Talent search yields bright sparks

SCIENCE IS FUN

Talent search yields bright sparks

Children at the GE Science Fair explained a range of topics from intelligent handling of e-waste to manufacture of biogas.

The small balloon-like structure expanded and contracted inside a solid case, and a group of children looked at the model with pride.

“We know what this is; we also know the science behind it,” one of them declared, unable to contain his excitement. “This is the human lung and it works according to Boil’s Law which says volume is inversely proportionate to pressure.”

The large, air-conditioned hall housed many such interesting models to explain concepts such as bio-diversity, biogas manufacturing and E-waste, and the models were all made by students of 16 government schools in Bangalore.

Most of the 500 children who participated in the ninth edition of GE’s science fair, organised exclusively for underprivileged children, displayed excellent understand-ing of the topics they had explored.

“The solid waste generated from homes goes into a biogas generation plant,” explained Raju Viswas, a fifth standard student of Pattandur Agrahara School near ITPL, Bangalore. Raju and his team had built a scaled-down version of a biogas generation plant. 

“This (biogas) creates less smoke and is not a threat to the environment,” he added.
Coming from about 16 schools across Bangalore, the children were helped by GE  employees who regularly visit the schools as volunteers. 

“The children only required help to bring their ideas alive. They were never short of exciting ideas,” exclaimed Ashwin, one of the volunteers from GE who worked with children from the Divine Light School for the Blind in White Field to create a model of the solar system.

“Since some of the children I worked with are visually challenged, I had to first make them understand the difference in the size of the planets and their distance from the sun. Once these concepts were clear, the students went about designing the model of the solar system. They even wrote the names of the planets in Braille,” said Ashwin.
“The objective of the exhibition,” said Gopichand Kadragatta, Senior General Manager for GE India’s Energy Engineering team which had overseen the organisation of the event, “is to help children connect theories that they learn in school with things that they may come across in daily life.”

“The education system ensures that we are all good at rote learning, which, in many ways is important for automatic recollection of information,” he observed. “With a science fair such as this, we hope to make them understand how theory can be applied to real-life situations. Kids from modest homes do not have the luxury of watching educational DVDs or surfing the internet to learn science in a practical way.”

GE volunteers who visited government schools in the City to teach science had suggested,  nine years ago, that the kids be introduced to practical science. “This began entirely as a low-key activity, but over the years, the number of schools participating in the science fair has increased,” Kadragatta said.

Children from the Sheila Kothavala Institute, a school for hearing-impaired children,  had made colourful posters to explain the harmful effects of e-waste and the hazards that untrained dealers face when handling it.

“Since children are eager to learn when they are involved in activities, we had to think of converting their ideas into small, easy-to-grasp activities. “Participating in the fair is a wonderful  experience as our children find science  interesting but don’t find it easy to  learn outside the classroom as the environment is not conducive to inclusive learning,” said a teacher from the institute

The otherwise quiet GE campus came alive with shouts and laughter of the children.
“We hope the children who are here today will carry with them the excitement for science,” Kadragatta said.

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