Bringing ISRO to children, this Pune-based organisation is bridging the gap between theory and practiceSirisha Damarla
Aimed at dissolving the gap between our theoretical and practical knowledge, Indo Science Education Trust has been dedicating its efforts to create a generation of innovative thinkers.
Science is for those creative minds that believe ‘Nothing is impossible to a willing heart’. We, Indians have been exposed to the various developments in science all over the world but we fall behind because of the wide gap between theoretical and practical knowledge built by our education system. Bridging this gap and arming our children with the right skillset to take India forward is exactly what Indo Science is directed at.
“In ancient times, we used to be a country of inventors and innovators, but while adopting the Western education system, we forgot the values of our ancient systems that made us great,” says Prashant Dobriyal, Vice-President of Indo Science Education Trust.
He continues to say, “We’ve also stripped the modern systems of the parts that encouraged development of scientific thinking and thus are left only with the bare subsistence level of science education in schools. Firstly, we need to give equal importance and time for hands-on, real experiences in science and theoretical knowledge. Secondly, we need to have activities based on current technology and not just basic sciences. Science develops so fast that any academic book is outdated as soon as it is written.”
Knowing the missing element in our education system, Prashant started Indo Science five years ago, along with his partner Santosh Pise, as a simple science activity in Pune. It has since then grown into a visionary organization that has been teaching children to think scientifically, logically and creatively, cultivating them into tomorrow’s scientists.
Indo Science, during its years of growth, has organized many science workshops, robotic workshops, educational trips and science competitions.
The science workshops gave the children an opportunity to experience concepts taught in class in a practical way. Not only did this allow them to enjoy the chance to play and compete with each other, but also develop a better understanding of the concepts of science.
Fancy cars, airplanes, and boats that can be controlled from a distance have captured the attention of children since the day they entered the market. From Sci-Fi stories to reality, robotics has come a long way and is starting to become a part of our daily lives. Robotics workshops have been dedicated to teaching children how to build machines to simplify our work.
Surrounding children with inspiring and motivating environments helps mould them into inspirational individuals. The educational visits were organised to take children out of their classrooms to the places where the magic of science can be seen. These places are generally science centers, modern industries, and institutes of scientific research and development. These include the major ISRO centers - Ahmedabad (where satellite payload like cameras and sensors are made), Bengaluru (where satellites are assembled), Thiruvananthapuram (where rockets (launch vehicles) are made) and Sriharikota (From where launch vehicles are launched).
One of Indo Science’s first activities was to bring an international science competition to small towns and even rural Maharashtra. In the first year of the competition, more than 45,000 students participated, competing with the students of the top schools across the country and 14 other countries.
The ‘How and Why’ show
Everybody enjoys magic shows, especially children. However, many are unaware of the science behind the magic tricks. The ‘How and Why’ show by Indo Science is essentially a magic show that discloses the secrets of the magician in a scientific way.
The Space Club of India
People generally look at space sciences as a career option much after college. Our children aren’t given enough opportunities to get excited and involved in the field, which is completely not the case in countries leading in space sciences. Feeling the need to lend a hand to help India advance, the Space Club of India was developed under the advice of a group of veteran ISRO scientists, STEMSI. The club involves children in the past, present and future of space sciences as we know it. The members of the club are regularly informed about the happenings, are involved in activities and competitions, and are exposed to space related institutions and people. The Space Club even has its own e-newsletter called spAce Magazine that acts as a knowledge source for the members of the club.
A short-term target set by the Space Club is to launch a satellite that has been developed by school students.
“In schools, the most common scenario witnessed is this: books are the main targets and teaching aids are only a support system, if at all. With ISET approaching me with their various activities focused on learning by doing, to me it meant tables turning upside down. The focus shifted from books to hands-on activities. Science teaching has become more fun, concepts more clear, education process much faster. I have also taken the help of ISET in organizing workshops for my teachers so that the practical approach is shared by many. Lately, ISET is working on the Space Club, a project in association with ISRO, to motivate students to take part in space science-related activities. I am extremely glad to be associated with ISET,” says Renuka Merchant, Principal of Shivaji English Medium School, Saswad.
National Space and Science Fest (NSSFest)
Giving students a platform to educate and immerse themselves in space sciences, ISRO sent its mobile space exhibition to Pune for the first time in 2016. The three day exhibition was jointly organised by ISRO and the city-based NGO Indo Science Education Trust. Many more similar events are in the pipeline, for which Indo Science Education Trust is raising funds through crowdfunding.
This year, the National Space and Science Fest, held at SM Joshi College, Hadapsar between January 27 and 29, saw a large number of school students turn up with their teachers and parents. The students were fascinated by the large number of informative panels about ISRO history and technology and the models of rockets and satellites. The knowledge on space sciences was shared by ISRO scientists through student volunteers. The volunteers not only explained the exhibits but also managed all aspects of administration of the exhibition.