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Science exhibition vans enthuse rural children

Renuka Phadnis
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The VITM has five vans exclusively for children in rural areas who cannot visit the museum

Visvesvaraya Industrial and Technical Museum on wheels at Pilikula near Mangalore during Bal Bharat Srujanotsav.— Photo: R. Eswarraj
Visvesvaraya Industrial and Technical Museum on wheels at Pilikula near Mangalore during Bal Bharat Srujanotsav.— Photo: R. Eswarraj

At the recently-held ‘Bal Bharat Srujanotsav', the national-level festival for children from Bal Bhavans throughout the country in Pilikula, Mangalore, hundreds of children trooped into a parked van at the venue.

Called ‘Thungabadra', the van was a mobile science exhibition bus from Bangalore's Visvesvaraya Technological Museum (VITM). It was fitted with interactive models that explained science concepts, satellites, and space. The children could press buttons to read information on how the satellites help predict weather, in disaster warning, and how rockets were launched. The van arranged film shows on space and basic science.

At least 2,100 children walked through the van on three days, said Ravi, Education Assistant of the van. A technician accompanied him to fix any glitches in the models. Mr. Ravi said children in cities did not find the van attractive as they had access to various sources of information, including the Internet. However, children in remote villages of the State still found it compelling to walk through it. There were five vans exclusively for children in rural areas who could not visit the museum, said R. Bharadan, Education Officer, VITM, Bangalore. Rural children were “much interested and their involvement was high...they want to learn. We get more mental satisfaction (from sharing information with them),” he said.

On one visit to Horatatnal in Koppal taluk to conduct a mobile science exhibition and provide hands-on training on Mathematics, Mr. Bharadan said the van was parked in the villages as there was no space in the school. “When we requested the village people for power supply, they readily provided connectivity from one of their homes,” he said.

Of the five vans one was at the District Science Centre, Gulbarga. Their themes were “Man and Space”, “Man and Machine”, and “Biodiversity'.

In the 2011-12 academic year, the vans visited Koppal, Yelburga, Kustagi, and Gangavati for one month each from mid-June to mid August. They visited Hospet, Kudligi, Siruguppa, Bellary, Hagaribommanahalli and Kurugodu from mid-August to mid-January this year. In 2011-12, they visited 221 schools and 88,689 students visited the vans, which travelled over 7,707 km. The vans would visit 240 more schools in 2011-12, he said. Since 1971, the vans had visited 17,581 rural schools and 94.18 lakh rural students had visited the vans. It had travelled 1.25 lakh km since 1971.

Mr. Bharadan said the Deputy Inspector of Public Instruction and Block Education Officers of rural schools helped in getting the vans to rural areas. The staff of the van train local volunteers in explaining the models to children. However, at Pilikula, there were no volunteers. Asked about this, K.V. Rao, Director, Science Centre, Pilikula, said that science was learnt by doing things and there was no need for explanations. The students were in high school and could operate the models. If they still wanted clarifications, they could ask the van staff, he said.

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