The only Indian Physicist with a Nobel Prize

National Science day is celebrated on February 28th to mark C.V.Raman’s birthday. He is the only Indian physicist with Nobel prize. three indian born scientists – Har Gobind Khorana, Subramanyan Chandrashekjar and Venkatraman Ramakrishnan won Nobel prizes after getting the U.S. Citizenship.

Ram was ingtrigued by the blue colour of the Mediterranean sea and experimented to find out why the sea was blue. His experiments led him to the discovery of what is known as the Raman Effect. He was knighted in 1929 and in 1930 was awarded the N obel prize in Physics.

S-R association and Learning

The learning theory of Thorndike (connectionism) represents the original Stimulus –

Response [S-R] connectionism: Learning is the result of associations formed between stimuli

and responses. Habits are formed as a result of such S-R associations.

What are the educational implications of this theory?

1. The law of exercise emphasizes practice in learning. The educational strategies need

to focus on drill, repetition, review.

2. The law of effect expects that the child is given due motivation and recognition.

Distribute the questions throughout the class. Listen and reinforce the answers.

Encourage peer to peer interaction.

3. The law of readiness emphasizes the need to let the child be ready for the experience.

4.The law of effect which underlies the use of incentives and systems of reward and

punishments has proved to be the most significant contribution to the theory of learning.

To know more about this theory and other theories of learning, read the book From chalk to Talk The Art of Teaching chapter 2.

Experiential learning

Experiential learning is one of the buzz words of the 21st century learning.

Carl Ransom Rogers, an American psychologist, distinguished two types of learning:

cognitive (meaningless) and experiential (significant).

The former corresponds to academic knowledge such as learning concepts, vocabulary or multiplication tables but the latter refers to applied knowledge such as application of the multiplication or division to calculate profit and loss.

How do you apply experiential learning in the classroom?

1. The teacher must work as a facilitator.

2. The teacher must plan the learning experiences, map them to the objectives and learning outcomes.

3. The diversity of learners needs to be kept in perspective to ensure that the self-worth of the students is not harmed.

Learn more about this in the chapter 5 of the book From Chalk to Talk The Art of Teaching

Class management issues?

Are you having issues controlling the class? managing the students? Holding their attention? The answer could be found in chapter 7 of the book From Chalk to Talk The Art of Teaching.
Thomas Gordon, the author of a model of classroom management called Teacher effectiveness training, derived T.E.T. from principles of psychology to shift the responsibility for behaviour from teacher to student.
Gordon’s philosophy: When an individual is troubled by a condition, event, or situation, that individual is said to “own” the problem. In a classroom set up there can be 3 scenarios – teacher owns the problem; Student owns the problem or there is no problem. Find out where you stand.

Mind Map Vs Concept Map

Mind map is a good tool to learn from. Do you know the difference between a mind map and a concept map? Very often they are used synonymously.

Mind map is not a concept map, The ppt explains the characteristics, usefullness and guidelines for making mind maps. Mind map was invented by Tonhy Buzan. He was influenced by the ideas put forward by Joseph Novak’s concept mapping.

Check out this link:

For further reference read Chapter 5 of Chalk to Talk The Art of Teaching to gain absolute content mastery over this concept.

Indian Woman Scientist

Asima Chatterjee was an Indian chemist noted for her work on vinca alkaloids, and the development of anti-epileptic and anti-malarial drugs.

Her doctoral research focused on the chemistry of plant products and synthetic organic chemistry. Additionally she also had research experience from the University of Wisconsin, Madison and Caltech. She was instrumental in developing anti-convulsive, anti-malarial and chemotherapy drugs.

A few additional notable achievements

1. She was the second woman after Janaki Ammal to be conferred Doctorate of Science by an Indian University, the University of Calcutta in 1944.

2. In 1961, she received the Shanti Swarup Bhatnagar Award in chemical science, in the process becoming the first female recipient of this award.

3. In 1975, she was conferred the prestigious Padma Bhushan and became the first lady scientist to be elected as the General President of the Indian Science Congress Association.

4. She was nominated by the President of India as a Member of the Rajya Sabha from February 1982 to May 1990.

Refer to Chapter 5 of From Chalk to Talk The Art of Teaching for more examples

Utilising the Teaching moments

The classroom curtains had become old and the teacher mentioned it to the class. The students decided to take it up as a project to buy new curtains. Teacher did not want to miss out on a teaching moment. Teacher uses the integrated approach to build the curiosity and teach the concepts enumerated below:

The areas one could look at for teaching in Mathematics:

1. The size of the windows and the amount of material to be bought – to be considered for stitching curtains is the length of the material to be bought keeping in perspective the width of the material.

2. For ready-made curtains the length and the width of the windows to be considered.

History and Geography

1. Track the history of ‘charaka’ [spinning wheel] and cottage industries in India.

2. Discuss the principles of Gandhiji and the use of ‘Charaka’ in creating women empowerment and subsidiary employment

3. Which are the countries that produce cotton, linen?

4. What are the climatic / soil conditions required to grow cotton / linen?

5. How does the production of cotton affect the economy of the country?

6. Why are silk curtains expensive?

7. Would animal activists promote the use of silk curtains? Why not?

8. Teacher introduces the concept of sericulture.

9. Teacher narrates the story about the discovery of silk worm by the Chinese empress as an act of serendipity.

10. Where is the silk route located in India? Why is it called the silk route?

11. Plan a visit to a textile factory.


1. Mass production vs production by the masses which would be beneficial for Indian economy. Discussion on Gandhian principles related to the statement.


1. Could colour affect the glare / heat?

2. Could the curtains have lining as insulation?

3. Which material is to be used? – cotton, polyester, linen – which would last longer?

4. Which material would get soiled faster? Why?

5. Which material would be cheaper – cotton or man-made fibres? Why?

6. The amount of sunshine that comes through the window to be a factor for the thickness of the material. – could be also used by the Physics teacher to teach concept of light.


1. Autobiography of the cotton plant.

2. Autobiography of the silk worm.

3. A dialogue between the students and the shop keeper on the shopping transaction.

The teacher used the teaching moment to provide contextual learning to the students. When the teachers present information to the students in such a way that each student can derive meaning from it based on their experiences, it can be referred to as contextual learning. There are many other terms used to describe contextual learning including: Hands on experience; Active learning; Integrated learning; Project based learning; Applied learning.

Contextual learning is based on a constructivist theory of teaching and learning. The constructivist teacher provides techniques such as problem-solving, learning by doing and inquiry-based learning activities. Teacher helps students to test their ideas, draw conclusions and inferences in a collaborative learning environment. Constructivism transforms the student from a passive recipient of information to an active participant in the learning process. This technique is also horizontal correlation leading to holistic learning.


1. Dr. Pramila Kudva, From Chalk to Talk The Art of Teaching, Buuks, 2019

Deal with Stress

The relationship between stress and disease is now well established, but was not always recognised. Hans Selye describes stress as the “nonspecific response of the body to any demand “. It is non-specific because, any number of stressors can produce the same general non-individualised response as a defence. Stress could be a combination of personal, professional / organizational and individual factors.

A few facts about stress:

1. Each individual has an optimal stress level

2. Maintaining high levels of can be harmful

All stress is not bad – Stress can be good or bad

Good stress can lead to glow-up and bad stress leads to burnout.

Consequences of good stress – Eustress

  1. Good concentration
  2. Plenty of energy
  3. Cheerful disposition
  4. Regular attendance
  5. High Achievement

Consequences of bad stress

  1. Poor concentration
  2. Low energy
  3. Not cheerful
  4. Irregular attendance
  5. Low achievement levels

Some amount of stress is necessary e.g. without stress players of football or cricket cannot bring out the best performance.

Reactions to stress

Hans Selye mentions the General adaptation syndrome which has 3 stages

1. Alarm reaction stage – This stage is associated with the flight or fight response.

2. Resistance stage – the individual undergoes chronic hormonal and neurological changes in order to adapt to stress. When the stressor is removed the body returns to normal.

If the resistance stage continues for too long of a period without pauses to offset the effects of stress, this can lead to the exhaustion stage. Signs of the resistance stage include: irritability, frustration, poor concentration

3. Exhaustion stage

This stage is the result of prolonged or chronic stress.. Signs of exhaustion include:

  1. fatigue
  2. burnout
  3. depression
  4. anxiety
  5. decreased stress tolerance

The physical effects of this stage also weaken your immune system and put you at risk for stress-related illnesses.

Coping techniques to reduce stress :

  1. Identify the stressors and try to develop techniques to overcome these stressors. Yoga is a good technique to learn.
  2. Get Social support – friends, relatives
  3. Start Physical activities including jogging, swimming, walking, etc.
  4. Try to get some Intellectual stimulation – attending conferences, seminars, writing / reading professional literature, etc.
  5. Entertainment – going to movies, eating out, etc.
  6. Pursue hobbies unrelated to work
  7. Develop positive outlook
  8. Develop a sense of humour
  9. Become assertive – e.g. Learn to say NO

Finally a point to remember

Tough times never last but Tough people do.

Why is 1729 known as the Ramanujan number?

1729 is the natural number following 1728 and preceding 1730. It is known as the Hardy–Ramanujan number, after an anecdote of the British mathematician G. H. Hardy when he visited Indian mathematician Srinivasa Ramanujan in hospital. He related their conversation:

I remember once going to see him when he was ill at Putney. I had ridden in taxi cab number 1729 and remarked that the number seemed to me rather a dull one, and that I hoped it was not an unfavourable omen. “No,” he replied, “it is a very interesting number; it is the smallest number expressible as the sum of two cubes in two different ways.”

The two different ways are:

1729 = 13 + 123 = 93 + 103

The quotation is sometimes expressed using the term “positive cubes”, since allowing negative perfect cubes (the cube of a negative integer) gives the smallest solution as
91(which is a divisor of 1729):

91 = 63 + (−5)3 = 43 + 33

Numbers that are the smallest number that can be expressed as the sum of two cubes in n distinct ways have been dubbed “taxi cab numbers “. The number was also found in one of Ramanujan’s notebooks dated years before the incident, and was noted by Frenicle de Bessy in 1657. A commemorative plaque now appears at the site of the Hardy-Ramanujan incident, 2 Colinette Road, Putney.

More stories to refer to in the chapter 5.3 from Chalk to Talk The Art of Teaching

Math in Nature

There is Math all around us. Let’s look for Maths in Nature. Use the example of Adolf Zeisiing, a German psychologist, who found the golden ratio expressed in the arrangement of leaves and branches along the stems of plants and of veins in leaves. The number of petals in a flower consistently follows the Golden Ratio. Famous examples include the lily, which has three petals, buttercups, which have five, the chicory’s 21, the daisy’s 34, and so on. Phi appears in petals on account of the ideal packing arrangement as selected by Darwinian processes.

Phyllotaxy (arrangement of leaves on an axis or stem) is connected with the golden ratio because it involves successive leaves or petals being separated by the golden Angle. It also results in the emergence of spirals. It is sometimes stated that nautilus shells get wider in the pattern of a golden spiral, and hence are related to both phi(φ) and the Fibonacci series.

For more information refer to chapter 2 of the book From Chalk to Talk The Art of Teaching.

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