Science for Society

Science for Society

Jidnyasa’s Science Square is a programme that brings students, teachers and scientists together for creating a better world. Science Square encourages students from various colleges to work on community issues by applying scientific methods. Earlier this year, when Jidnaysa launched the Science Square programme, the aim was to collaborate with research institutes and colleges to bring science out of the ivory towers and into the streets.

On October 29, 2004, members of Jidnyasa Vidnyan Munch (science platform) presented their research projects as part of the Science Square programme. Dr. Shyam Asolekar, head of department of Environmental Engineering at IIT Bombay and Ashok Datar, Director of Maharashtra Economic Development Council were the chief guests at the event. SYBSc students of Ramnairain Ruia College and B N Bandodkar College presented six projects as part of Science Square. Two class seven students from Thane, Sai and Jai, presented a special project titled, "Contamination of Water in Storage Tanks of Residential Societies in Naupada Area". Sai and Jai, who are members of Jidnyasa, won accolades from guests for their research, which found that in 25 per cent of all the societies in Naupada, water stored in tanks is heavily contaminated.

In his speech, Asolekar, explained the concept and background of the sustainable development. While pointing out the importance of the work done by Jidnyasa, Asolekar noted that this kind of work represents a global shift towards environmental consciousness. TMC Commissioner Sanjay Sethi, who was also present at the event, applauded students for their sincere efforts and also appreciated Jidnyasa for its commitment to the betterment of thane city.

According to Surendra Dighe, Managing Trustee if Jidnyasa, Science Square stands for four points of a square: Research Institutes (BARC, TIFR and IITs), Colleges and college students, Private and Public Schools and its students and Municipal Schools and its students. The idea is that scientists and college professors provide opportunities to undergraduate students to conduct scientific experiments while simultaneously also benefit the society. The undergraduate students and college professors would train public and private school teachers and students who in turn will spread scientific awareness among the municipal schools and its students.

Two of the projects, one on Vermi-composting and the other on biogas, were for BMC and were supported by MEDC. Two projects were for TMC, where students analysed the chemical and biological composition of sewage channels in Thane. These were supported by the TMC. Two more projects were carried out in Dicholi Village at Mokhada (Thane District), an adivasi area. Students collected drinking water samples from schools and residential areas and tested for contamination and impurities. Senior professors like Dr Athale and Dr Borkar from Bandodkar college, and Leena Phadke and Varsha Shukla from Ruia college among others guided the students in the projects. "People think that NGOs and environment organisations act only during Ganpati festival. But that’s not true. We carry out community projects throughout the year. All projects carried out by students under Science Square address issues of social relevance," said Dighe.

Well known sci-fi author Carl Sagan said, "We live in a society exquisitely dependent on science and technology, in which hardly anyone knows anything about science and technology." There is no doubt that greater scientific awareness in the society will lead to better use of scientific research, discoveries and innovations. Students must be given adequate opportunities to learn science the practical way instead mugging concepts from books. Theory can go only so far, but real learning happens out there in the real world. Initiatives such as Science Square can go along way in raising the scientific quotient of the society at large.

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