Design Feature > Toys from Trash
The toys of my childhood were often assembled with things lying around – newspaper for boats, pebbles for pittoo, chalk for hopscotch, walls for four corners, trees to climb, paper for kites, twigs and rubber bands for slingshots. Toys today are store bought, often hi-tech, tagged according to age group and pre-created.
When Rajiv Majumdar shared these videos of Toys made from Trash, it felt like I’d stumbled upon a treasure. They are the collective effort of Dr. Vidula Mhaiskar, Ashok Rupner, Shivaji Mane and Arvind Gupta who want to make science fun for children by designing low-cost teaching aids. The team works in the Children’s Science Centre, incubated by the Inter-University Centre for Astronomy and Astrophysics, Pune. Their website features 1100 short films in 13 languages, around 3500 books on Education, Science, Environment and Children’s Books, all available to download for free. Here are a few of the films.
In conversation with Arvind Gupta.
Indian By Design: How and when did the Children’s Science Centre start out?
Arvind Gupta: The Centre was a dream of Prof. Jayant Narlikar – Padma Vibhushan and our country’s most celebrated Astrophysicist. His friend Pu La Deshpande gave an inital grant for the building which was inaugurated in 2004. The centre is partly funded by the Tata Trust.
Indian By Design: How does the team go about designing the toys?
Arvind Gupta: We do workshops with school children. We get a lot of ideas from them. We also have a lot of creative people dropping in sharing their ideas. We get many ideas from local materials, books and the internet.
Indian By Design: How do children react to the idea?
Arvind Gupta: Twice a week, Tuesdays and Thursdays, we have 3 hours hands-on workshops with 50 children from a particular school. Children see a lot of stuff but they also make 8-10 simple science models – an electric motor, a cricket cap, a pump which they take back. We often get ideas from the children. They do things their own way and there is so much to learn from them.
Indian By Design: Do you hold workshops with parents as well?
Arvind Gupta: We do workshops with a lot of teachers and would be teachers (BEd and DEd students). We rarely get a chance to conduct workshops with parents.
Indian By Design: Do you feel that the kind of toys available in the market today create a distance between children and the process of discovery and inventing?
Arvind Gupta: Today’s motto is instant gratification. If you make a model with your own hands it is perhaps the best toy on earth. Because you have made it you have much deeper insights into it.
Indian By Design: The street children who sell toys at traffic signals, those toys are made with found materials and work on simple scientific principles as well, do they form part of the experimentation, do you include a lot of those toys in your documentation as well?
Arvind Gupta: Unfortunately very few children on traffic signals sell hand-made toys today. They sell cheap Chinese toys. It works better for them that way. They make more money without dirtying thier own hands. They become traders not makers.
Indian By Design: Is the centre open to visitors?
Arvind Gupta: Yes. The visitors are welcome to attend one of our workshops with prior intimation. All our workshops are free.
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Tags: Arvind Gupta Toys, Recycled Toys, Toys from Trash