The aim of Parikshan is to nurture native intelligence through practical science.
Children eagerly await the arrival of Vigyanrath, to their villages in Thiruvallur and Kanchipuram. For them, holding the test tubes and seeing the colour change are rare experiences and mean more than just fun. Vigyanrath, the van carrying the mobile lab comes knocking their school doors everyday. Those 45 minutes of hands-on-science can do wonders, believes Parikshan Charitable Trust, West Mambalam. V. Pasupathy, scientist and consultant for food safety, initiated the concept of mobile science lab in 2009 at Thiruvallur district. He is ably supported by a team with educational background. “The aim is to nurture native intelligence through practical science,” says Mr. Pasupathy.
The van carries lab equipments, generator and tent and travels to various places according to the schedule drawn with the schools, NGOs and local administration. Different batches of students gather at a particular place (or school) and try their hand at experiments. “Teachers and programme directors travel in the van and they explain through a power point presentation in the vernacular language, the science behind various notions.
The children learn by doing,” Mr. Pasupathy explains.
Not all children have access to science labs, nor are they encouraged to think out of the box. Especially those in rural areas lack the exposure that the city bred are privileged to. Parikshan wants to bridge this gap. “Parikshan intends to enable children to identify their passion and set the ignition for invention,” Mr. Pasupathy adds. “Grassroot development and tapping indigenous skills are the motive behind the project,” he adds. As many as 330 concepts have been explained with theories and related experiments.
“The experiments are new and those that include our day-to-day activities. They are categorised according to their age group. The tests are in fact answers to various ‘hows' and ‘whys' that arise in their mind,” Mr. Pasupathy notes.
Physics, chemistry and maths are the subjects dealt with and the children are divided into groups, who do experiments step wise as explained by the instructor. They are encouraged to come up with own ideas and innovations.
Parents of the children also show interest when the van arrives their village.
They are taught on climate change, organic farming and basic hygiene. Some of the teachers have expressed their happiness about the facility.
Parikshan plans to give DVDs of the presentations to teachers.
At present, Parikshan Charitable Trust has two vans.
“India needs 800 vans like this,” Mr. Pasupathy says. Innovations by students are referred to National Innovation Foundation – India (NIF), an autonomous organisation established under the Department of Science and Technology.
Parikshan has plans to reach out to city schools in the coming years.