A science exhibition on a 16 coach AC train! Yes, “The Science express”, a science exhibition on a train that is travelling all over the country is now in Bangalore. The exhibits have been developed by the Max Planck Society, Germany, in collaboration with the Department of Science and technology (DST), the Government of India and the Vikram A Sarabhai Community Science Centre (VASCSC).
The train is in Bangalore, stationed at the Cantonment station, from the 10th to the 14th of this month. So far the train has visited over 100 cities covering a distance of 32000 kms.
Each coach represents a different facet of science. For example the first coach concentrates on the big bang theory and the seventh one focuses on technologies of the future. Other coaches include global challenges, nanocosmos, and science and technology in India.
The exhibits consisted of scientific models, hands on exhibits, pictures and text and LCD television displays, with video and sound. Stationed at regular intervals were trained coordinators who explained the exhibits and the science behind them. The coordinators spoke in English or Hindi depending on the needs of children.
Around 4000 people came to see the exibition on its first day in the city. The majority of the people who attended the exhibition were school children and their teachers, from grades nine and ten.
The coordinators said that they used the visual tools, as aids and used basic scientific principles to explain the models and technologies.
They had unique educational models which the children could use, like the one based on optical illusions, one which measured your weight on different planets, a board which lets you vote on what you can do to save the environment etc.
The exhibitions according to one of the coordinators Minal, from Gandhinagar are structured around the ninth and tenth grade school curriculum and aim to make complicated science easier to understand.
“Nothing is complicated”
According to her, the Science Express also provides career counselling for students interested in science and identifies students with a certain “spark” and gives them tools, and references necessary to go forward.
She also said that to visit the exhibits, a basic knowledge of science is preferred so it’s easier to understand the models.
The director of The Muslim Orphanage school near Ulsoor tank who came to see the exhibition said that this was a new and exciting experience for the students and he felt that the visual learning aids were extremely effective, he also said that they don’t have such hands-on learning methods because of the conventional nature of the school administration.
Many students admitted to not having experienced such visual teaching methods like models etc. in their schools, and that this experience also taught them topics beyond the bounds of their curriculum.
Sohn from Stella Maris School said that “it is related to my curriculum and is nice and interactive”
Besides teaching the basic concepts of science, the Science Express teaches topics which are relevant today. Topics covered include carbon dioxide sensors, target medicines, chromosome defects, chaotic pendulums, cells genes, the universe, the big bang theory.
Some of the students of SVM school, said that they were already planning on pursuing careers in science and this just increased their interest in it. Rahul G from SVM said it improved his knowledge beyond the curriculum. ⊕