Scientifically Inclined

Scientifically Inclined

The National Council for Science & Technology Communication (NCSTC) is an apex organisation of the Government of India that endeavours to popularise science and technology by stimulating scientific and technological disposition. One of the activities of the NCSTC is the Children’s Science Congress. Meritorious and innovative projects selected for district congress, state congress and national convention. Each state also sends two delegates to the Annual Session of the Indian Science Congress.

The Congress is organised each year in almost all districts with more and more schools joining the activity. The Congress is an opportunity for brilliant young scientists (between 10 to 17 years of age) to:

  • work in teams under a guide on an identified theme
  • select a problem from the neighbourhood
  • develop a hypothesis and conduct field research
  • see patterns in data and prepare a report
  • present findings before peer group in one’s own language.

One such congress was held at Chimbipada, a village on the outskirts of Thane. City-based NGO Jignyasa Trust organised this Congress, which was sponsored by the Adivasi Vikas Mandal (Thane Division). The theme of the project was "Food system towards adequate nutrition to all". In all, 275 adivasi (tribal) students and 70 teachers participated from as many as 83 schools from around Thane and adjacent Districts.

Under the guidance of their teachers, the adivasi children prepared wonderful projects that covered a range of issues such as the typical adivasi diet, agricultural production, adivasi lifestyle, medicinal plants, storage of perishable food and transportation of food et cetera.

It was easy to make out that a lot of hard work had gone into each of the project presented. The judges too were impressed with the performance of these young brains. They were especially bowled over by the local dialect of these little ones and the way they presented their work. On one occasion, a judge asked why the trees around the village had names of students. A student quickly responded, "Each tree is planted by a child of the village and it belongs to that child. This child takes care of the tree, waters it and generally protects it. As the child grows, the tree grows also. Thus each tree is named after the individual who planted it."

Surendra Dighe, who was the chief guest at the event, said, "Each project was extraordinary in its own way especially considering that tribal children had worked it. Unfortunately, we could select only three projects for state level representation." The following projects were selected for the next level:

  1. "Food from Jungle Plants" by Bajrang Eelam
  2. "Food Grains – Processing, storage and distribution" by Shivram Dalvi
  3. "Nutritious food for adolescent girls" by Pratibha Chimte

Judging by the enthusiasm of the participants, we can say that the Children’s Science Congress is doing a great job of inspiring out-of-the box thinking in the students. After all, as Malcolm Forbes said, "Education’s purpose is to replace an empty mind with an open one."

Next week, we will discuss the state-level Congress, in which seven out of the 15 projects selected for the national round are by students from Thane city.

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