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Sunday, March 26, 2017

Brahmi the plant with great medicinal value

Brahmi or Bacopa monnieri as it is called botanically, is a perennial creeping herb. It is native to eastern and southern India. It is also found in Australia, Europe, Africa, North and South America.

In Sanskrit it is known as Mandookparni because it's leaves resemble to  paws of frogs.It is also called as Saraswati, the Goddess of wisdom.

Brahmi is a powerful herb which helps in maintaining memory, in increasing mental alertness and in combating stress.In Jharkhand it is locally known as Beng Sag in tribal community. Beng means frog.
Inhabitants in this state eat beng sag after collecting from the wild.They also sell it in market places

Brahmi is used not alone as a memory booster, rather it is used extensively for correcting digestion, purifying blood and curing skin diseases.It is also used for preparing different dishes, chatnis , drink and vegetables.It is also dried and stored for future purposes.

Brahmi is used for correcting functions of digestive system, for curing skin diseases and for controlling blood pressure and for curing jaundice.

Brahmi grows on wet places- along river banks, streams, low fields etc. especially in rainy season. But it can grow round the year in moist and wet places. It grows and spreads on the ground surface. The stem has internodes from where adventitious roots and leaves emerge out.

Key Words: Brahmi, memory booster, blood purifier

Wednesday, January 13, 2016

Diabetic and other potentials of Fenugreek

Fenugreek is a plant which has long been used for various medicinal purposes. Across the Middle East it is in use as a spice and herbal remedy.

Seeds of fenugreek are sown by farmers who harvest the crop and bring out seeds. Green grocers pull up the whole plants make their bundles and bring to sell in the market. As leafy vegetable foliage of fenugreek is cooked with potato slices and some other vegetable as per the required taste after which it is and is served in plates.
Methi ki pattiyan( leaves of Fenugreek)
Leaves of fenugreek 

Seeds of fenugreek are roasted for food flavoring and medicinal purposes. The medicinal properties and favourable effects of the seeds of fenugreek are due to a number of ingredients that are contained inside different parts of the plant. Some of the ingredients of the plant have astonishing properties like reduction of blood plasma glucose level and reduction of cholesterol.
Seeds of methi with immense medicinal values
Seeds of fenugreek
Benefits in lowering blood plasma sugar levels
It is reported that the Saponins found in fenugreek may decrease the absorption of glucose in the intestine. Some other components like Trigonelline, nicotinic acid, and Coumarin compounds also help in reducing blood plasma glucose levels. It is reported that the compound Trigonelline, provides nicotinic acid and Coumarin components too are concerned with reducing blood plasma glucose level. Studies conducted on animals reveal that the amino acid 4-hydroxyisoleucine causes an increase in the insulin secretion.
Benefits from the fibre contained in fenugreek
It is also reported by researchers that fenugreek contains Galactomannan fibres. These fibres may decrease glucose absorption from the gastro-intestinal tract. The South Asian Journal of Preventive Cardiology (April-June) 2005 issue reported that inclusion of the fenugreek fibre in the diet improved glucose tolerance in the patients suffering from diabetes.

Diabetes and Fiber

Galactomannan fiber is another fenugreek component that may decrease glucose absorption from the gastrointestinal tract. A study published in the April–June 2005 issue of the South Asian Journal of Preventive Cardiology noted that including fiber in the diet improves glucose tolerance in diabetic patients. Intake of Galactomannan fiber can decrease rise in blood sugar after meals and also decrease the amount of medication required. The gum type fibre in fenugreek seeds is most effective in reducing the level of blood plasma glucose.

Cholesterol lowering potential

Fenugreek has cholesterol lowering and lipids lowering potential. The Galactomannan fibre and Saponins may decrease the absorption of cholesterol and lipids in the digestive tract. Research on animals shows that fenugreek has protects the liver damage and repairs it if it has been caused by the intake of alcohol. It is also reported that fenugreek has anti-cancer, antimicrobial, and anti-parasite activities.

Sunday, January 10, 2016

Purpose of experimentation in schools

Most practitioners would agree that good quality practical work can engage students, help them to develop important skills, help them to understand the process of scientific investigation, and develop their understanding of concepts. A further consequence of experiencing practical work, particularly in chemistry, is the acquisition of an understanding of hazard, risk and safe working. These are just some of the many different reasons for choosing to use a practical activity in a lesson.
The Framework for practical Environmental Studies in schools also identifies a multitude of ways in which practical work can support learning in this subject, from ‘Personal, learning and thinking skills’ to ‘How the Environmental Studies work’. Any single activity might focus on one or more of these purposes.
A good practical task is one that achieves its aims of effectively communicating a clearly defined set of ideas, but this can sometimes be difficult to achieve. Teachers’ identified outcomes can often be quite different from the outcomes that students perceive.
Hands-on, brains-on
Really effective practical activities enable students to build a bridge between what they can see and handle (hands-on) and scientific ideas that account for their observations (brains-on). Making these connections is challenging, so practical activities that make these links explicit are more likely to be successful (Millar, 2004).
In planning an activity, the task should be tailored to achieve the identified aims, for example through discussion between students. Allowing time for students to use the ideas associated with observed phenomena, rather than seeing the phenomena as an end in themselves, is vital if students are to make useful links.
Hands on Brains on
Plantation work by students

Improving practice
As part of the conduction of studies of Environment in schools, the National Curriculum Framework 2005 lays emphasis on projects and the practical works in Environmental Education along with conducting the same in other subjects- social sciences, mathematics and science. For the Practical Work in Environmental Studies, the government has led a new programme of professional development. For this the government has formed various Environment Monitoring Committees, and trained key resource persons to prepare resource persons at district levels who in turn supervise school activities and activities of the National Green Corps(NGCs) opened and funded by the government of India.
The programme is designed to support teachers, technicians and teaching assistants in improving the effectiveness of practical work through using, tailoring and managing practical activities to meet particular aims. The aims of the programme are to improve the:
1. clarity of the learning outcomes associated with practical work;
2. effectiveness and impact of the practical work;
3. sustainability of this approach for ongoing improvements
4. Quality rather than the quantity of practical work used.
      This programme aims to increase the quality rather than the quantity of timetabled practical work, unless a school feels that more practical work is needed. Bringing together the programme’s aims will develop teachers’ abilities to assess the way they teach practical science at all levels and increase their confidence in producing good-quality lessons for the benefit of the young people.
 How practical work supports the study of Environmental Science is shown through following diagram-
There are many educational strategies to achieve learning objectives to prepare students to adapt and survive more effectively in life. Many of these approaches involve, to some degree, practical learning experiences structured to emulate meaningful situations, tasks, and the problem solving required of the real world. In science, educators have long held and place particular importance in the idea that hands-on experiential activities are a fundamental tenet of learning.
The activities and Practical Works (including Projects) incorporate following –
1.      Project Works
2.      Educational Tours
3.      Environment Based Competitions
4.      Study of artificial ponds
5.      Horticultural practices in schools
6.      Seminar
7.      Discussion/ debate, and many more
   Project Works for students are certain assignments given to students by the instructor. Students have to search out some problems in the local environment and find out ways to solve those problems. They usually collect data on the burning problem of the area and analyse the data to justify the problem. Afterwards they search a solution and establish public contacts to discuss with them about the viability of the solution. They may contact some authorities concerned to the field of their action and make them aware about the same. The project is written properly and supported with sufficient data, presentation, and statistical graphs etc. If there is a need the students may prepare a working model of the same and posters to present their work. These types of activities are mostly wanted in the Children’s’ Science Congresses organised by the National Science and Technology Communication Network, New Delhi.
Similar activities are also demanded in various science exhibitions like Jawaharlal Nehru Science Exhibition conducted by the National Council of Educational Research and Training New Delhi. National Council of Science Museums, Kolkata also organises Science Dramas on different themes of environment every year. The instructor of the Environmental Studies should conduct a number of projects relevant to the topics he teaches in classrooms and these projects can be sent during the activities mentioned above. This may provide recognition to students and boost their moral to march ahead in the line of environmental research.
Educational Tours are organised for students to offer them practical experiences of environment, science and culture off different parts of the country. The governments are also inclined to support such types of programmes to assist the school children. In an educational tour students learn lots of things not only about environment and science but also about history, geography, civics, culture, traditions etc.Many belongingness and the team spirit also develops among students through these activities.
      The school field trip has a long history in the world of education. For decades, students have been boarding their school buses to visit a variety of cultural institutions, including art, natural history, and science museums, as well as theaters, zoos, and historical sites. Public schools gladly start the trip for they collect the expenses from guardians of students. However, government schools in India often hesitate due to shortage of funds. Now the state governments themselves extend financial support for these activities and students of government schools too frequently go on field trips. More-advantaged families may take their children to these cultural institutions outside of school hours, but less-advantaged students are less likely to have these experiences if schools do not provide them. With field trips, public schools viewed themselves as the great equalizer in terms of access to our cultural heritage.
The world is your classroom. Learning can — and should — happen everywhere. Field trips have been a part of education for thousands of years. But valuable learning experiences outside the classroom are not trivial to plan, execute, and follow up on — let alone to pay for or to convince a principal or superintendent that they’re valuable. But despite these challenges, a carefully planned and integrated field trip offers tremendous learning potential for all students. Before going on a field trip or at the planning stage every student should know about its aim and about its connections to some particular chapters of study in his/her Environmental Studies book. In this regard, following things are very important to be considered -
·      Curriculum materials or guides that have been developed by staff members from the site you will visit.
·      Learning outcomes for the trip
·         Standard Course of Study alignment
·         Essential concepts underlying the content and structure of the trip
·         Key vocabulary that will be a part of the trip
Environment Based Competitions are organised in schools to put hands of students on experiments. There may be varieties of such competitions base on different themes of local and global environmental problems. Competitions organised on the basis of local environmental problems and phenomena are more important as these activities provide firsthand knowledge to students and offer them chances to explore the world they remain already familiar with. Survey of medicinal plants of a locality and their listing may be a more beneficial activity for a group of students of Bengal than study of the pollution of the water of the Yamuna river.Similarly study of causes affecting beauty of Taj Mahal may be a more appropriate topic for survey and research for a student of Agra than a student of Kerala. Thus competitions should be organised among students on real grounds to encourage mini research activities on the issues pertaining to the local environment only.
Study of artificial ponds can be taken as an activity for students so as to enable them study a fresh water ecosystem. They can be motivated to identify a number of producers and consumers there and to trace the food chains operating in that ecosystem. Students can also learn about different aquatic zones of a pond and about the distribution of different types of aquatic animals in it. In this way some other options for students can also be chosen for study like the trip to a lagoon, or to a salt water lake, or to a National Park or a National Sanctuary. The experience that is gained by students lasts for the whole life as it is the best form of teaching.
Horticultural practices in schools through the involvement of students are an important practical activity that should be done in all the schools. It is through these practices that students can learn everything about different types of plants including their soil and water requirements, requirements of sunlight, nutrients etc. During the process students often come to know about probable pests of a particular plant and their control through organic and inorganic methods. It is through horticultural practices that students come to know about the processes of reproduction of different plants, their morphological features and other related things. A good instructor can teach students a number of things while working with the students.
Seminar is a forum on which a student can present his opinions and studies on a particular theme. Seminars demand complete knowledge of certain topics and it is the complete preparation which boosts up a student to win the competition. In seminars a student has to present his findings on a particular topic. He has to present his findings with concrete proofs including visuals, documentaries, posters and slides etc.
A seminar is, generally, a form of academic instruction, either at an academic institution or offered by a commercial or professional organization. It has the function of bringing together small groups for recurring meetings, focusing each time on some particular subject, in which everyone present is requested to participate actively. This is often accomplished through an ongoing Socratic dialogue with a seminar leader or instructor, or through a more formal presentation of research. Normally, participants must not be beginners in the field under discussion. The idea behind the seminar system is to familiarize students more extensively with the methodology of presentation on their chosen subject and also to allow them to interact with examples of the practical problems that always occur during research work. It is essentially a place where assigned readings are discussed, questions can be raised and debates can be conducted. It is relatively informal, at least compared to the lecture system of academic instruction.
      Discussion / Debate
Debate, discussion and dialogue are common forms of communication. Debate is a combative activity and it seeks to be victorious. It wants to express itself and remains inclined to prove it better. Discussion can be defined as a debate trying to play nice. Much like a debate, it is interested in advocating its statements and challenging those of others. Dialogue is a method of communication that seeks to find a shared connection. It is not at all concerned with winning or losing. It aspires to listen deeply, understand completely, and to build a collective point of view.

In all the above cases programmes are organised for students to stand before the learned majority and to present his views. All of these demand complete knowledge and tough preparation. It is the will to inspire others or to win which activates or motivates a student to prepare his topic of study more completely. Once prepared and presented, the topic will encourage the student towards more reading and research. Thus these are important things in the teaching –learning process in Environmental studies, and also in other subjects

Experimentation in Science

We all are concerned that every school needs to provide opportunities where each child learns and happily engages in school level activities. This requires that the teaching-learning processes in each classroom must address the needs of all children- cognitive/ age appropriate curriculum, conducive and non threatening classroom environment, encouraging school based assessment and reporting practices in the school. If children find such learning environment they would be able to achieve more successfully. Thus there is a need to visualize their learning processes holistically rather than viewing child’s progress in isolation.
We all realize that children learn EVS when they are exposed to the real situations in their surroundings that help them construct, be aware, appreciate and get sensitized towards the environmental issues(natural, social and cultural) prevailing around. The learning process begins with the child’s immediate environment i.e. self and family in the early classes and moving on further to the wider environment beyond neighbourhood and community at large. NCF-2005 recommends following an integrated and thematic approach- towards its teaching learning at the primary stage. Thematic approach needs to be followed in EVS in early classes and gradually making efforts to make them understand the issues and concerns related to natural and social environment in class V and onwards.
Efforts need to be made to avoid giving direct information, definitions and descriptions as children construct their own knowledge using varied teaching and assessment strategies. However, this requires ensuring their active engagement participation in learning by exposing them to diverse experiences through a variety of sources within and outside the classrooms. According to their varied potential we all agree that assessment is carried out simultaneously i.e. during teaching learning and in natural setting. It allows us to identify the learning gaps and modify teaching-learning processes to suit the needs of all children. This would also help to provide timely feedback to the children to improve her/his future learning. The learning situations need to include a variety where children get the opportunities ensuring each child’s(including the differently abled and the disadvantaged children) participation to observe, express, discuss, question, critically think, improvise, analyze- etc.While organizing the Teaching-Learning of EVS, the following pedagogical principles need to be kept in view:
·         Each child is unique and has strengths and weaknesses. Children learn and progress at different pace and style. Some children learn best visually, some by questioning, some others by describing and observing, accordingly opportunities need to be given to get exposed to various situations.
·          Active participation of children is crucial in constructing knowledge, using environment as a learning resource that would provide meaningful learning as it would relate the child’s local knowledge with the school knowledge.
A teacher needs to encourage learning beyond four walls of the classroom and provide wider perspective of the environment around her/him. Visuals play a major role in EVS learning. Reading of visuals not only provides joy and ethos of writing material that develops critical thinking and analyzing skills but also supplement the text to reduce the content load.
students can go out to study rocks
Learning beyond the four walls of school

Picture reading activities in group with peers improves social interaction and provides more opportunities for construction of knowledge. Care needs to be taken to adopt these visuals for children with visual difficulties.difficult learning must find suitable ways to sensitize the children to the wide differences that exist within our society relating to gender discrimination, children with marginalized groups, and differently abled children, the elderly and the sick.
Children enjoy and learn more with hands-on activities i.e. creating materials with locally available material draw picture of their choice, art/ craft activities. Children are very happy and respond with enthusiasm when their creative ventures are appreciated rather than being rejected or left unnoticed, as unimportant by elders.
      Each child has an innate capacity to learn about things owing to the experiences and the information available to him/her. The child constructs new meanings based on previous knowledge and builds upon his/ her understanding. Also, all the children do not learn in a uniform manner. However, children’s unique ways of thinking and learning can become an opportunity as a Learning resource in a classroom. Different children’s experiences can serve as the beginning to explore multiple facets of ideas in the lesson. Sharing ideas and insights amongst peers provide for rich ‘scaffolding’ opportunities, rather than arrive at a ‘right’ answer.
For the teachers of Environmental Studies the practical work is part and parcel of what teaching and learning in the Environmental Science is all about. In fact, it has been found that 13- to 14-year old students are more likely to spend their lesson time doing some or the other activities.  It is expected that teachers who teach this subject tend to adopt a more ‘hands-on ‘approach to their teaching.
In order to understand why we use practical activities, we must first consider what practical work in the Environmental Studies is. The National Curriculum Framework 2005 has laid sufficient stress on the need of “Hands on Experiments” in schools. The syllabi prescribed to be implemented at different stages have separate lists of probable activities that could be considered to be practical work. These fall into two broad categories –
 1.  Core activities: These include Investigations, laboratory procedures and techniques, and fieldwork. These ‘hands-on’ activities support the development of practical skills, and help to shape students’ understanding of scientific concepts and phenomena.
2. Directly related activities: Teacher demonstrations, experiencing phenomena, designing and planning investigations, analyzing results, and data analysis using Information and Communication Technologies (ICT). These are closely related to the core activities and are either a key component of an investigation, or provide valuable first-hand experiences for students.

A range of activities were also identified which complement, but should not be a substitute for practical work. These complementary activities include science-related visits, surveys, presentations and role play, simulations including use of ICT, models and modelling, group discussion, and group text-based activities. They have an important role to play supporting practical work in developing understanding of the Concepts of Environmental Studies. 

Saturday, January 09, 2016

Fenugreek and its medicinal properties

Fenugreek is a popular plant belonging to family Fabaceae. It is native to South Eastern Europe and West Asia. However, it is grown extensively in India in states of Rajasthan, Madhya Pradesh, Gujarat, Uttar Pradesh, Maharashtra, Punjab and Karnataka. Leaves of Fenugreek are eaten as vegetables. This vegetable is rich in fibre. Thus it helps in relieving constipation. Seeds of Fenugreek are used as condiment.
Fenugreek is differently known in different languages. It is known as Methi (Hindi), Venthayam (Siddha) and Hulba (Unani).It’s botanical name is Trigonella foenum-graecum. Trigonella corniculata (Kasuri methi) is another species of Fenugreek.
About the plant
Fenugreek plant is an annual herb, 30-60 cm in height. The leaves are light green, pinnately trifoliate. Flowers are white or yellowish white and axillary. Fruits are legumes, 5-7.5cm long, narrow, curved, tapering with a slender point and containing 10-20 deeply furrowed seeds per pod.
whole plants of Methi
Fenugreek Plants

Fenugreek seeds are bitter, mucilaginous, aromatic, carminative, tonic, diuretic, thermogenic (warming), galactagogue (stimulates breast milk), astringent (constricts tissues), emollient, anti-rheumatic, CNS depressant and anti-implantation. When dry seeds are soaked in water they become mucilaginous. The seeds contain several Alkaloid, Saponins and Mucilage. Major alkaloids and other compounds contained in the plant are listed below-
Alkaloids: Trimethylamine, Neurin, Trigonelline, Choline, Gentianine, Carpaine and Betain.
Amino acids: Isoleucine, 4-Hydroxyisoleucine, Histidine, Leucine, lysine, L-tryptophan, Argenine.
Saponins: Graecunins, fenugrin B, fenugreekine, trigofoenosides A-G.
Steroidal sapinogens: Yamogenin, diosgenin, smilagenin, sarsasapogenin, tigogenin, neotigogenin, gitogenin, neogitogenin, yuccagenin, saponaretin.
Flavonoids: Quercetin, rutin, vetixin isovetixin.
Fibers: Gum, neutral detergent and Fiber.
Other chemical compounds: Coumarin, lipids, vitamins, minerals; Mucilage 28%; proteins 22%; fixed oil 5%.
Methi ke beej
Seeds of Phenukreek
Antidiabetic and hypoglycaemic effects: Fenugreek seeds have blood sugar lowering effect. This may be due to presence of various Phytochemicals (galactomannan-rich soluble fiber, amino acid 4-hydroxyisoleucine) in seeds. The amino acid present in seeds causes direct pancreatic -cell stimulation. A study of alloxan-induced diabetic mice has shown that the hypoglycaemic activity of dialysed fenugreek seed extract was comparable to that of insulin.

Demulcent: The aqueous extract of fenugreek seeds has demulcent (relieving inflammation or irritation) properties. In an experiment done on rats, it promoted healing of gastric ulcers. It also exhibited a smooth muscle relaxing effect in rabbits without affecting either the heart or blood pressure.

Wednesday, January 06, 2016

The Zonal Master Plan being prepared for Dalma

Following his presentation on 23rd December Dr. Tata L. Raghuraj, the associate professor of XLRI Jamshedpur has been given charge of preparing a zonal master plan for Dalma. Dalma is an elephant sanctuary located along Ranchi Jamshedpur road in Jamshedpur in Jamshedpur Saraikela Kharsanwa area of Jharkhand. This is being done as per direction of the Government of India. No states have so far prepared any zonal master plan for its sanctuaries located in respective states, and declare the same as Eco-sensitive zone.
Elephants preserved in Dalma Wildlife Sanctuary
Elephants in Dalma Elephant Sanctuary
The master plan in Jharkhand is to be prepared by following departments-
·         The Department of Environment Forest and Climate Change
·         -Department of Urban Development
·        - Department of Tourism
·         -Municipal Corporations
·         -Department of Revenue
·         -Jharkhand State Pollution Control Board
The plan includes –
Compensatory plantation in tree-less areas, Conservation of water bodies, Management of water catchment areas, water management, Ground Water Management, Conservation of Soil and Moisture, local communities, and Environment and ethics.

Saturday, January 02, 2016

Government plans to construct one pond in each village

The government of Jharkhand (India) has decided to construct new ponds and to renovate the old ones in every village area in the new financial year 2016-17.

An important meeting was organised in the presidentship of Mr. Amit Khare, the Principal Secretary, planning and finance, Government of Jharkhand early this week. The secretaries of different departments including water resources, rural development, animal husbandry and cooperative, and agriculture attended the meeting. The meeting was organised as per direction of the Chief Minister.

a pond in a village
A village pond
The plan incorporates the construction of at least one big pond. It there is already a pond, it is planned to be constructed deeper and broader. The Ministry of Rural Development has been instructed to construct new ponds in villages where there are no ponds. It was also decided to make check dams wherever important.

The Department of Water Resources is instructed to renovate old ponds making it deep and expanding it up to five acres. It has also been instructed to prepare a database of all the ponds with their actual number and other details. Ponds that are limited in area up to less than five acres are to be renovated by the department of Animal Husbandry and cooperative.

New ponds are to be constructed by the Department of Rural Development.Village  Panchayats have also been instructed to repair the old and less useful check dams.

Days have gone when there were numerous ponds in Jharkhand one or two per village. But, owing to expansion of human habitation, apartment culture, urbanisation etc activities most of them disappeared. Old people were wise enough to construct ponds in every village area to stabilize the local ecosystems, to cool the atmosphere, to facilitate agriculture through irrigation, to provide water for grazing cattle etc. But in current situations most of those ponds have disappeared. Thus, it is a novel step by the government to improve living of masses and to repair the environmental imbalance at the grassroots level and it must be appreciated.