Shivaji Mane: this '7th pass' makes toy-making so exciting!
Shivaji grew up in Latur, Maharashtra as the son of a cobbler. He studied till standard seven and dropped out of school to help his parents, financially. He and his brother were sent to Kerala to earn a living to pay off the debts that his parents had incurred in the hope of setting up a slipper-making unit, which closed down due to financial losses. Shivaji was quick to learn Malayalam, a language spoken in Kerala, early signs that this young teenager was a quick learner.
The family travelled to different cities in search of work where Shivaji also worked in a brick-making unit and finally settled in Pune, Maharashtra. He met a friend who worked for the Inter-University Centre for Astronomy and Astrophysics (IUCAA). Shivaji too joined as part of the house-keeping team at IUCAA.
At IUCAA, one area that specifically interested him was Arvind Gupta's lab where toys were made out of trash to help explain scientific principles to children. After work, Shivaji spent time in the lab helping the team create toys and suitably impressed his soon to become mentor, guide and philosopher Arvind Gupta.
The journey from Latur to Pune; from being a 7th standard dropout to a teacher of students and teachers; from staying hungry for food to generating hunger for knowledge of scientific principles at work the fun way, among children...Shivaji Mane's journey has certainly been extraordinary.
A mother's faith and belief in her children's abilities and ambitions drive her to push the wheels of destiny in their favour. Mane's mother was no different. She pushed the family out of their fate of earning wages through hard physical labour that merely filled their bellies but didn't leave them with any savings. It's what brought them to the doorsteps of IUCAA in the year 2000 and they've never looked back, since.
Mane leads the Tinkering Lab initiative and integrates hands on activities, works on interesting demonstrations across grades and subjects and is designing installations for The Learning Museum on the DLRC campus. He conducts STHEAM training programs for teachers and immersion sessions for kids across the country. Recently, he conducted a Tinkering Club session for 270 kids from Dervan in rural Maharashtra. The latest product being developed is the Tinkering Toy Box, which is a subscription based. It contains recycled and easily available materials alongwith instructions to assemble and questions that feed thinking.
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