Geography Laboratory

Discover Earth anew through a hands-on experience, by connecting natural science with social science


Geography is not just about reading textbooks and memorising facts, it is a fascinating subject that requires hands-on experience to truly understand its complexities. That is why we have established a unique space for creating a thirst for geography learning– a space where students can immerse themselves in the physical and social sciences that are integrated into this multidisciplinary subject. 

One may ask why we need a Geography laboratory. Geography is all around us, from the land where we stand and the rocks beneath our feet to the weather patterns around us to the clouds in the sky. Without a lab space, it is nearly impossible to teach many of the fundamental concepts that make up this diverse field. 

Without a lab space, it is nearly impossible to teach many of the fundamental concepts that make up this diverse field. Geography is not just about maps and globes – it is about the natural and social processes that shape our world. The challenge lies in the nature of the discipline itself, which combines physical and social sciences.

Unfortunately, most of the time, the students are introduced to geography as a part of social studies, which does not always do justice to the subject’s scientific roots. As a result, students often struggle to grasp the concepts of physical geography, such as rocks, soil, and water cycles.

They might be shown pictures and diagrams, but without the chance to observe and experience these phenomena firsthand, the learning remains incomplete.

  • Geolab cartoon 2

    Credits: Saswati Paik

  • Geolab cartoon 3

    Credits: Saswati Paik

  • Geolab cartoon 5

    Source: DownToEarth

Frequently Created Confusions

The lab space offers students the opportunity for experiential learning, making the subject more interesting and livelier. With a hands-on approach to learning, students can feel the texture of different soils, observe their colours, and understand the variations that make up our planet’s surface.

In the lab, students are encouraged to use recycled or sustainable materials to create models and teaching aids. This promotes sustainability and reduces the environmental impact of the lab. Students also collect resources from the field, such as rock samples, soil samples, and plant samples, which can be used for observation in the lab.

The Geography lab at Azim Premji University offers a unique and engaging learning experience for students, connecting natural science with social science and promoting sustainability.

The lab offers in-service teachers various ways to enhance their teaching practices and engage their students. They can use it as a resource for lesson planning, participate in professional development workshops, and bring their students for hands-on activities and experiments. 

The lab provides access to materials, models, and tools that can make learning more enjoyable and effective for students. Moreover, teachers can collaborate and share ideas in the lab, leading to the development of innovative teaching practices.

Professional development for teachers

To help a few teachers who teach geography in secondary and/​or senior secondary schools (Grade VI to XII), and are willing to learn geography, its concepts discussed in school textbooks, possible pedagogical approaches to make their classes interesting and engaging with a richer content knowledge, a series of workshops are being conducted in Azim Premji University. 

Click here to know more about a workshop in that series.

To make geography interesting for students, it is important to create a lab space where the students can get the opportunity for experiential learning. There is a huge difference between studying the characters of various rocks and understanding the characters by observing and touching the rocks of various types. 

Similarly, they must feel the texture of different soils and observe their colours to understand the variations in soil. They must experience what happens when water is added to different types of soil.

Learning and the joy that comes with it are evident through such experiential learning. Geography becomes a lively subject instead of a boring subject with mere factual information, as stated by many students who come to our University. Students often express interest in social studies but have the least interest in geography. After experiencing the lab space, one observes a change in their perception of the discipline. 

The learning about maps and their elements like direction, scale, and legend becomes extremely different when they get a space to create their own maps and globes, spreading themselves on a flat ground, playing with multiple types of maps instead of observing a map hanging on a wall or observing a strange globe with some colours. The concepts of latitude and longitude become easy while they create their own globe and equatorial plane with recycled materials. 

The geography lab space in our University has been created as a space for that unique learning of geography through a hands-on experience for various aspects connecting natural science with social science.

During my field practice, to an extent, I was able to answer the questions of the grade VI students. Having seen a geography lab for the first time and the models and components it has, helped contextualise the content for myself and for the children I engaged with.
Samiksha Sahu_MA Education student-2023

Samiksha Sahu, Student, MA Education

The lab is accessible to all our students at Azim Premji University. It contains self-learning material in the form of a poster that gives an overview of the discipline and the school curriculum in India. 

MA Education students specialising in Social Studies can use the lab to understand the concepts in a better manner and to make their own teaching-learning materials for the future.

Teachers attending the Geography for Life’ workshop can also learn about the lab’s utility. 

We can make the lab available to local schools upon request.

In the Geography lab, I was engaged in activities like map making, identifying soil types, and observing models related to the interior of the earth. These engagements helped me develop pedagogical skills and TLM (Teaching and Learning Material) making skills for primary grades.
Monish_MA Education student- 2023

S Monish, Student, MA Education

In the geography lab, we encourage our students to use recycled or sustainable materials in creating the models. In preparing models, it is important to think about sustainability and the impact of our choices on the environment. 

For example, instead of using new plastic or glass containers, we utilised the used plastic containers. Instead of purchasing new materials for making models of the soil profile, we utilised the already used cardboard and chart papers in the craft room.

Another example of using available and already used materials is creating a graticule (a tool used in geography labs to measure and map geographic features) using an old bulb. 

We also created flashcards using waste papers to create interactive aids for teaching concepts. We covered a wide range of topics, including, geological processes, landforms, climate, physical and human geography.

Used chocolate boxes have been used for displaying various items such as rocks and minerals. Students are also being taught about the importance of reusing materials and reducing their environmental impact through the above examples.

When students go to different field institutes, they collect various resources that can be used in the geography lab. For example, they can collect rock samples, soil samples, and plant samples. These resources can then be used for observation in the lab. 

Collecting resources for the lab not only provides students with a hands-on learning experience but also allows them to connect with the environment. It also gives students an opportunity to apply what they have learned in the classroom to real-world settings.

In-service teachers can make use of the lab in a variety of ways to enhance their teaching practices and engage their students. Here are a few examples:

  • Resource for lesson planning: The lab can serve as a valuable resource for in-service teachers to plan and develop lessons that align with the curriculum. By having access to various materials, models, and tools in the lab, teachers can create hands-on activities and experiments that help to reinforce concepts learned in the classroom.
  • Professional development: The lab can also be used as a space for in-service teachers to participate in professional development opportunities. For example, workshops are also held in the lab to provide training on new teaching strategies, technologies, and equipment. Teachers can also collaborate and share ideas with other teachers in the lab, which can lead to the development of innovative teaching practices.
  • Student engagement: In-service teachers can use the lab to engage their students in the learning process. For example, teachers can bring their students to the lab to participate in hands-on activities and experiments. This can help to make learning more enjoyable and help students to better understand the concepts they are learning.

The lab can serve as a valuable resource for in-service teachers to enhance their teaching practices and engage their students. By providing access to various materials, models, and tools, the lab can help to make learning more enjoyable and effective for students. 

Additionally, the lab can serve as a space for professional development and collaboration among teachers, leading to the development of innovative teaching practices.