Toys From Trash - Arvind Gupta Talks To Us About Creating Toys For Children!

posted by R's Mom , November 24, 2015

Arvind Gupta is the man behind the initiative of Toys From Trash. His website has hundreds of toys based on science. These toys are made from the cheapest of materials available. An IIT Kanpur graduate, Arvind has published many books and received many awards for his work.

Arvind has been kind enough to speak to IMC about his ventures.

IMC: Tell us the story behind your venture? How did you think of starting it?

AG: In the late 1970s I was inspired by the Hoshangabad Science Teaching Program (HSTP) which attempted to introduce activity-based science teaching in rural schools in Madhya Pradesh and thus revitalizing the learning of science. I have been privileged to conduct science teaching workshops in over 3000 schools.

In 2003 after we moved from New Delhi to Pune I was invited by Prof Jayant Narlikar to work in the Children's Science Centre located at IUCAA (Inter-University Centre for Astronomy & Astrophysics).

We had a brilliant, enthusiastic and dedicated team of just 4 people who worked out of a 400-sqft room. We conducted free science activity workshops with children twice a week and rest of the time documented simple science experiments and fun toys into books, photos, and videos. Today we have over 6300 videos of Toys from Trash on our website. Over 42-million children and teachers have viewed our videos.

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IMC: How did you conceptualize the 'Best out of waste' toys?

AG: We live in a consumerist society which produces a lot of junk. We thought of using very ordinary day-to-day stuff often throwaway things like newspapers, tetrapaks, old pens, refills, plastic bottles, broomsticks etc for making simple toys. Ancient India believed that nothing should be thrown and that everything has nine lives. So, once the water in the Rail Neer bottle is finished the bottle could be reincarnated to making a simple science model. We have over a hundred models which recycle old plastic bottles to make school science more exciting.

IMC: Books in Indian languages are something which is much-needed. How did you think of that?

AG: Yes most pedagogues opine that the first few years' children learn best in their own mother tongue. There is a great dearth of good quality children's literature in Indian languages. For many years I have endeavored to get good books on education and wonderful children's books from all over the world translated in Indian languages.

I have tried my best to translate books in Hindi and am currently translating the 175th book in Hindi. There are over 5000 books on my website and there is a tremendous response to them. Every day 20,000 books are downloaded from my website. It just shows the hunger for good educational material in our people.

IMC: Do you plan to expand your line of business to other products?

AG: No.

IMC: Three tips you want to share with budding entrepreneurs?

AG: It is good to be an entrepreneur because that gives one the freedom to attain one's dreams. But as entrepreneurs, we must never lose sight of the fact that millions of all Indian citizens just cannot afford the products advertised in glitzy ads. If we are born in privilege, we must help the poor.

Thanks Arvind for chatting with us

Image credits: Arvind Gupta

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