A couple of school children are awestruck when they hear music as they move their hands over a bunch of hollow tubes. They can hear eight different swaras (‘Sa Re Ga Ma Pa Dha Ni Sa’) despite there being no physical contact with any musical instrument! This music is actually produced through infra red rays released by the hand, which then connect to the musical notes of corresponding frequency.
A few other students walk together into a dark room, and see a bright flash of light. A few seconds later, their shadows are frozen on one of the walls. The theory of phosphorescence is at work.
Younger kids are fascinated by an infinitely deep well. This effect is caused by placing an image of a well between two parallel mirrors, causing repetitive reflections.
With exhibits such as these, the Regional Science Centre on Avanashi Road (near CODISSIA) is a treasure trove of information for children and adults.
The mechanism of things used in everyday life, such as zippers, bar code readers, locks, brakes, gears and pulleys are explained through interactive charts in English and Tamil. Visitors can touch and feel the mechanism at work. They can then take quizzes to affirm if they’ve understood it right.
“There is a scientific, rational explanation to everything, including what we encounter in our day-to-day lives. The aim is to break the perception that science and math are elitist,” says T.M. Alagiri Swamy Raju, director-in-charge of the centre. He whips out a piece of paper, holds it close to his lips and blows in an upward motion. The paper moves towards the stream of air, and looks elevated. This is one of Bernoulli’s principles.
The Centre, which was launched on July 14, has been explaining concepts using simple materials to Government and Corporation schools too. Three hundred exhibits spread across the 6.7-acre campus explain concepts of science and math, apart from history and the making of textiles. A 3D theatre screens science films and an inflatable dome planetarium sheds light on stars and constellations.
There is also a lush green park outside, spread over 12,000 sq km, with many exhibits meant for younger children. The busts of eight eminent Indian scientists are on display at the park entrance.
Children solve puzzles and use science kits to work on their own experiments. At the Centre, they also get a chance to meet and interact with top scientists and medical experts. Among the other activities in the pipeline are origami, quizzes, summer camps, special sky observation programmes and workshops for teachers.
A visit to the Science Centre serves as both a fun trip and a learning experience for the children. “All scientific concepts have been explained in a transparent manner. The chidren’s recent interaction with the Chief Controller of the Defence and Research Development Organisation (DRDO), A. Sivathanu Pillai, proved to be an eye opener and a great learning experience,” says A. Ramadoss, principal, ABC MHSS, Peelamedu.
For details, call: 0422-2573025 and 2570325.
The Regional Science Centre, constructed by the National Council of Science Museums (NCSM), is a joint initiative of the Central and State Governments.
It is the fourth centre in Tamil Nadu after Chennai, Vellore and Tiruchi.
The entry fee is Rs. 15 for children under 12 and Rs. 25 for adults. The fee is inclusive of charges for the 3D theatre.