At Omega, we believe that the best learning happens when students experience the learning, instead of just being taught from a textbook. Wherever possible, therefore, classroom teaching is augmented by experiential learning in the school’s laboratories.
Over the last couple of years, the school has created four large labs for students of Senior School, for Physics, Chemistry, Biology and Biotechnology and Atal Tinkering lab with Electronics and Instrumentation. Each of these labs is more than 3000 sq.ft in size, and is equipped with all instruments that are needed to give students a good understanding of the subjects that they have learnt in the classroom.
The school has invested heavily, equipping all the labs with not only all the regular equipment, but also many instruments and devices that are usually only found in universities and other specialized laboratories. We are also training teachers to engage students in new and innovative ways to assist them in their learning of complex concepts in Science and Mathematics, and help them to achieve significant cognitive expansion. All the labs are supported by Kyan projectors for augmented visual/on-line learning.
Such investment is not only for core subjects but also for disciplines such as Fine Arts, where for subjects like etching and print making, we host students from local colleges, who come to our campus to use our equipment which, in many cases, is better than that in their colleges.
Apart from the normal experiments related to Electricity, Magnetism, Sound, Light and Mechanics, students are taught to work with Lasers for diffraction and interference studies and to use a Lab disc which has various sensors, and can function as an Accelerometer and gauge air pressure, ambient temperature and sound waves.
In addition, students get first-hand experience of using the following instruments:
Searle’s apparatus – to determine and analyse the elasticity in a metallic wire.
Cathode RayOscilloscope – to analyse accurate time and amplitude measurements of voltage signals over a wide range of frequencies, as also detailed analysis of the distortion, mixing, deviation, altercation of electrical and electronic signals.
Vibration/deflection Magnetometers – to compare magnetic field and magnetic moments of bar magnet at different axis.
Polaroid – to demonstrate movement of light along single axis.
Spectroscope – to detect static electricity by using thin metal or plastic leaves.
Boyle’s Law Apparatus – to validate the relation between pressure and volume at fixed temperature for a given amount of gas, and
Van De Graaff generator – to produce high voltage static electricity to accelerate particles for transmutation.
The objective of practical experimentation is to promote the basic procedural, observational, interpretational and reporting skills.
From simple processes like Crystallization and Centrifugation to complex Chromatography and fractional distillation, all are performed by students in the Chemistry laboratory.
Water and soil analysis kits are given to students to measure pH, Conductivity, TDS and turbidity of ground water in the school campus and environs. Water potability and soil texture are analysed and reported for records.
Electrochemical cell construction and function, electro-plating and polymer synthesis are some of the activities in the Chemistry lab. Optical rotations of organic compounds using a Polarimeter, and concentration analysis of coloured compounds using a Colorimeter help students to comprehend abstract concepts.
Biology and Biotechnology
There is phenomenal learning in the Biology and Biotechnology labs at Omega. Analysis of chemicals and microbes in soil, water, milk and various kinds foods are carried out by students from grades VII to XII in the lab.
Microanalysis of ions in plants and study of their pharmacology are extensively studied in the Biotechnology lab. To prevent exposure to hazardous chemicals, a fume-hood is used in the laboratory.
Microorganisms are cultured in the Laminar air flow chamber and then incubated for morphological and biochemical characterization studies in the BOD incubator. Slides are prepared using a Rotary Microtome and the histological features of the cells that are mounted on these slides are analysed using a Trinocular microscope fitted with a digital camera. This permits students to, for instance, observe the live feeding action of the micro-organism Rotifer mounted on a slide, on the computer screen.
The process of sterile culturing of microbes is done in the Autoclave. This ensures nil contamination and spread of the organism being studied into the environment.
DNA in organic species is isolated by the process of electrophoresis and detected with the UV Trans-illuminator. This gives students an education on Genomics, restriction digestion analysis, plasmid isolation and transformation of the DNA in microbes. The lab also owns a refrigerated centrifuge for DNA separation.
Absorption spectrum of photo-pigments using a UV Spectrophotometer helps students to gauge the extent of photosynthesis in samples of plants. Projects have been undertaken to survey samples of medicinal plants that are grown in the school campus. Purity assay of biomolecules in organic extracts is also done using the UV Spectrophotometer.
Students also study BOD and DO in water samples collected from across the campus. BOD indicates the amount of decaying organic matter present in water. A low BOD is an indicator of good quality water, while a high BOD indicates polluted water. Dissolved oxygen (DO) is consumed by bacteria when large amounts of organic matter from sewage or other discharges are present in the water.
Haemoglobin content and count of blood cell are analysed using a Haematometer.
The Biology lab has a large aquarium to study the breathing rate of marine fish by the movement of Operculum, which is also an indication of amount of dissolved oxygen in water. The embryonic breeding process of fresh water Discus fish in a confined environment is also being comprehensively studied.
Atal Tinkering Lab
The school has invested in a 3D Printer, as also capabilities in image analysis and contour imaging. Complex solid objects of varying shapes, sourced from a digital file, are made using the 3D Printer.
Arduino board and Raspberry pi board based projects are given to students from Grade VI onward. Students have devised ultrasonic sensors for the blind, as well as sensors to check humidity, light and sound, colour recognition and air quality.
Two levels of Robotics kits are provided to students on an online platform. The Foundation level has basic electronic circuit building, sensors and motors, while the Beginner’s level has mechanical designs, gears, robots and engineering drawing.
A Celestial Grid Sky Map is available in the lab for study of constellations, longitude and latitude of the planets.Using the map, students are able to view celestial objects using three astronomical telescopes mounted on the roof top in the campus. The school owns three telescopes, a Meade Lx-50, and two reflector telescopes from Russia. The Sirius Club organises events to motivate students to learn about special astronomical events. This experience was extended to members of the public at Elliots Beach, Chennai, when they had the unique opportunity to study the ‘Blue Moon’.
Using a Grating spectrometer, students are taught to decipher atomic spectra by separating light of different wavelengths using a high resolution Diffraction Grating
Numerical concepts and shape-geometry is taught in the Mathematics laboratory using Tangram puzzles and small models. Students’ models, assembled during lab-hours, are collected and stored as a learning repository.
Students are taught the following in the Fine Arts department:
Drawing and sketching
Portraiture and caricature
Painting in different media such as watercolours, acrylics and oils
Print making and chemical etching
Pottery and clay modelling, as well as papier-machè
Art History and our cultural and artistic heritage
Students are able to fire their models and pottery objects in the school’s two furnaces, capable of temperatures up to 1300 degrees Centigrade.
Students make a vast array of personal jewelry objects using non-traditional materials such as beads, paper, clay fired objects etc.
A manual weaving loom for silk and cotton and embroidery enabled sewing machines help students in Fashion Design studies. This is augmented with Aaricot work by students.
We believe in recycling and reusing waste paper generated in the school. Students are educated on the processes of converting paper waste into useful products. Students collect paper waste from the classes and are then converted into handmade paper in the school’s paper plant.
The paper plant has a rag chopper to cut waste cloth into fragments, a Hollander beater to grind this waste paper and fragmented cloth bits into pulp, a Pedal Vat to help feed the material onto rollers, and to sheet the pulp into the required thickness of paper. The dried paper is then further processed through a Hydraulic press and a Calendaring machine and to give it an even thickness and feel.
This paper is then converted by students into a variety of useful and decorative products for home and office use.
Students also study and learn from the following sustainability projects undertaken at the school campus:
200 Kw of rooftop solar panels for generating electricity, which is then consumed/fed into the TNEB grid
Rooftop solar water heaters for heating bath water for the dormitories
Two large rain water harvesting ponds, with a combined capacity of around 3 million litres
Five effluent and sewage treatment plants across the campus, using an environment friendly bacterial treatment process, to convert all the effluent on campus into good water, which is then used in the campus gardens
A number of bee hives to study Apiculture and to harvest honey
A large variety of native trees and shrubs, to help students study the bio-diversity on campus
A composter to convert food waste generated on campus into organic compost for use in the campus gardens
The school is the official custodian (through a Government Order) of the Adyar Link Canal, a waste water channel that runs adjacent to the school, which students are now working at to convert into an eco-sustainable environment.