K.N. MURALI SANKAR
Imagine learning Science without the facility of a lab. For these students walking into one was like stepping into wonderland.Having read about a science laboratory only in textbooks but never having seen one actually, the spacious chemistry lab of Sri Durga Malleswara Siddhartha Mahila Kalasala appeared like a wonderland for the batch of girls coming from a government school.
For the first time, the girls saw several chemicals, acids and equipment like burette and pipette, besides doing litmus tests and identifying a few salts. And, they even had their doubts cleared by the college students.
Thanks to the initiative taken by the college management to throw open, by turns, their laboratory to students of less privileged schools that have no laboratories, students of Stds. VIII, IX and X of Zilla Parishad High School for Girls at Patamata used the opportunity and grasped the subject to some extent when their turn came.
“It’s a wonderful experience. Our teacher explained us about all the equipment. Now I’m able to recollect the lessons,” said B. Himabindu, a student of Std. IX. Visiting the laboratory was a pleasant experience for her.
“It is like watching the characters of a story come alive,” said M. Vijayalakshmi, a student of Std. VIII. “I have seen salts like magnesium oxide, silver nitrate and hydrogen sulphate here,” she said, and described the spirit lamp used to heat salts and make new combinations. “We have a lesson in which we have to draw the spirit lamp. The original one is slightly different from what we draw in the classroom,” she said.
An excited J. Meerabai of Std. IX described the functioning of the sensitive balance as “just miraculous.” “We can measure salts of the weight of even 0.6 grams and 0.8 grams,” she said, with a twinkle in her eyes.
The session, clearly, turned out to be a useful one to not just the visitors but to the hosts as well.
The college students, who took the pains to explain various chemical processes to the school students, averred that the session helped them sharpen their teaching skills. “I’m yet to come out of the excitement. Though I’m interested in teaching, I did not realise until now how interesting it was,” said D. Harika, a B. Sc. final year student.
“This session reminded me of my student days when we had no access to the chemistry lab.
These girls are lucky enough to visit the lab during their school days, and this visit certainly will help them during their career planning,” she said.
Her classmate H. Himabindu felt that the fact that the students raised doubts during the interaction session indicated their level of understanding.
“They have more grasping power. They are keen on learning the subject,” she said, adding: “I’m proud that I am able to clarify all their doubts.”
Head of the chemistry department S. Kalpana explained that the session was aimed at covering topics like analytical balance, varieties of salts and introduction to lab equipment.
“Many high schools do not have laboratories even though students have lessons about salts and chemicals. Unless they visit a lab, they cannot understand the subject well,” she summed up.