Tag: Science and Technology

Have fun and learn too!

Have fun and learn too!

It’s that time of the year when students enrol for various workshops, camps and short-term activities that keep them gainfully occupied through the vacations. In keeping with the trends, city-based student-welfare NGO Jidnyasa is organising three science workshops, for different age groups.

Science is not merely a subject, the workshops aim to prove. These workshops will enable students to grasp the importance of science in daily life. They will attempt to explain to students how science touches every aspect of our existence. Called Hasre Vidyan or "Fun with Science," these camps intend to generate an interest in science that goes beyond textbooks, through simple experiments/observations that demonstrate basic scientific principles. The objective is dual – fun and learning. Surendra Dighe, Founder of Jidnyasa, says, "We want to show students how mothers are the best scientists and kitchens, the best laboratories. The best way to learn and appreciate science is to see it work in our everyday lives."

The first workshop, for age group of seven to nine years will be held from 14 to 17 April, for three hours daily, between 9 am and 12 am. Participants will be exposed to "kitchen experiments." They will explore basic phenomena such as dilution, solvency, water and salt solutions, concentration etc.

For the age group of 10 to 12 years, which will be held from 18 to 24 April every afternoon, the agenda will be slightly more complicated, though the fun element will remain, For example, principles of physics such as the difference between same weight but different volume and same volume but different weight and the why’s and how’s of it will be explained.

The third workshop will be for senior school students, between ages of 12 to 15 years, and will be held from 25 April to May 01. These students will be taught slightly advanced principles, involving application of science to everyday life, for instance, how domestic appliances, both electronic and electrical, work; how to maintain them and even repair them and so on. These students will also be taken to a few factories in the city for a first hand feel of a real workplace.

The instructors at the workshops will comprise of science teachers and actual professionals. For instance, one medical doctor, say, a heart surgeon or an orthopaedic specialist, will conduct an hour-long session called "Know your Body" to help participants understand the basic biological aspects of existence. Similarly, for domestic appliance maintenance and repair, professionally trained electricians and electronic engineers have been invited.

These fun-and-learn sessions will be held at "Exploratory," the science laboratory project that Jidnyasa set up with the help of TMC a few months ago. It is situated at Municipal School no 12, Tembhi Naka, Opp Sujoy Hotel. Students interested in enrolling for these workshops may call 25403857.

Buy the best you can

Buy the best you can

When deciding to buy a PC, it is easy to get fooled by the tempting offers that computer sellers make. Therefore, before you make an investment in your new PC, it’s a good idea to scan the market and find the best options within your budget instead of simply getting carried away by a free Printer, scanner or a Web Camera.

Most home PCs are used for general tasks like word processing, spreadsheet, home finance, some basic windows games, e-mails, browsing the Internet and listening to music. So look for a mid-range PC with high performance.

The two key factors that determine the performance of your PC are the processor and the memory. The processor governs the speed at which your PC processes information, which is measured in Gigahertz (GHz). The memory, also known as RAM (Random Access Memory) is where your computer stores the information while it works. Like the processor, RAM also determines the speed of your computer, albeit in a different way. RAM is measured in megabytes (MB).

The hard disk is another key determinant of your PC’s performance. Hard disk space is measured in Gigabytes (GB). A 40 GB Hard Disk is more than sufficient for most people.

Since you’ll be staring at the monitor for hours, it’s important to make sure that you get one that’s comfortable on your eyes. Monitors come in sizes ranging from 14" to 21". We suggest you go in for a 17" monitor as the difference in price from a 15" one is only marginal.

When you buy a branded PC, you will receive integrated peripherals like keyboard, mouse, floppy disk drive and CD-ROM drive as part of the standard equipment. A 56K external fax modem is a must if you wish to connect to the Internet the old fashioned way – using a telephone line. You can also use it for sending faxes.

Once you zero in on the options, follow this general rule: and you won’t regret: buy the most powerful computer your budget allows. If you’re short on cash, put off buying those fancy gadgets or that printer if you will, but do not cut corners on the main system unit – processor, memory, hard disk and monitor. You can always add other contraptions later, when you have spare money. Remember, you will use your PC for at least 2 or 3 years, maybe more and you definitely don’t want to find yourself running out of disk space or memory in the first few weeks of your using it.

Some brands bundle gadgets like the web camera, hi-fi speakers, CD Writer or DVD-ROM drive to make the offer attractive. Although a CD writer can come in handy for copying large files and taking back ups of important files, the rest of devices should be considered only if there cash left over after you take care of the main components.

Some people buy a PC because it looks attractive. Remember, a PC’s performance has very little to do with its looks. Therefore, do not invest in a machine simply because it looks good.

Finally, carefully read through the terms and conditions of the warranty and after sales service policy of the seller. How much free support do you get when you buy this PC? Is the warranty onsite, or will you have to take your PC to the service centre? Make sure the terms and conditions suit you.

Keep in mind

  • When taking the delivery of your computer, insist on driver CDs for all the hardware – particularly the mainboard, display card and sound card (also known as motherboard)
  • Prevent electrical voltage fluctuations – use a voltage stabiliser or at least a spike guard for supplying power to your PC
Dialling Despair

Dialling Despair

Mobile phones have made travelling by train noisier than ever before. Cell phones do not stop ringing and commuters do not stop talking. Those of you who travel regularly by suburban trains have surely encountered co-passengers talking loudly into their phone about big business deals. And it’s not just the people talking loudly that causes annoyance, it’s also the weird ring tones based on the latest Bollywood hits. What’s more, each time there’s ring or a beep, which happens invariably almost every 10 seconds, everybody around who carries a cell phone checks to see if it was their cell phone that is buzzing.
Cell phone woes do not end here. If you happen to carry a cell phone and commute by train, be discrete about it or someday soon, you may have to lend your phone to a fellow traveller to make a call or two.

The other day a lady colleague, a Thane resident, was travelling back from work in a Thane-bound local. The train came to a halt before Kanjurmarg Station – the usual two-minute halt for signal, people thought.   But when the train refused to move even after 20 minutes, discomfort among people grew. Seeing trains moving freely on other tracks, some began to speculate that the train had probably developed a technical snag and would therefore probably not move for a long time. It was nearing 10 pm and our colleague, who was in the ladies compartment, was approached by an anxious looking young college student. She looked very reluctant at first, but finally managed to request our friend for allowing her to make a call using her cell phone. Our friend obliged and the girl called her folks to inform them about her being stranded in the train. She also asked her father to pick her up from the station as it would probably become late by the time she’ll reach Thane. No sooner did she finish talking than the train started. After a couple of minutes, the girl again approached our friend, wanting to make another call – this time, to tell her folks that the train has started and they need to bother to pick her up. Our friend accommodated her second request too.

When it rains, it pours. As if kindness is written all over her face, the next day our colleague once again received a request to allow a call to be made from her cell phone – this time from an elderly lady. Compassionate that she is, our friend helped yet again. The lady spoke for less than 30 seconds in which she informed the person at the other end (speaking in Gujarati) that she’ll be reaching her destination in half an hour. After the call, the lady bowled our friend over by asking her how much she should pay for the call. She even offered the standard three-rupees-per-call to our bewildered friend who, politely declined, trying her best not look embarrassed.

Modern technology has its uses – it’s made a huge difference to our lives. But then roses always come with thorns.

Just Do it!

Just Do it!

Every major scientific innovation can be attributed to imagination. And science experiments need not be restricted to laboratories. As Ralph Waldo Emerson said, "Science does not know its debt to imagination." With a little imagination and observation, one can experiment and explore anywhere.

Besides preparing their students for good grades in exams, effective science teachers also develop students’ scientific bent and imagination capabilities. This was the essence of a two-day workshop science teachers and students conducted by eminent scientist, science activist and educator Samar Bagchi who was in the city last week. The workshop was held at the Shiv Samarth Vidyalaya, near Rangayatan. While the first day was exclusively for science teachers, the second day saw both students and teachers participating. 90 teachers and 200 students from 12 schools from across the district participated in the workshop.

Last month we had written about Children’s Science Movement initiated by Prof. VG Bhide from Pune and how a few teachers from city schools had visited Pune to learn better ways of imparting science education. Bagchi’s workshop was also part of the Children’s Science Movement, organised in Thane by Jidnyasa Trust.

The objective of the workshop was to expose school science teachers to the various aspects of science and technology for better understanding and building scientific disposition. Bagchi emphasised the urgent importance of teaching science the practical way in order to make students more inquisitive, besides developing their mind at an early age. In his opinion, mere theoretical concepts do not do justice to a subject such as science which offers with never-ending possibilities to a scientist.

At one instance, Bagchi used the traditional glass water experiment – that of turning the glass upside down without spilling the water. He used a cardboard like material that is a little bigger than the opening of the glass and placed it over the top of the glass and carefully turned the glass upside down. The water stayed inside. Then he released the cardboard but it still stuck to the glass, holding in the water. Surprisingly, when he asked teachers to explain the phenomenon, they could not come up with a convincing explanation.

The senior scientist stressed on the importance of demonstrations and strongly advised against dependence on bookish knowledge alone. In fact, both teachers and students seemed pretty impressed with the lucid way he taught certain astronomical concepts – the why’s, what’s and how’s of movement of planets, their orbits and their relationship with Earth. He also employed interactive games and puzzles to teach some mathematical concepts and suggested to teachers that they too must employ innovative methods of teaching.

Being aware that many schools lacked basic infrastructure like laboratory equipment, Bagchi urged students to try carrying out experiments at home using everyday items. In other words, he suggested the use of imagination and urged the students to just do it.

Teacher’s Day Out

Teacher’s Day Out

Science education plays an important role in the area of technological development. Unfortunately, most schools and colleges in our country are highly apathetic towards teaching science. There is no dearth of talent in India. We have many bright and intellectual kids who, given the right guidance and opportunities, can achieve unimagined progress in the field of science and technology.

Perhaps the problem lies in the excessive bent towards theoretical approach to teaching science. Science can be effectively taught only through practical methods such as experimentation, demonstration and exploration. Without these, science becomes just another school subject, to be learnt by rote and forgotten after the exams. Taught in the right manner, science develops the curiosity of children, enhances their creativity and develops in them a propensity to innovate and to excel.

A certain professor V G Bhide, former vice-chancellor of the University of Pune, realised a need for improvement in the area of imparting science education. So he started a movement called the Children’s Science Movement and established a place known as Exploratory. Exploratory is a place where children can explore and discover, innovate and invent, design and fabricate. Exploratory is neither a school laboratory nor a museum. It is a place where children can explore and discover. Exploratory has been designed to excite curiosity, communicate a sense of excitement in doing science, impart computational and communication skills, nourish and nurture creativity and innovativeness. It is a place where children discover for themselves, without being formally taught the basic laws and the concepts underlying them and learn how these concepts underlie various technological innovations.

Exploratory believes that teachers play a critical role in the educational system. Last week, 21 city teachers from various schools and junior colleges grabbed the opportunity to visit Pune for an orientation programme in teaching science the Exploratory way. The visit was organised by Jidnyasa Trust with the objective of building the scientific temperament of teachers and students through encouraging the hands-on approach to scientific problems and challenges.

At the University of Pune’s Physics Department, the teachers learnt about various projects undertaken by the University such as non-conventional energy systems, solar energy systems and so on. Later the teachers were taken to the Centre for Development of Advanced Computing (C-DAC) where they were shown India’s PARAM series of super-computers developed by Dr. Vijay P. Bhatkar, chairman ETH (Education To Home) Research Labs.

The group was then escorted to the Inter-University Centre for Astronomy and Astrophysics (IUCAA), an autonomous institution set up by the University Grants Commission to promote nucleation and growth of active groups in Astronomy and Astrophysics in Indian universities. IUCAA aims at being a centre for excellence within the university sector for teaching, research and development in Astronomy and Astrophysics.

When asked about her feedback, Pranita Medhi from People’s Education Society School in Thane, who was one of the participants of the orientation programme, replied, "As most science teachers work in isolation, this was a great opportunity for science teachers from city to meet, interact and share ideas with each other – it doesn’t happen very often." She also found interacting with a distinguished Professor like Bhide highly motivating. She added, "Before teachers can motivate and inspire children, we have to be motivated ourselves. Meeting people like Prof. Bhide and learning about the advancement in the sphere of science and technology gave an added boost to my interest in the subject." Many other teachers shared this view and agreed that the orientation visit will help them teach more effectively.

Another participant, Suresh Jhangle from Saraswati Secondary High School, thinks that from this visit he learned how to develop a scientific perspective among his students. He particularly liked the many examples that Prof. Bhide gave while discussing Exploratory with them.

These teachers are now all set to lead our city students into becoming better at science by encouraging them to come up with practical solutions to everyday problems. And their first challenge is to propose a design for a non-polluting, fuel-efficient, cheap and easy to drive vehicle for travelling from the over-crowded Thane Railway Station into the city". Any takers?

Touch a Scientist and You Touch a Child

Touch a Scientist and You Touch a Child

Earlier this year we wrote about the Annual Children’s Science Congress that is organised by National Council for Science & Technology Communication (NCSTC) and how last year, a city school had created a record by sending the most number of entries from single school. Another national record for Thane at last year’s Congress was that seven of its projects reached the final round – the maximum from any one city at the level of the national convention.

For those readers who are unaware, NCSTC is an apex organisation of the Government of India that endeavours to popularise science and technology by stimulating scientific and technological disposition. NCSTC has been founded by Ministry of Science and Technology, Government of India. The State Science Council of all the States along with prominent NGOs working in the field of science are the members of this organisation.

The results of the first elimination round for this year’s congress were declared on October 02, 2003 at the New English High School at Ram Maruti Road. As many as 65 projects were submitted from 14 city schools.

This year’s theme, like last year, is "Food Systems towards Nutrition for all." The first round was judged by prominent people from the foods and nutrition industry. Food technologists, dieticians, medical practitioners, academicians and food manufacturing professionals were among the 15 judges who selected 24 projects for the district level which will be held in ShreeRang Vidyala in Thane on November 15, 2003. At the district level, 12 projects will be selected to participate at the State Level Congress which will be held on December 06 and 07 at Barshi, Sholapur.

Judging by the entries that the organisers have received so far, there is no reason why students from Thane will not repeat last year’s splendid performance. In fact, so impressed is Surendra Dighe with one project from ShreeRang Vidyalaya English, that he has decided to sent it to the Intel Science Fair also. The topic of this project is "Improvement in Food Production" while its sub-topic is "Improvement in Food Production through Bio-Seed Dressing Method." The title of the project is "To study the effect of Bio-Seed Dressing on the growth, yield and quality of Crop." While the group project leader is Zeeshan Sayyed, its members are Niteesh Kulkarni, Vrishi Patil, Rucha Vakhariya, Prajakta Dhamorikar. The guide teacher is Shweta Sawant.

The group seemed to have worked rather hard on the project. They collected various materials such as Neem seed powder, Neem leaves powder, Custard apple seed powder and so on. They visited various villages to observe the methods of plantation of bhendi ((Lady Fingers) and also to collect information regarding fertilizers, pesticides and so on. They analysed their data from various sources and began to dress the seeds of bhendi in their school lab and planted the same in the background of their school. After observations they concluded that treated seeds show more resistance to pests than untreated ones. They firmly believe that "bio-pesticides used for seed dressing are promising, cheap, eco-friendly, will help the farmers to depend less on chemicals and also help increase productivity."

Dighe, who serves on the national governing body of the NCSTC, says "Thane has a lot of talented students and with proper guidance, can go places." If recent reports are any indications, Dighe is bang on target. Thane’s Maithili Dalvi from Sulochanadevi Singhania School was one of the 12 award-winning students from all over India, who were selected through national trials, and had participated in the annual Intel Science and Engineering Fair (ISEF) in Cleveland, Ohio in May. They were part of 1300-odd students from 35 countries, who exhibited their award-winning science projects at the annual Fair.

American Writer Ray Bradbury once said, "Touch a scientist and you touch a child." His words certainly apply to the Thane’s young scientists.

Watch this space for updates on the performance of city students as the Science Congress reaches its culmination between December 27 and December 31, 2003 at Lucknow.



It is a known fact that computers are the number one cause of eyestrain. But why only eyestrain, computers have been guilty of various other health issues. Over a period of time, excessive computer use can have cumulative negative effects on the user including the worsening of eyesight, astigmatism, eye-focusing disorders and poor eye coordination. In addition, constant working from a set position can cause neck and shoulder stiffness, as well as stress headaches, which can then cause pain in the jaw.

Some studies estimate that 90 per cent of all individuals using computers for more than 3 hours per day experience Computer Vision Syndrome (CVS) in some form.

But it is also a fact that these hi-tech processing machines have become indispensable. So, given that we cannot escape computers, we must learn to live with them. And helping residents of Thane city in this learning process is the Ghantali Mitra Mandal (GMM), a city-based group that organises workshops and seminars for the benefit of the residents. GMM also runs a yoga institute. Under the guidance of Yogacharya ShriKrishna Vyavahare, the GMM Yoga Institute recently conducted a two-week long workshop on CVS.
Sujata Bhide, one of the guides in the programme says, "In just two weeks, the participants showed such a marked improvement in their quality of vision. Blurriness and strain had reduced – so had headaches and backaches." The measure of success was based on the assessment by two city-based ophthalmologists, Dr. Vavikar and Dr. Gadgil, who examined the participants both before and after the workshop.

The response was so good that it prompted GMM to organise another episode of the workshop which began on July 14, earlier this week. At the workshop, five guides Dr. Ulka Natu, Sujata Bhide, Vidya Kunte, Sunanda Joshi and Arvind Bhave coach the participants in the yoga methods including meditation techniques that directly address the specific problems associated with computer fatigue.

"Computing is not about computers any more. It is about living," claims Nicholas Negroponte, Professor of Media Technology at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology in USA. The professor should know – after all, he lives with these machines.

Fact File
Here are a few tips from experts that may help you reduce computer-related fatigue:

  • Set up your computer correctly. The proper viewing distance is 20-24 inches. The correct viewing angle is 10 to 20 degrees from the mid-screen to the top of the screen.
  • Use a good monitor – usually the higher the resolution, the better.
  • Do eye exercises every 30 minutes.
  • Use proper posture – a straight upper back with feet flat on the ground.
  • Ensure appropriate illumination. The room should not be more than three times brighter than the screen.
  • Adjust screen brightness and contrast properly.
  • Keep your wrists relatively straight while typing. Wrist support pads can be very helpful. Support your elbows too, to prevent shoulder tension.
  • And finally, take frequent five-minute breaks to stretch your back, neck, hands and legs.
Sprouting Scientific Minds

Sprouting Scientific Minds

As the new academic year begins, it’s time for students to get involved in various supplementary activities that facilitate their all-round development. And the scientifically inclined among the students look forward to the National Council for Science & Technology Communication (NCSTC) organises the Children’s Science Congress.

NCSTC is an apex organisation of the Government of India that endeavours to popularise science and technology by stimulating scientific and technological disposition. NCSTC has been founded by Ministry of Science and Technology, Government of India. The State Science Council of all the States along with prominent NGOs working in the field of science are the members of this organisation.

The Children’s Science Congress is an annual national event that culminates at the end of the year with participation from all the states in India. Meritorious and innovative projects are 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 across India. The number of schools participating has been growing with each year. 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.

Like last year, the focal theme selected for this year’s congress is "Food Systems towards Nutrition for all" and sub-themes are:

  1. Production and improvement in food and animal husbandry
  2. Storage of agricultural produce
  3. Traditional Knowledge and Modern Technology
  4. Animal husbandry for financial stability
  5. Nutrition & Nutritional requirements
  6. Food Safety and Food adulteration

Last year, Thane city created a record with as many as seven of its projects reaching level of the national convention of the Congress. Another national record for Thane at last year’s Congress was that one of its schools, the Saraswati Secondary School, sent 48 entries to the Congress – the highest number of entries from any single school! "We have loads of talent in our city. I don’t see any reason why city students would not repeat the excellent performance this year too," asserts Surendra Dighe who is the state coordinator for the Congress. Dighe was recently elected on the national governing body of the NCSTC. He is the managing trustee of the city-based Jidnyasa Trust, which is actively involved in welfare of students.

Students who wish to participate can form groups of three to five. Each group is expected to work on the field and use scientific methods to collect, analyse and interpret data. On the basis of their, findings they would then write a thesis in about five hundred to seven hundred words. At the District Congress presentation, which will be held October 02, 2003, the group leader will present the project in eight minutes, followed by a question-answer session that will last for seven minutes. The winning projects would be sent to the State Level Congress.

The state level Congress will be held in two parts – November 29 and 30, 2003 in western Maharashtra and December 06 and 07, 2003 in Vidarbha & Marathwada. The Big Finals – the National Children’s Science Congress – will be held between December 27 and December 31, 2003 at Lucknow.

For those interested, the last date for submitting the forms is August 30, 2003. For further details, please contact the Jidnyasa Trust on 25403857.

Whizkids India

Whizkids India

As we approach the National round of Children’s Science Congress, Thane has reason to be proud. Out of the 15 projects selected to represent Maharashtra State at this national convention, seven have been prepared by city students. And this is no mean feat, considering the fact that over 800 projects entries were sent at the district level convention and 80 were selected for the state level convention.

This is first time that seven projects from one city have been selected for the national convention of the Children Science Congress, since it began in 1993. Another national record for Thane is that one of its schools, the Saraswati Secondary School, sent 48 entries to the Congress – the highest number of entries from any single school. While declaring the results, State Convener of the Congress, Surendra Dighe said, "This is a great achievement for Thane city and Thaneites should be proud of it"

To give you an idea of how painstakingly each project is developed, consider the project tilted "Anaemia" that was developed by Nachiket Kulkarni and his group from Saraswati Secondary School under the guidance of their teacher Suresh Jungle.

Their project revolved around the broad area of Food Management and Nourishment for All. In this light, they decided to study the food habits of financially backward boys aged between 10 and 14 years. The group prepared questionnaire and recorded the responses of 50 students selected randomly from TMC school no. 18 located in Dharamveer nagar and Sathewadi in Thane. With the help of the popular pathologist Dr. Gupte, they organised a blood investigation campaign for all the 50 students. Based on the blood report, specifically the haemoglobin count, the group concluded that the out of 50 children, 33 were anaemic and 21 of these were perilously anaemic.

Then, in order to verify their results, the group conducted similar investigations among 18 children belonging to the middle-income category and found that five of these were anaemic too. The group concluded that it is not just poverty, but also ignorance, that causes these boys to be malnourished.

The group then organised orientation programme to guide the children and parents, wherein experts were called in to speak. The experts suggested a number of "low-cost, high nutrition" alternatives to these financially deprived people so that their children derive all the necessary nutrients from their regular meals.

A number of voluntary organisation support the Congress in many ways specifically in developing activity books, organising training workshops for guide teachers, evaluating the research projects and coordinating the district and state level conventions. In Thane, Jidnyasa Trust is the organisation that that convenes the Congress at the state level.

The state level convention was held on November 30 and December 01 and was inaugurated by senior scientist and former vice-chancellor of University of Pune V G Bhide.

The National convention will be held later this month between December 27 and December 31 in Mysore. The President of India APJ Abdul Kalam will inaugurate the convention. Kalam is certainly the best individual to inaugurate this convention which will honour bright, young boys and girls.

Once, when Bharat Ratna winner Kalam was the Principal Scientific Advisor to the Government of India, he was called to attend a function. On his way out of the building, Dr. Abdul Kalam was approached by a group of awed students, one of who said "Dr. Kalamji, I want to become a scientist." The doctor answered with a question of his own. "Do you have a piece of paper?" The student eagerly retrieved paper and pen, ready to record the advice of this esteemed scientist. Dr. Abdul Kalam continued, "Write this down. Dream, dream, dream. Think, think, think. And then put that thought into action, action, action. OK?"

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.