“Nature can be a well equipped classroom, patient teacher and awesome friend all rolled in one. Here are glimpses of one of our programmes, where we explored trees and math.”

It was just a typical weekend event – 10 families arrived at Cubbon Park, Bengaluru with only a vague idea of what was going to happen next. The poster mentioned a treasure hunt. Each clue led the group to do an activity and one of them was to find the widest tree in the park and measure the width of the trunk (known as the girth). After going around the tree with tape, then with a thread and after a few failed attempts, long discussion, additions and converting units to centimeters, the kids arrived at an answer.

At first sight, she was just a big fig tree with hanging roots. Going around her, hugging her, and measuring her had the little ones awestruck by her enormity. Next, they had to observe the tree and discover who called it home.

The little detectives were in full form. “There seems to be a burrow! Could a snake be living inside?” shouted a girl with a pigtail.

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“Probably a rat,” observed another girl.

“Several chirping birds call it home,” pointed out an oily-haired boy. Webs with spiders, squirrels, ants, bugs, pigeons – the list went on!

The tree they chose wasn’t just a giant, but a beautiful home. 

Suddenly Sai Ma’am shouted, “I have a doubt. So all of you went around the tree and took her measurements. What shape does it look like?”

A girl sighed. “That’s your doubt? It is a circle.”

“So, what did you measure?” asked Sai.

“The circumference?” replied a boy.

Sai smiled. “Oh right, so what is the diameter?”

Everyone chanted, “The line that passes through the center!”

“I want to know the diameter of the tree then”

Everyone was horrified. “You want us to chop the tree? We thought you loved the tree!”

“Of course I love her; she is my best friend,” laughed Sai. “Can we do it without chopping her?”

A boy raised his hand. “We could take the thread and climb over the tree?” he asked hesitantly.

“But it has branches,” a girl pointed out. “How will we get the diameter?”

“Wait a second!” the boy exclaimed. “Isn’t the circumference approximately 3 times the diameter?”

“Hey, didn’t we learn C= πd?” another girl replied excitedly. 

“There you go,” said Sai proudly. “Miss Tree is teaching us math today! Solve the mystery of the circumference and you will get your treasure.” Children went home with big smiles and I got a few hugs that recharged my week.

Next week we bring another story, a story that astonished us. 

Sai Devi

Educator and Founder of Thicket Tales which capacitates children and families to explore and learn from their surroundings through games, experiments and projects.

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