Staff Reporter

NIF organises IGNITE 2008

CHENNAI: B.Aravindan was eight when he witnessed a visually and hearing impaired man person getting hit by a speeding car in the middle of the road. Several years later, the boy developed a unique walking stick for those physically challenged with an infra-red vibrator in it, which would alert the user of moving or stationary objects near them.

The innovation won the class XI student of M.C.T.M. Matriculation Higher Secondary School in the city a second prize in the inter-school innovation contest IGNITE conducted by the National Innovation Foundation (NIF) last year. The boy is now improvising the stick by introducing Global Positioning System for navigation in it.

IGNITE 2008 is back to encourage a similar spirit of innovation and social responsibility among young Indians. The Foundation has launched ‘Creative Clubs’ across the country in collaboration with Honey Bee Network – an informal network of creative people supported by non-governmental organisation SRISTI working for grassroots innovation.

NIF Coordinator for IGNITE 2008 P.Veejayshree said any Indian school could start the Club for students of classes 6 to 11. Club members could be students who have interesting ideas or have identified innovation by others or done both. Student members can also be encouraged to document the traditional household practices taught to them by their elders – one of the motives of the Foundation.

She said the story of Aravindan was one instance of how young minds when encouraged to think, could innovate. “The boy does not come from a privileged family. But that never stopped him from finding a creative solution to the problem faced by persons with disabilities,” she said.

At a formal launch of the Club organised at the Indian Institute of Technology (IIT) Madras on Wednesday, Anil Gupta, Professor, the Indian Institute of Management, Ahmedabad, explained the philosophy guiding the club to school students.

“Be like the honey bee,” he said. “Your ideas are pollen grains, spread them.” He urged children to observe the world around them, identify problems faced by people in their everyday life and find solutions for them.

Problems are complex, but innovations are simple, he said.

Mr.Gupta said: “Honey Bee Network strives to be different [from other science exhibitions in schools]. We encourage original thinking in students ,” he said.

Student innovations can be patented too. He drew attention to a ‘respirometer’ invented by V.Atchara and K.Preethi of Alpha Matriculation Higher Secondary School which was patented last year. “Several Chennai-based doctors approached the students for the devices which can measure the expansion and contraction of the lungs,” he said. To enrol in the contest or connect with Honey Bee Network contact NIF on 18002335555 or 079-26732456 or e-mail ignite08@nifindia.org. Website: www.indiainnovate.com.

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