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Masters in Conservation Leadership

Off to see Spiders

Vena Kapoor (cohort 2010-11) recently authored a children's book. Off to see spiders! is a book to introduce a few common spiders in India to young children who are just starting to read by themselves. This book was commissioned and published by Pratham Books - a leading publisher in India for children's books, and as part of their effort to popularise STEM subjects among children. The book has now also been translated and published into a few more Indian languages and through the organisation's open source story platform - StoryWeaver, there is an online and free version of the book that's available in various languages as well.

The team at Pratham Books reached out to me after reading some of the popular articles on spiders that I have written. For many years I have also been taking both children and adults on nature, spider walks and conduct talks and workshops, and so the choice of species listed in the book and the narration is loosely based on these experiences. It was fun and interesting to work with a well-known editor and to discuss and help translate the visuals for the book with a professional artist. This collaborative effort made working on the book much more real and rewarding.
I am also currently heading a 3 year project at the Nature Conservation FoundationIndia to develop a nature learning framework and modules that are locally relevant and age-appropriate for schools in India. In India, after a Supreme Court order, Environmental Sciences (EVS) has become a compulsory part of the school curriculum especially in the primary sections. While this has been a progressive move the current EVS curriculum is very generic with hardly any emphasis on outdoor-based experiential learning and teachers feeling ill equipped to handle the subject. Along with my team I am collaborating with education professionals, designers, ecologists and school teachers to create pedagogically sound and contextual nature learning modules that can be weaved into the EVS curriculum. We are currently working closely with a few schools and teachers in Bangalore to start with to trial and test our framework and modules before we start partnering with other education organisations and sharing this with the conservation community in India.