There was excitement in the air at Vel's University, the private institution in Pallavaram hosting the 18th annual National Children's Science Congress. Boys and girls from some states were making their first train journey and for most, it was their first journey to the south of India.

Jaya, a class VIII student of St. Francis School in Deoghar, Jharkhand, lost no time in making friends in the host institution and from other states. She is here along with 15 other students from Jharkhand and her project is on “Waste, wastes the land of Deoghar.”

“Chennai is a nice place. I have not seen the rest of the city but I feel at home here. The people, especially the students here are so friendly and I have already made a few friends,” she said. Accompanied by her guide teachers, Jaya would be making presentation about her project during the course of the five-day event that was inaugurated by Chief Minister M. Karunanidhi on Monday.

D.N.S. Anand, State Coordinator, Jharkhand, said he had attended such Children's Science Congress in the past too but what set Chennai apart were the meticulous arrangements, punctuality and discipline. Students and teachers from Jammu and Kashmir missed the inaugural function as their train arrived late. Poornadeep Singh, a class IX student of Air Force School and Shivani Manhas of Class X at Navin Vidya Mandir in Jammu are ready with their projects relating to problems caused by weeds to crops and waste management respectively. Sukhbir Kaur, a guide teacher, said Chennai's weather at present was pleasant and that the students and the rest felt at home.

Organisers said 560 students from all States and Union Territories, 200 guide teachers, 50 resource persons and 100 organisers from all over India had assembled at the venue. Apart from projects and paper presentations, there would be cultural programmes every evening with music and dance shows so that the students were exposed to the true cultural fabric of the country.