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Nature Walks: A Curious Journey of Observation, Questioning & Developing Scientific Intuition

In the heart of the bustling city of Chennai, amidst the chaos and commotion of urban life, there exists a remarkable oasis of nature appreciation. Meet our young explorers, a group of our Elementary kids who have embarked on an extraordinary mission to uncover the wonders of their urban ecosystem through a series of enriching nature walks.

Our Exploring Science sessions are not confined to textbooks and lectures; instead, they are all about the pure joy of discovery. Nature walks have seamlessly woven themselves into this unique learning journey, providing these young learners with a hands-on, immersive experience of the world around them.

Venturing into their own neighborhood, the children eagerly pick leaves, flowers, stones, and even bugs. But these walks are about much more than collecting specimens; they are about fostering a deep connection with the local biodiversity. As the kids explore and ask their curious questions, they are on a path to becoming budding naturalists, driven by the pure thrill of exploration.

One memorable adventure for these young adventurers involved collecting leaves from various trees. To their surprise, not all leaves fit neatly into their notebooks. But instead of brushing off the discrepancy, they embraced it. They meticulously observed and drew the leaves, reflecting on their findings in their activity sheets, which were adorned with thought-provoking journal prompts. This activity wasn't about overwhelming them with scientific jargon; it was about nurturing their intuitive curiosity.

The streets and parks near Sunnyside are a treasure trove of botanical wonders. Here, they find flora like the false bird of paradise, nerium, milkweeds, bougainvillea, periwinkles, and white frangipani. These young explorers are always brimming with excitement during their nature walk classes. They eagerly collect flowers and leaves of various shapes and colors. To capture their experiences, they maintain a nature journal where they document their discoveries and write down their cherished memories.

What truly sets these young adventurers apart is their keen observation of the creatures that inhabit the plants in their neighborhood. Surprisingly, they share their knowledge of the medicinal uses of various plants and even gather dandelions while discussing the intricacies of pollen grains. These kids embody the essence of learning through innocence, curiosity, and wonder.

Above all, for Sunnysiders, nature walks are not merely a form of learning; they are a means of experiencing the world with open eyes and open hearts. These young explorers are not just collecting leaves and flowers; they are collecting memories, knowledge, and a lifelong appreciation for the beauty that surrounds us. As we reflect on their journey, we are reminded that science begins with strong intuition and relies on two essential elements: the keen observation of our surroundings and the inquisitive act of asking questions. By being curious and seeking answers, we pave the way for scientific progress, knowledge, and innovation.

In closing, let's reflect on an essential question:

Why is it that we often prioritise reading textbooks behind a desk over the invaluable experiences of nature walks and hands-on learning? What do you think will add more value to a child – the confinement of a classroom or the wide-open world of exploration and wonder?

A special thanks to Vena Kapoor from NCF's Nature Classrooms and Sharan from ROAR (Rhopalocera and Odonata Association of Rajapalayam) for curating and sharing all the wonderful learning resources.


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