The Cochin University of Science and Technology has formed an advisory committee to formulate the integrated science programme for students who have passed Plus Two examination.

Cochin University of Science and Technology (Cusat) has embarked on an ambitious drive to promote science education in Kerala. ‘Catch them young' seems to be the mantra of the various initiatives being launched by the university in the recent times.

An integrated science programme for students coming out of the Plus Two programme is one of the major goals set by the university in this endeavour. If everything goes according to the plan, Cusat will become the first university in the State to launch such a course aimed at revamping science education in 2011.

The university has been inspired by the recommendations on re-structuring post-school science programmes in the country proposed by the three premier academic organisations including Indian Academy of Sciences (Bangalore), Indian National Science Academy (New Delhi) and the National Academy of Sciences (Allahabad). Cusat has formed an advisory committee headed by M. Anandakrishnan, Chairman of IIT, Kharagpur to come up with major recommendations on how to formulate the integrated science programme on the campus. Education Minister M. A. Baby had participated in a discussion held on the campus in March, where the proposal for the integrated science programme was discussed.

According to the concept paper on the proposed programme, the integrated science programme will provide for better time-management for teaching in a holistic manner compared to the 3+2 years of B.Sc. and M.Sc. degree programmes.

The course would permit a broad-based training (including in humanities or other fields of individual choice) of science graduates, which is essential for developing a true knowledge society, it said. The committee will come up with suggestions on the duration of the programme, which will lead to a PhD programme.

Cusat has also decided to encourage school students in the State to take up science programmes while pursuing their higher education by offering some interesting programmes for the youngsters.

The Science Talent Development Programme (STDP) offered by the Centre for Science in Society (C-SiS) on the campus aims at unravelling the mysteries of science in a simple and interesting manner.

A runaway hit among the students, the programme attracts hundreds of students from various parts of the State annually. STDP is a seven-week attachment of children to C-SiS, where a number of rare and innovative facilities to learn and understand science through observation and experimentation are displayed.

A science park; science pavilion; ‘see and believe' laboratories in physics, chemistry, biology and mathematics, mini workshop, computer laboratory, science library and a science-based toy laboratory are the facilities provided for children.

Students get an opportunity to do simple science experiments with the help of instructors at the centre. Education through multimedia computers using audio and video CDs and science films are other attractions at the centre.

Seminars, quizzes and mini projects are conducted for the participants. There are story-telling sessions and mini-quizzes.

Children are familiarised with innovative teaching gadgets and toys. C-SiS has over 90 gadgets that encourage children to experience the philosophy of ‘learn while you play'.

The library at the centre has a rare collection of about 7,000 popular science books and science journals. They can borrow science books available in the centre library. Students can also read several prestigious journals available at the library.

‘Chemistry made easy' is another major programme offered by the Department of Applied Chemistry at Cusat. Aimed at building up the science foundation in general and chemistry foundation in particular, the programme for high school students is a unique learning module initiated by the department. The idea is to revive the waning interest among students towards basic sciences.

Faculty members of the department will demonstrate all experiments given in the textbooks of Classes 8, 9 and 10, as part of the project. They will also explain the experiments using innovative techniques. Students are given a chance to do the experiments themselves.

The scientific interests of students will be monitored continuously till they pass out from Class X.

The programme will also facilitate simple presentation classes in general science and chemistry by eminent scholars.

It will also give chances to deserving students to interact with faculty members and research scholars in research laboratories of the department. Residential programmes will be conducted for not less than a week for each class. Students will be provided free accommodation, food and transportation allowances.

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