Environmental Education through AuroVanam, Nature Lab

Start Date:22-May-2024

End Date:31-Dec-2024


Institute:Svarnim Puducherry

Learning from Nature

From April 2024 onwards, children from Sri Aurobindo International Centre of Education, Pondicherry started visiting AuroVanam for forest walks. These walks are special as they showcase the native trees and vegetation species of the Tropical Dry Evergreen Forest (TDEF). The trail of the walk follows around a narrow path through thick trees and lianas and wild-growing bamboos; it goes around the ponds showcasing the flora and fauna of this area’s Wetlands. The tall grasses in the water can been seen hosting water birds and insects, which are a part of the ecosystem.

One of the highlights of the children’s walks was a Soap-nut tree, which had just shed some of its fruits which were collected by the children. Shiva, AuroVanam’s resource person, then demonstrated how to wash their hands with these soap-nuts.

Vegetable Garden

Following the walk, the children delightfully explored the vegetable garden where native vegetables grow organically mainly for seed collection for the seed bank. They were taught the basics about food biodiversity. Several varieties of chilies were shown, some orange others red, some very tiny and other huge ones. The sweet corn plants fascinated them when told that these were the source of popcorns! Some began to get hungry! Meanwhile, they were all very enthusiastic to water the vegetables and also dug holes to plant the chilies. With this exercise, one was able to introduce to the children the concept of mulching, which is very important for water conservation.

Grey Water Recycling

The grey water from the Nature Lab’s toilets and sinks is channelized into a water-recycling system. It was explained to the children how all the dirty water when flushed goes into the recycling process. When they saw that the processed water is clean and without any stench, they were astonished, and their little minds began to think beyond just flushing. It was again surprising when they observed the plants growing on the tank which absorb heavy-metals from the water. These are common plants such as the Canna which grow on the Beach Road and Yams.

Seed Bank

The children then visited the seed bank showcasing many shelves and bottles of 60 or more varieties of indigenous seeds. The many varieties of corn which were colorful and tiny fascinated them. They noted the process of how some vegetable seeds are dried and later kept safely in containers. Later, in the balcony on the comfortable wooden floor, they shared their feedback on what they liked most about their Aurovanam walk experience; some liked working, digging and planting while others were keener on the painted snake panels, yet others liked the freshly cut and served jackfruits and the soap-nuts.


One of the teachers wrote,

We had a very happy, informative and educational time at AuroVanam this morning.

We learnt about what makes an evergreen tropical forest, how the weaver birds make nests in the tall reeds, the soaps in nature, we witnessed first-hand the use of medicinal plants when a child was bitten by red ants....

The children also thought that AuroVanam is one of the most beautiful places they’ve been to and wanted to keep retuning to this forest whenever possible. Some even wished to live there!