
  5. Will it only be about Physics and Programming? This project is about design, collaboration, planning and communication in addition to the core concepts of physics and programming. I love movies, physics and programming. So I am marrying all three !!
  6. My child doesn’t know Python programming? No issues. They can learn what’s necessary along the way
  7. Will you share the necessary links and material? Yes, will create a whatsapp group and share in that. Will also train the children on using the online WIKISPACE platform for learning and Python programming as necessary