Thiruvananthapuram

Eight children from Kashmir at science congress

Without access to books in school or university libraries, or online resources, or labs to verify the results of experiments, they took up survey-based projects

There was no school, no Internet, and no library. For eight children from the Kashmir division of Jammu and Kashmir and their teachers, participating in the 27th National Children’s Science Congress seemed an unsurmountable challenge in the wake of a lockdown that began on August 5.

Yet, they are here in God’s Own Country for the five-day event to promote a scientific bent of mind among children.

“When the course of a river is blocked by a stone, it finds other routes to flow past. We too found other ways to get our children to take part in the science congress,” says Mohammed Yusuf Zagoo, State academic coordinator of the National Children’s Science Congress.

Relative calm

Mr. Zagoo said they had to go door to door to persuade parents to send their children for the district, regional, and State-level children’s science congress. With restrictions on movement of people, it was not easy. However, it was towns and urban areas where the clampdown had the maximum impact. Rural areas were not affected much. Also, every morning and evening, people did venture forth during what they call ‘safe time’ when even shops reopened.

The teachers’ task was made easier as the children who would take part in the district-level events had already been identified before the lockdown began. A couple of events had even been held, says teacher educator Farooq Ahmed Naikoo. The events in the remaining places were held in a staggered manner after door-to-door visits to homes to encourage families to send their wards for the event. Mr. Zagoo says he even travelled on horseback.

It was a few weeks before things started returning to normal. In the meantime, the students turned to teachers in tuition centres, resource persons, and experts to guide them. Without access to books in school or university libraries, or online resources, or labs to verify the results of experiments, they took up survey-based projects.

Javed Ahmed, resource person, mentions a project in which disposable products such as styrofoam glasses and plastic-lined paper plates can be disposed of in a container designed on the lines of the samovar in which tea is made. Charcoal is put in an inner container and the disposables in an outer chamber. The fumes that come out are passed through an ice bath so that they can change into liquid form that is more easy to handle. Molten material comes out through a lower chamber and solidfies, thus making their disposal or recycling easier.

Mr. Ahmed said despite the constraints, they were quite optimistic about how the students will fare in the congress. Mr. Zagoo said it was probably because of the challenges involved that they enjoyed themselves more this year. Mr. Naikoo and Mr. Ahmed agree. “We have done more work this year, and the results are more rewarding.”

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Printable version | Apr 1, 2020 11:29:51 AM | https://www.thehindu.com/news/cities/Thiruvananthapuram/braced-by-science-they-brave-lockdown/article30428348.ece

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