City boy T.S. Karthik wins in the Space Science category at Young Scientist-Tamil Nadu 2013

As a child, T.S. Karthik’s favourite activity was playing with building blocks and tinkering with the mechanic engineering set at home. He also loved watching rockets zoom into the sky, courtesy Discovery Channel. When he travelled by air, he would sit by the window, observing the working of the wing flaps.

This year, all his passions worked in tandem to ensure he topped the Space Science category at Young Scientist-Tamil Nadu 2013, organised by Space Kidz India, Chennai.

Karthik, a Class VIII student of SBOA, Coimbatore, created a space plane using his mechanic engineering set and plastic boards. He remembered how an airplane flew and went back to the programmes he watched on TV to create a model that would be fuel efficient too. “I was designing a crane with my mechanic set. I heard about the competition at school. It was my first time in a competition. So, I dismantled the crane and started designing the plane,” he says. The model incorporates a compression lift that allows the plane to take off without consuming much fuel. “I learnt about it from my aviation encyclopaedia,” he explains.

Karthik designed the model on paper and took two hours and about 50 nuts and bolts to create his space plane. Vaidehi Ganesan of IGCAR judged the space sciences category and “liked what I did”, he says.

“Now, I’m famous at school. My friends are very happy and I want to take part in more contests,” he smiles. Anything he learnt from the competition? “I learnt to speak with confidence.”

Soon, Karthik will join the other winners on visits to research centres to interact with scientists. Karthik competed with students from across the State at the Chennai finals. They were judged based on a written quiz, project presentation and an extempore speech. Reshan of Sankara Vidhyalaya, Chennai, clinched the title.

Karthik’s mother Anuradha Subramaniam recalls her son’s love for building blocks. He once built a rocket with a launch pad. Seeing his interest, their neighbour Malarvizhi Selvaraj took him to ISRO, Sriharikota when he was in Class III.

Karthik dreams of becoming a pilot someday. But, for now, he just wants to complete his crane!