Students display their skills through science projects
Electrical energy extracted from water irrigating paddy fields, an eco-friendly bike that cuts down pollution and a cow dung coated clay pyramid that doubles up as a granary- ideas employing simple scientific principles like electrolysis, dynamo and structural design creatively.
Spiralling fuel prices, polluted cities, depleting energy sources and restriction of subsidised LPG cylinders- all contemporary issues were given creative scientific solutions by prospective young scientists at the district leg of the national level INSPIRE awards exhibition here on Saturday.
Ideas floated around with more than 600 projects by an equal number of students at the Bishop Heber Higher Secondary School were on display here. Though a number of working and static models replicated textbook concepts, a few testified to the ingenuity of students in applying basic scientific principles.
The INSPIRE (Innovation in Science Pursuit for Research Excellence) awards instituted by the Department of Science and Technology, Government of India as an early attraction of talent scheme hopes to cultivate a scientific research temperament among students. Around 15,000 students in Tamil Nadu from Class VI upwards have been identified for 2010-2011, based on consistency of academic performance and aptitude for science . The award grants students Rs. 5,000 for producing innovative scientific projects.
That the younger generation is actively engaged with current issues by seeking solutions for problems rather than discussing them was evident from projects displayed. Energy was the watchword from models postulating the idea of solar powered villages to tapping power from volcanoes and vegetable waste.
According to Education Department sources, 35 projects from Tiruchi district have qualified for the state level competition based on innovation, presentation and utility, among other factors. T.M. Alagiri Samy, Project Director, Anna Science Centre and Planetarium, the nodal agency for implementing the project, told The Hindu that though a few projects demonstrated resourcefulness of the students, novelty in application was wanting for an exhibition of this stature. Teachers would be given guidelines in encouraging innovative concepts next year, he said.
Harish, a student from a city school said the awards had helped him think beyond the textbook. “Though I am interested in science, the competition inspired me to brainstorm for new ideas”. Daisy Rani, a teacher from a government school in Thoppampatti said, “Teachers moot ideas and assist the students, though they are encouraged to finish the projects on their own. For students from rural schools, the exhibition is a great opportunity to engage deeply with science. It is highly motivating for these students to see projects prepared by students of their age from different schools.”