CUBING FOR GOOD @ THE TEDX!
The Lexicon International School, Wagholi (Pune) invited Amit (Grade 11) and Tarini Ramchandani (Grade 7) to talk about their initiative ‘Cubing for Good ’at the Tedx event held in their school on December 19 2020. This initiative is aimed at sharing the joy of cubing with the visually challenged individuals and anyone who wants to learn and enjoy solving Rubik’s cubes and puzzles.
The estimated number of blind persons in India in 2020 is 31.6 million .The visually impaired have a unique set of requirements needed to explore and learn from the environment around them.Rubik’s cubes and other logical puzzles are helpful not only from the point of view of improving
hand-eye coordination, promoting logical thinking, increasing concentration time but in the case of the visually challenged, is particularly helpful in learning geometry. Amit has been instructing the partially visually challenged since he was in Grade 7. He has also helped in refurbishing numerous Rubik’s cubes so as to enable recycling and reuse. During the lockdown, he was approached to train fully blind kids by using the on-line medium of instruction. In order to familiarize himself with a Braille cube, he blindfolded himself and learnt about the various nuances of solving the 3*3Rubiks cube. Tarini has assisted him and worked with kids that are considered to be “hyper active”.
She uses the Pyraminx puzzle mainly and is adept at solving it.
The main learnings acquired by Amit and Tarini so far in the course of their 3.5 year journey can be summarized as follows:
1) The visually challenged are very quick learners! When Amit taught two partially visually- challenged kids he was surprised at their ability to follow instructions and implement them very quickly. The kids took just two hours to learn one of the algorithm to solve the entire 3*3 Rubik’s cube! The fully blind kids were very motivated and interested in learning. They would diligently send their queries and videos showing their progress during the week and wait for their next class. In fact they would be there for class at least 10 minutes before time – all ready for the session
2) The fully blind kids have superior tactile abilities as compared to the regular sighted kids.When Amit was training himself to use the Braille cube, he found that navigating the side with the 5 dots and the 6 dots to be confusing. However the fully blind kids had absolutely no problem in sensing the difference and navigating the cube.
3) Cost can be a barrier. The Braille cube costs approx. Rs 700 per piece. Moreover a stable internet access is required to conduct each session smoothly. This can be a barrier for economically challenged kids. In case of the fully blind kids, the Braille cubes were sponsored and so they were able to get them else they may not have been in a position to learn.
4) An enabling environment in the school and at home is required to facilitate the continued learning and development of the visually challenged. In case of the partially blind kids, the learning was interrupted because they had to return to their villages during the summer break and since their school/hostel was far away finding mutually convenient time slots proved to be challenging. In case of the fully blind kids, the issues between the sponsoring NGO and their school caused the learning sessions to be stopped abruptly. This was very unfortunate as the kids really looked forward to their sessions.
5) Using actual puzzles can help in understanding geometry concepts better. Logical puzzles are
available in various shapes such as hexagon, cylinder, cube, 2*2, 3*3, pyraminx to name a few. Seeing these puzzles can help facilitate the grasping concepts like depth, height.