METRO PLUS

Scientists in the making

ALL SMILES: The children were eager to explain the workings of their models.

ALL SMILES: The children were eager to explain the workings of their models.  

`SOLUTIONS GALORE' was the essence of the recently concluded Jawaharlal Nehru National Science Exhibition for Children, at Nampally Exhibition Grounds. The young minds that participated epitomised the advancements in the field of science in the recent years, with their forward-looking, yet practically workable exhibits.

"Science and Technology for society" was the main theme of the exhibition, which was further, divided into eight sub-themes, like `Landmarks in Science', `Harnessing Energy', `Food and Environment' et al. Says NCERT national coordinator Prof. K.V. Gupta, "These exhibitions are being held for the last 28 years across different cities in the country to expose and encourage scientific talent in the children, make them realise the relevance of science in society and develop creative thinking along with encouraging the young minds to explore and devise models on their own." In a society beleaguered by war, strife and shortages, the participants came up with the most unique of models trying to provide a solution to almost every problem being faced today. Says Neha from Jammu & Kashmir, who has devised a model to control the theft of electricity, "When our needs for something increase, it is not always possible to produce that much more. The only way of catering to the increased demand is to carefully use what we have on hand. It is a common fact that electricity today is a highly scarce product, yet the country is losing crores of rupees in its pilferage. Thus my model, which sets off an alarm whenever there is an extra load being consumed or when a line is tapped, should be an answer to saving as much as we can." The shortage of electricity across the country was the concern of many participants, as they have been the sufferers of prolonged power cuts!!

HOW IT WORKS: The exhibits were practical as well as creative.

HOW IT WORKS: The exhibits were practical as well as creative.  

Ganesh from Karnataka has devised a way of generating electricity from cow dung. All that he requires is a carbon rod and a zinc plate of a waste cell battery, which he plants into the cow dung in a plastic glass to generate about 0.8 to 0.9 volt electricity. It is almost unbelievable, till you see a clock and a calculator running without a hitch with this new source of power.

Young Joydeep Das from Shillong has found a way to generate electricity from the most common - "busy traffic roads". The `Gharelu fridge', which runs on charcoal instead of power, is an exhibit from Uttaranchal by Nishant, which showcases the fact that the students have tried to come up with solutions for the problems they face in their day-to-day life. Says Nishant, "When all that we actually see is power cuts, where is the question of dreaming about a chilled Pepsi or an ice-cream? But, that is not reason enough to feel defeated. Thus, I have tried to combat the situation with an alternative." Akin to him is Ashutosh from Orissa, a state devastated by frequent natural disasters, who says, "the state of sanitation in my state is very poor and hence, I have tried to devise a urinal which cleans automatically with the help of a suction pump and a water reservoir without the use of electricity." Ashutosh claims that the cost of implementing his project is only Rs.500. The participants insist that today's world is one of change and advancement and that their models are geared for real-time situations. In the past, on two occasions, the models at these exhibitions have been patented. In the year 1990, a participant from Rajasthan had come up with an ingenious stick for the blind, for which the state of Rajasthan later, gave a bulk order along with the prize money. This year too, a participant from Gujarat has devised a `balance' for the blind, which works on the basis of sound, wherein the sound intensity predicts the mass of objects.

Over 200 exhibits by participants coming from as far as Sunebeda in Orissa, Sikkim, Andaman, Rajasthan and Jammu & Kashmir, showcase the interest and enthusiasm that students and institutions have in an event of this kind.

This science exhibition, which is conducted every year by the NCERT in collaboration with a particular State Government, is participated by overseas students, too. There were several enthusiastic participants this year, from Doha, Qatar, Kuwait, Abu Dhabi and Oman.

Accidents and terrorist attacks may have become a way of life for many of us despite the numerous security precautions taken, but the models, like the super alarm, the instant security alert and the automatic railway crossing with safety system, on security management showed that, there is a way to counter every lapse. It would be surprising to know that an alternative for diesel, on which most of our heavy traffic thrives can be made out of the Indian Beech tree seeds. Says Theresa from Kerala, "We don't have to depend on any nation to provide us with fuel if only

ROLE MODEL: Multi-dimensional eco-friendly technology from MMET, J&K.

ROLE MODEL: Multi-dimensional eco-friendly technology from MMET, J&K.  

we can devote a little time to this alternative. All that is required is to plant as many trees as possible and within a few years, we should have a sizeable amount of alternative fuel on our hands.

Not only is it an alternative to diesel, but it is also an economical and non-polluting source which is easily replenishable." It may be the right time to wake up to this alternative source.

TRAIN OF THOUGHT: Girls file past the exhibits.

TRAIN OF THOUGHT: Girls file past the exhibits.  

The rise in the scientific temper of the students over the years is attributed to the media, with channels like Discovery and also the access to loads of information over the net, according to a survey conducted by the NCERT officials at the exhibition.

Dispelling murmurs from students of private schools in Hyderabad that, only students from Government Schools are selected to represent the state at the national level, the NCERT national coordinator says, "It is a very fair system that is being followed for years. There are many private schools that participate in this event. The selection process is very rigorous, as the exhibits have to pass the school, district and the state level to finally come up to the National Level and each model is thoroughly looked into and analysed, before it is showcased at the exhibition for others to see."

Anupama Mohanta, from Orissa, kept the audience spell bound by demonstrating her haemoglobin-meter, which measures the haemoglobin count without pricking the finger for a blood sample. Her device passes light through the nail and predicts the count by comparing it with standardised slides. This and many other innovative models in the exhibition show that there is no dearth of talent in the country. All what is required is proper channelling.

Despite the unbridled enthusiasm, there was a tinge of disappointment amongst the students and their teachers with regard to the facilities meted out to them during the exhibition.

PLASTIC PERIL: It is never too early to wake up to environmental hazard.

PLASTIC PERIL: It is never too early to wake up to environmental hazard.  

Sorely complaining about the poor arrangement of basic facilities like, food and sanitation, the students were visibly surprised to find such `deprived' arrangements. A look at the so called accommodation provided to the participants was appalling.

Defending the same, Prof Gupta says, "The state had taken every care to provide the right conveniences, but in an event of such a size, hiccups are but natural."

The participants also pointed out that the industry's participation was close to nil. With some recognition or encouragement from the industries, maybe we can deliver better and finer solutions, they said unanimously.

And of course, with an exceeding level of inspiration derived from President Dr. APJ Abdul Kalam, there seemed to be no doubt that there were many budding scientists amongst the hundreds, who participated in the exhibition.

All the best for their way to greater heights!

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