SCIENCE MELA 2018
Suman Ganger (Convener)
Education is for improving the lives of others and for leaving your community and world better than you found it – Marian Wright Edelman (An American activist for the rights of children)
Many of the serious issues that the world is facing today are not related or limited to any particular country but are rather global issues. These issues need to be solved and faced by a collective, rationally thinking, skilled and empowered human community. Awareness of these issues and the skills and means to tackle them are of paramount importance. Here is where science comes in: Science of course can help us satisfy many basic human needs and improve living standards, find cure to diseases, provide cleaner forms of energy, and drive innovation and economic growth. But most important of all, science can teach us to find a way to rationally use the natural resources to ensure their continuity for the future generations. Science teaches us to think critically, practice logical reasoning, using empirical evidence and possess a skeptical attitude. Today all these skills along with a sense of environmental awareness are crucial. With this conviction, we at the Vivekanand Education Society’s College of Arts, Science and Commerce organised a Science Mela on 18th and 19th December 2018. This two day Science Mela was our attempt to percolate these thoughts and skills in our students and through them into the minds of school and junior college students.
Combined with the desire of sharing knowledge and college resources with the invited schools, junior colleges and with the community at large, the science departments organized this Mela with the funding received as part of STAR COLLEGE SCHEME status conferred to the college by Department of Biotechnology, Government of India in 2016. In this endeavour, undergraduate and post graduate students and staff of science departments (Physics, Chemistry, Mathematics, Microbiology, Biotechnology, Computer Science and Information Technology) and Department of Psychology displayed around 90 exhibits for the visitors.
In all 48 schools from Dadar to Nerul visited the Mela with the student count reaching to more than 1000, many of whom were accompanied by their teachers or parents. Students of Rochiram T. Thadhani High School for the Hearing impaired – Chembur, The Stephen High School for the deaf and Aphasic – Prabhadevi, Dr Antionio Da Silva High School & Junior College – Dadar, Vinay High School – Vashi Naka, National Sarvodaya High School and Junior College – Chembur, Akanksha Foundation were some of the participants of the Mela.
This year’s Science Mela theme – ‘Green Good Deeds’ was towards sensitizing the hosts (our students) and participating institutes towards protecting the environment and reusing, recycling and upcycling. It is a societal movement launched by Ministry for Environment, Forest & Climate Change, Government of India in 2018. At the Science Mela, materials such as discarded plastic bottles, newspapers, packing thermocol and other day to day items were used to create creative backdrops and exhibits. Enviro-Vigil, an environmental organization had placed a ‘Green Shoppe’ desk with items made by adivasi and tribal people using naturally available material as an alternate to various day to day hazardous non-degrading material used by most of us. (The Green Shoppe provides a platform to self-sustaining NGO’s manufacturing eco-friendly products across the country.) The Science Mela was also dedicated to the birth anniversary of Ramanujan (22nd December), a great Indian mathematician.
Dr. B.B. Singh, Advocate, Scientific Advisor and IPR Attorney, High Court, Bombay was invited as the Chief Guest for the Inaugural function. He motivated the students by showing them the path which can reap richer benefits through patenting and IPR. His talk was titled ‘How to be a scientist and still not be poor’. Dr. S. S. Bhagwat (Dean, ICT) interacted with the school students and inspired them to take up science and narrated how Indian science has contributed in making the lives of people easier and comfortable. He spoke about the unique aspects of engineering technology and prevention of pollution in different parts of the world.
Organizations like Vijnana Bharati and Envirovigil collaborated with Science Mela. Dr. Jayant Joshi (Scientist, BARC) spent an entire day infusing the students with the knowledge of physics with simple experiments.
The collaborations with the aforementioned external agencies definitely increased the exposure, enthusiasm and knowledge of the visitors of the Science Mela, but the real gifts of the Mela were the 400 student volunteers who worked untiringly before and during the Science Mela. Their enthusiasm while creating and explaining their exhibits to the visitors was the real success. Most of these volunteers were overjoyed and satisfied when they saw the look of awe and surprise in the eyes of the school/college students once they grasped the concept being explained.
Guided tours to the exhibitions, lectures, games, quizzes, film projections were offered to groups of students, parents and teachers and to the general public. A variety of exhibits and experiments were set up keeping in mind the young visitors. They were like a buffet of food so tasty and easy to digest yet healthy and essential. Some of the experiments/exhibits were Bioluminescent (glowing) bacteria, Ruben’s tube, Mobile controlled remote car, cyber security, 3D hologram, history behind AI – Alexa and Sophia, food adulteration, viewing food spoilage fungi microscopically, kya aapke paani me microbes hai? (Water analysis), errors in daily life attention abilities, mathematics in Nature, understanding well-known theorems in mathematics through models. Sessions on Photoshop, In-design and Blogging were conducted. A skit on the Chemistry behind black magic fascinated and enlightened the students. These created immense awareness in the visitors about not just abstract ideas but about science in their day to day life.
There was also a gaming zone and a quiz zone with activities and questions aimed at encouraging the visitors to learn while having fun.
The Science Mela is our initiative to popularize and encourage science and scientific thoughts in the community of young minds around us and give them the opportunity to collaborate with us for their scientific adventures. The feedbacks received gives us a feeling of satisfaction towards this extension activity and zeal to further propagate the scientific temper among the future generations and become part of the Nation Building.
All in all, we hope that students, teachers and parents who visited the Science Mela at VESASC to “experience the magic of science”, did so and left empowered with knowledge and joy.
SCIENCE MELA 2016