The classroom with 80 students resembles a nursery that is used to raise healthy saplings. Just as the young plants are watered and cared for, the faculty handling the Young Student Scientist Programme (YSSP) at the Kongunadu Arts and Science College are teaching science to groom the students into young scientists.
The college is conducting the 20-day summer camp in association with the Tami Nadu State Council for Science and Technology. The aim is “ to identify students who secure high marks in science subjects and provide them exposure to the scientific environment of the higher educational institutions,” says a council release.
Accordingly, the college wrote to schools in the Nilgiris and Coimbatore districts asking them to send two class nine students who perform well in science. Twenty-five schools responded, some enthusiastically sending more than two students.
M. Lekeshmanaswamy, co-ordinator, YSSP, says the programme has got 80 ‘saplings' which will be nurtured in the basics and latest in science and technology. And, just a week into the camp the results are already showing.
S. Koowshik Sharan of GRG Matriculation Higher Secondary School says he is enjoying the programme. “It is good in that I am learning things outside the syllabus, being encouraged to think out of the box and in different dimensions as well.”
K. Baranipriya of Corporation Girls' Higher Secondary School, Ramakrishnapuram, says the biggest plus of the programme is that they are not studying for marks. “There is no pressure on us, students, or the faculty, as the teaching happens mainly to help us understand and appreciate science and we too enjoy the same.”
The teaching happens as if a story is narrated and so the students enjoy as if they are listening to one, quips K.C. Preetha of Sri Rangasamy Naidu Higher Secondary School. The students are happy with the theory part of the camp and overwhelmed with the practical sessions. Many State Government-run school students say they are thrilled seeing labs and handling equipment for the first time.
K. Akila of Corporation Girls' Higher Secondary School, Ramakrishnapuram, says she learnt about the use of ‘hepafilter' and now is nurturing an idea to use something similar to reduce pollution. “I'll pursue the dream soon,” she exudes confidence.
The camp has done wonder for other students, especially from Government institutions. “We got to open e-mail accounts for the first time in our lives,” students say in delight. This was on the day computer science was taught.
This is the very purpose of the programme, reiterates Mr. Lekeshmanaswamy. “We want students to enjoy science, feel thrilled about experiments and have thirst to know more.” To further encourage the students the faculty have asked called for essays on topics of their choice and best essays there from will be rewarded. They have also organised elocution in Tamil and English and a science exhibition.
Keywords: Young Student Scientist Programme