Taking astronomy to grassroots gets thumbs up from students

Taking astronomy to grassroots gets thumbs up from students

Taking astronomy to grassroots gets thumbs up from students

Government high school children across Karnataka from June this year will have the luxury of watching digital night sky in their school premises itself. Four more mobile planetariums are getting ready to be inaugurated.

The government is taking the mobile planetarium project forward following the success to its pilot project which has been limited to three taluks in Chikkaballapur district. From last December to February this year, not less than 10,000 students have gazed the sky for astronomical interest and for pleasure, in the planetarium.

Science and Technology Minister M R Seetharam has said each mobile van would tour six districts. And, in a year’s time, all the districts would be covered. The selection of government and aided high schools have been left to the education department. The idea is to spread interest in science among students by showing the wonders of night sky, he added.

Not less than Rs 2 lakh is required to operate and maintain a van per month. The Bengaluru-based Varnaaz Technologies has supplied the mobile vans. Each van is fitted with a foldable dome, diesel generator, solar UPS, two ACs, a digital projector with a fish-eye lens, sound system and 2D videos on life cycle of stars, solar system, earth, moon and sun, astronomical phenomena among other related subjects. The domes are like a small classroom with a height of 12 ft.

  The duration of the show is 25 minutes. The narration is in Kannada and English. The videos are purchased from the US and Europe. The dome is inflatable in which 30 students can sit on the floor for sky gazing. The shows on the universe are in sync with the syllabus.

Seetharam said taking the planetarium to the doorstep of students or schools is the best way to engage rural students in science subjects. There are plans to cover even junior colleges too, he added.

Sathyakumar Sharma, scientific officer, Karnataka Science and Technology Promotion Society, which is the implementing agency of the planetarium-on-wheels, said, “The response for the taking the astronomy to the grassroots level is excellent. Students get excited when they watch the programmes.

It is like dream coming true for them. The impact factor is good because the quality of the videos exhibited is of high standard.”