Bhutan Blog: Did the First King of Bhutan have only one hand?

Photo (above) – Rinchen and his team (left to right – Jigme, Tulsi Prasad, Tshering, and Rinchen) explain their project investigating whether the First King of Bhutan had only one hand.

Photo (below) – Photo – Teachers prepare for their research presentations in the place-based education workshop.

Today was “Science as a Verb” day for our place-based education workshop in Thimphu at the Division of Youth and Sports (DYS) campus. We have 36 teachers in the workshop (we had only anticipated 25 but we could not turn anyone away!) researching questions on a range of science and social studies topics, such as: what type of paper absorbs the most water? How many science teachers are in our group and why do they like to teach science? What types of insects live on the DYS campus? What political parties will be most likely to win in the upcoming elections? And the one that captured our own interest the most (as non-Bhutanese) – did the First King of Bhutan, Ugyen Wangchuk, have only 1 hand?In many pictures the first King only has one hand visible, and one of the teacher-researchers, Rinchen Phuntsho, was asked by a student a few years ago whether or not the First King (who reigned from 1907-1926) had only one hand. Rinchen did not know, and his three co-teacher-researchers had heard similar rumors before. So their team embarked on an investigation, using Dr. Doug Wachob’s scientific method, to try to see if they could find the answer. Their investigation began in the library where they requested books with pictures of the First King. They also interviewed adults on the DYS campus about whether or not they thought the First King had only one hand or not. With their data collected (pictures and interviews), the teacher-researchers set about analyzing their data and drawing conclusions. They found that in pictures the First King is photographed sometimes with his left hand not visible and sometimes with his right hand not visible. He did not participate in any battles in which he would have lost his hand, and they could not find any records that indicated he had only one hand. Interviews with visitors at the DYS campus revealed mixed opinions about whether or not the First King had one hand and how he might have lost it, if he did indeed only have one hand. In the end, the team concluded that the First King did have both hands, but the style of gho’s at the time of his reign was such that a sleeve was often long enough to cover a hand. The teachers and our Teton Science Schools’ team was very excited about the research projects, and we were most excited to learn about this interesting part of Bhutan’s history. Tomorrow (Thursday, January 17) we will conclude our workshop with what we anticipate will be 36 enthusiastic teachers eager to practice place-based education.Sadly, we bid farewell to Tracy Logan today. She departed to return back to Jackson to her family. Tracy has been a wonderful part of our team the last week and a half – we’ll miss you, Tracy!

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