Bright higher secondary students could gain from INSPIRE 2010 (Innovation in Science Pursuit for Inspired Research), a six-day programme at the Bharathidasan University, excellent insights into how their role in broadening the base of science research would reflect in the nation's progress.

The purpose of the programme organised by the Department of Microbiology with funding from the Department of Science and Technology was to inculcate scientific temperament and attract students towards science research at a young age. At the inaugural, former Vice-Chancellor of Madras University S.P. Thyagarajan, who was the chief guest; Vice-Chancellor of Bharathidasan University M. Ponnavaikko and DST Advisor D.J. Samathanam motivated students to look at science research as a career option, and align their goals to the country's development.

They witnessed practical demonstrations at the departments of Microbiology, Physics, Chemistry and Geology departments as part of the programme. The students were impressed by the range of hi-tech equipments in the laboratories for High Pressure Fluid Dynamics, Nanotechnology, Mass Spectrometry, X-ray Crystallography, and Thermal cycler. They were also taken on institutional visits to the National Research Centre for Banana, State Institute for Hotel Management & Catering Technology, and Anna Planetarium.

Over the days, they listened to informative lectures by scientists from various fields like Physics, Chemistry, Microbiology, Marine Biology, Biotechnology, Remote Sensing and Statistics. The eminent scientists with whom they interacted included M. Lakshmanan, Professor and former Director, Centre for Non-Linear Dynamics, Bharathidasan University; K. Kathiresan, Professor of Marine Biology, Annamalai University; Arunachalam, Professor of Chemistry, Bharathidasan University; Shiv Mohan Singh, Scientist, National Centre for Polar and Oceanic Research; and A.S. Rao, School of Life Sciences, Bharathidasan University. Dr. Rao explained the various paradigms in science open to students after schooling.

The students exhibited appreciable enthusiasm in interacting with the speakers, who, on their part, were excited to dig deep into their knowledge base to answer the queries, according to Programme Coordinator and Department Head N. Thajuddin.

Addressing the valediction on Saturday, Pro Vice-Chancellor of Vel's University, Chennai, N. Anand, honoured students who had excelled in cultural events with mementos in the presence of S. Sridharan, Controller of Examinations, Bharathidasan University and P.M. Mansure, Principal, MIET College. Dr. Anand also felicitated high scorers in Plus Two among the participants on the occasion. “INSPIRE has ignited our minds. It was a fantastic opportunity to interact with scientists and gain a lot of knowledge,” said Abbirami, one of the participants. “I really enjoyed the sessions, especially the practical demonstrations which helped us gain insights into the latest technologies in research,” said Raja Mani, another participant.

Keywords: INSPIRE 2010science