My cousin Jayakrishnan (JK) has been working hard to set up a ‘Tinkering lab’ in a school in our village; the one where he did his early education. Our village – Ezhikkara – is a tiny strip of land about 40 minutes away from the hustle and bustle of its big city neighbour – Kochi.
The school, a government run lower primary school (GLPS, Ezhikkara) has seen a lot of history in its hundred plus years of existence. In 1982, the school made history by becoming one of the first election booths to deploy Electronic Voting Machines (EVMs) as part of the North Parur Assembly elections, when EVMs where tried for the first time in the country.
This is the school where my grand mother, her children and their children studied. JK is setting up this lab as part of giving back to the community, and everyone involved has been enthusiastically working to make this dream a reality. For JK this lab is also a dedication to his mother (my aunt), late A.Radha who was a student here in the 1940s.
It is indeed heartening to see the effort and dedication that the teachers and administrators of this government run school have put in to get the lab functioning. Lego building blocks, Playskool Puzzles, Mechanical and Electronic tools, 3D printing, working models to learn basic science, engineering and geography concepts, detachable organ anatomy model, Arduino nano computer/electronic kits, Robotic hands/vehicles, Amazon Alexa based virtual teacher, tablet/story based concept learning, MIT App Inventor based rapid mobile app building (block programming) to develop logical thinking are key features of the lab.
A few weeks back, Dejan Milojicic – Distinguished Technologist – HP Labs, IEEE Fellow and Global Technology Leader visited the lab and interacted with teachers and students. The lab is set to get inaugurated on November 14, 2019. We’re setting up a simple wordpress site for the school here: http://glps-ezhikkara.in/ (Work in progress).
Ezhikkara, Pokkali (rice) fields and experiential holidays
Ezhikkara has been gaining prominence in the responsible tourism circuit, thanks to organizations like ‘The Blue Yonder‘. The farmers of Ezhikkara, a bank and The Blue Yonder came together recently to revive the farming of Pokkali, a rice that grows well in the area. This article that appeared in ‘The Hindu’ has more details: https://www.thehindu.com/life-and-style/pokkali-rice-farming-in-ezhikkara-is-reviving-a-tradition-and-providing-means-of-livelihood/article24216940.ece
The Blue Yonder also played a key role in the revival of the iconic Chendamangalam handloom cluster in Ernakulam after they incurred huge damages in the 2018 floods that submerged Kerala. It was Lakshmi Menon of Pure Living and Gopinath Parayil of The Blue Yonder who created Chekutty (short for Chendamangalam Kutty) as a symbol of hope and resilience. The simple dolls were crafted from the damaged textiles, and were sold all over the world. The contributions received went to the Chendamangalam Handloom Weavers’ Cooperative society for rescue operations in the Chendamangalam area. You can get your own Chekutty by going here: https://chekutty.in/product/chekutty/
Leaving you with some images of my village Ezhikkara that I’d clicked on one of my visits. View more images from one of my earlier posts.