"Questioning Authority: How Students Interact with Their Teacher's Research"

In the year 2021, CUBists like Smiti Gupta, Misbah Shaikh, Enas Shirin Fatma, Saida Sayyed, Theertha M.D., and myself, with many others, conducted an online induction to the CUBE program for the students of Chaitanya College of Pamghar, Chhattisgarh. Since then, they are one of the very active members of the CUBE activities and discussions and things like setting up homelab and performing frugal experiments. In all this, Ms. Bhagwati Sahu, who is an assistant professor in Chaitanya College, took the lead. She also attended the CUBE National Meet 2023 in Somiaya College, Mumbai, with 1 of her students, Nidhi Devdas, a 2nd year B.Sc student.

Recently, Bhagwati ma’am posted a photo of her discussion with students on an experiment to find out decision-making capability of snails.

Now, this photo is what this write-up is all about. How common is it to find an academic setting where a teacher shares her work with one of her students in her class? Well, i am not sure of the statistics, but I haven’t come across much.

To give you a context, let me elaborate. CUBE developed this instrument they call “THE OLFACTOMETER,” which they use to find out the learning and memory of snails. In the setup, they place a snail in the center of a circle, and on the opposite side, they keep a water drop, and on the other side, they keep fruit or vegetable extracts, for example, cucumber juice, as shown in the photo below and the green dots are the smell gradient in the area. The snails follow the smell and reach the drop. When he learns that the GOOD SMELL = GOOD TASTE, the cucumber is mixed with butter substance with no smell, and now when the snail is at run, the memory of GOOD SMELL = GOOD TASTE changes to GOOD SMELL= BAD TASTE. Now after this, when we consecutively run the snail, it shows no movements towards the smell.

Bhagwati Ma’am, along with Nidhi and Other students, did the same with one side of potato and the other side of tomato.
She writes: Today we conducted an experiment to check the feeding behavior of snail. We first made a circle of radius 29 cm and placed potatoes on the north side of the circle and tomatoes on the south side. We did this experiment eight times, but the result we got was that in both the times the snail neither moved towards the potato nor towards the tomato and they were moving in different directions. Date- 27/10/23 time - 11:22 am

Now it is not about the accuracy of the setup or the vegetable used and in what form. It’s about the inspiration to initiate a simple experiment that will further boost the curiosity, and they would be able to come up with the good ups in the design or where else. When Bhagwati Ma’am discussed this in her class, a few questions were raised about expectations, future plans, etc.

She write about her discussion with students: Students had expected that the snail would move towards the tomato or potato but the snail moved in the other direction, so the students’ question was why the snail did not move towards the potato and tomato. We discussed and came to the conclusion that The snail would not be hungry at the time we conducted the experiment, but on the same day, after three hours, we placed the snail in the center four times and still it did not move towards the potato and tomato

This case is very interesting because it highlights a teacher’s role in shaping the thought process and not just completing the syllabus and asking to complete 200 pages of the journal for mark sake. I have never had this opportunity in my college, and most of the time, stories like those of Chaitanya College comes forward when we have a community that cares for the cause like the one we have at CUBE.

I will followup and post more this thread.