On Friday, schoolchildren aged between 10 and 17 will compete with one another in displaying their scientific temperament at the district-level talent search for the 21s National Children’s Science Congress (NCSC) 2013 to be held in Bhopal from December 27 to 31.

The theme for this year’s NCSC is the same as that of last year — Energy: Explore, Harness and Conserve. Last year, a team of five children from Madurai found place among the 21 teams which were adjudged best at the national level. The team’s achievement has raised hopes this year.

According to M. Pandiarajan, secretary, Tamil Nadu Science Forum, a nodal agency for the NCSC here, students displaying the best scientific concepts in the districts would be selected for the State-level competition and progress eventually to the national-level contests.

The national-level winners would get an opportunity to spend over two weeks at premier science institutions in the country as the NCSC was being supported by the National Council for Science and Technology under the Union Ministry of Science and Technology.

Among last year’s national-level winners from Madurai, S. Gautham Paramasivam and V. Parthiban of Akshara Matriculation Higher Secondary School near Nagamalai here, will visit the Indian Institute of Technology-Kharagpur between December 9 and 27. Three other children in their team had opted out of the visit due to personal reasons. Elated over having got an opportunity to visit an IIT during his schooldays, Paramasivam said the participation in the children’s science congress had completely changed his outlook towards science.

The innovation that won him the opportunity is a carton filled with hay. His team used it to cook rice and dhal.

Varanasi inspiration

“For using our hay box, all that a person has to do is to boil the required quantity of water in a pot, pour rice/dhal into it, place the vessel inside the box and close it tightly with a hay pillow. The food will get cooked within 40 minutes thus saving energy consumed while cooking in stoves. During my visit to Varanasi for the national-level competition, I saw many children come out with great ideas such as generating electricity from tap water for charging mobile phones. This has inspired me to become a scientist rather than an engineer or a doctor,” Paramasivam said.

Amazed at the innovative ideas generated by her students with the help of traditional scientific knowledge, Principal Kausalya Srinivasan said she always encouraged her children to learn science from the rural folk.

This year, five Class VIII students of the school — M.S. Ragem, C.R. Dharini, R. Bhargavi, M. Naga Nithish Kumar and S. Nikhil Navaneethan — will display a non-electrical refrigerator at the district-level science congress to be held at Jegan Matriculation School at Avaniapuram here on Friday.

“Vegetables and fruits can be stored for about a week in our refrigerator made of clay. You just have to keep the vegetables in a clay vessel and put it inside another bigger clay vessel containing water. It has to be closed with a common clay lid. That’s it. Simple,” said Ragem with a smile.

This innovation would be one among the around 60 projects that are expected to be put on display.

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