As part of its outreach activities, Disha was closely involved in coordinating the Jigyasa Science Camp at IISER Pune during December 18-22, 2012. It was a five-day camp for about 53 students of ninth standard from government schools in Dantewada district, Chhattisgarh. The event was proposed by Bachpan Banao, an educational fellowship program being implemented in government schools in Dantewada and was co-hosted and supported by Jnana Prabodhini, a non-governmental organization based out of Pune.
As Kaustubh Deshpande, student of IISER Pune and one of the organizers of the science camp puts it, “The objective of the camp was to give students exposure to what they lacked in Dantewada and to get them excited about science and education. The idea was to give them a flavor of various exciting fields in science; so, the emphasis was on hands-on activities and exposure visits.”
In keeping with this goal, Anirban Hazra (Faculty member, IISER Pune) conducted a hands-on demonstration session about Chemistry in daily life; Sadanand Kale (Aeromodeller, Little Wings India) led an engrossing session on airplane making where students made models of airplanes using material like thermocol; and Mayuresh Prabhune (Khagol Vishwa) helped students observe the moon and the Jupiter through a telescope.
Interactive talks on topics such as observing birds, astonishing aspects of astronomy, and nature-inspired technology were delivered by Dr. Satish Pande (Pune based ornithologist), Dr. Prakash Tupe (Confederation of Indian Amateur Astronomers Association) and Prof. Arvind Natu (Visiting Faculty Member, IISER Pune), respectively.
Students visited Sinhagad Valley, which is an hour’s drive from Pune, to return with specimen collected at Sinhagad and observed them under a microscope. Along similar lines, students performed basic science experiments designed by Vijnan Dal of Jnana Prabodhini on topics that they had only read about in text books in the past.
Students had an interactive session with Arvind Gupta at IUCAA, whose science toys are an all-time hit in renewing scientific temper in young and old alike. At Vigyan Ashram in Pabal, students worked on multiple short projects that were designed to raise awareness about the connection between science, technology and small scale entrepreneurship. Students visited a few small scale entrepreneurial ventures as well.
“The idea was to promote scientific approach and an appreciation for the methodology of science among students. Therefore, rather than presenting direct answers to their questions, the camp was designed to encourage and guide students to understand the scientific method of finding answers”, says Kalyani Katariya, an IT professional and one of the organizers of the camp.
During the concluding session students shared their thoughts on the camp and gave their feedback. Many felt that the Jigyasa Science Camp was memorable and motivational and that they are more excited and inspired about science and further education after their participation in the camp.