Development of scientific temper amongst children is critical to the development of leadership skill in them. This also plays a very significant role in refining the thought process of children. CARE India with support from ORACLE established a Teachers Resource Laboratory (TRL) in Bahraich district, Uttar Pradesh. TRL is essentially an institution which equips teachers to carry-out experiment-based teaching of Science and Mathematics towards inculcating scientific temper among girls through a mentoring programme.

The aim of the mentoring programme is to develop a conceptual understanding with support from the resources available in TRL, engage in reflective teaching pedagogy and connect science with daily life. Teachers in TRL essentially work as mentors and teaching is conducted through modeling. Here girls get the opportunity to share their doubts without any hesitation and satisfy their curiosity through think-pair-share methods for a sustained period with mentors. Demonstration of simple experiments on basic topics such as air, water, simple machines, magnetism, and force etc. are also an integral part of mentoring. TRL offers a learning platform for girls who learn to perform these simple experiments on their own. Gradually girls begin to get exposure to Science and Mathematics and conduct many experiments to make their understanding better. The real experience they gain through experiments becomes a learning experience for them. The focus remains on conceptual understanding in a local context and its application. The mentors’ focus in all TRLs is more on ‘How to Learn’ rather than ‘What to Learn’.

Girls also perform various activities with the help of available resources which helps them in gradually developing the understanding of the subject. The medium of story and art are also used for developing an interest in children. Hands-on science activities provide girls with the opportunity to engage multiple senses at one time. They draw and write what they see, think, feel, and touch. Based on these experiences, girls compose stories and poems related to science and Maths e.g. stories and poems on magnetism, force etc. These poems and stories develop their creative expression, explorative nature and give them an opportunity to express and discuss important issues and those that extend beyond the classroom into their lives, communities, and the world.

Girls’ curiosity and their instinct to inquire, explore and discover gets further encouragement and support from the mentoring programme which manifests in the improvement of their self-confidence and enhance their analytical skills. Girls are now able to create working and non-working models for district-level Science and Mathematics fair and are confident enough to explain these to community and visitors.

Vandana Mishra