The students of grades 9 and 10 of Shree Bhagawati Secondary School in Kaski district displayed extraordinary innovative thinking by creating a functional solar water heater out of discarded waste materials like plastic bottles, hose pipes and plastic covers of instant noodles.

This project was initiated by the Science teacher, Gokul Prasad Sharma who in his words “was bored of his daily teaching routine” before he was nominated to participate in the British Council’s Connecting Classrooms’, Creativity and Imagination core skill training and was asked to conduct an action research. Taking his “boredom” as the problem to base his research on, he decided to do something different and engage his students in a project work based on the principle “Energy can neither be created nor destroyed but it can be transformed from one form to another form”. Simultaneously, he aimed to:

•develop the skills of creativity and imagination in them

•introduce the concept that waste could be managed to create something useful.

•encourage innovative thinking in them.

With the above objectives in mind, he got his students to embark on a project to harness solar power to heat water. 

All he did was tell the students the materials that they’d use - plastic bottles, black polythene hose pipe and discarded packaging of instant noodles to build a solar heater. He didn’t tell them how but encouraged the students to engage in group discussions and brainstorming. The students considered many ideas and tested these before achieving their goal. The students did this by dividing themselves into groups, each with their own set of responsibilities on a deadline of 5 days.

The project was hugely successful and the students are immensely proud of their achievement. Most importantly, the project is a testament to the deeper learning that the core skills training advocates. In Gokul’s words, the students could relate the project with their daily lives where they came across challenges and learnt to overcome these challenges. The students also learnt about project planning and preparing reports.

Engaging the students in project-based learning and having the students complete a project successfully through their own ideas has given Gokul a new leash on his teaching and he is now motivated to try on new projects which he’ll base on the curriculum. He’s also planning to organize a science exhibition to display such projects.

A joint initiative between the British Council and the Foreign, Commonwealth & Development Office (FCDO), the Connecting Classrooms Project is designed to help young people develop the knowledge, skills and values to live and work in a globalised economy, and make a positive contribution locally and globally. The 3-day in-depth training on Creativity & Imagination, under the project’s teacher training strand, introduces to the teachers the pedagogical approaches for encouraging students’ creativity and the role of the teacher in promoting creativity in learning. The training also prepares the teachers to plan for creativity in their school and choosing a focus for their action plan for implementation when they go back to their school.

The completed functional solar water heater