'Motivate children towards science'

3D animation

I always wanted to find out why science can’t be made simpler for children?” says Chunduri Rama Mohan, an IIT Kharagpur alumnus. The thought led Mohan, who received his Bachelors, Masters and PhD in department of computer science and engineering from the Institute to develop ALYSS (Animation Labs for Young Science Students), an app that illustrates science concepts in 3D HD animations for middle and high school students.

“I was amazed by the visual approach that some of the science magazines in US took to to make students understand basic scientific concepts, for instance by including colourful images. In US, there is a lot of emphasis on visual learning. But, somehow such ecosystem is not in India. I wanted to motivate children towards science, and 3D became a way,” Mohan, who worked as researcher in semi-conductor domain in USA till June 2011 tells Metrolife.

From less than 10-minute videos that depict complex concepts like human digestive system to interactive quizzes, the recently launched app (which works offline as well) has around 60 concepts.

According to Mohan, while instilling confidence and interest in science is a key aspect, life-long learning is preferred rather than book-based knowledge. “Nothing in science and mathematics has to be feared, it has to be understood. Students need to visually experience the excitement of scientific discoveries which books can only fulfill to an extent. After all, pictures speak a thousand words, and moving pictures, a lot more,” says the 48-year-old.

Ask him whether this is an attempt on the lines of smart classes that consist of videos, whiteboard and presentations, he says, “Smart classes did not manage to have that kind of impact because of their mediocre presentations. That is why, we have taken the best known principles of teaching.”

Amidst DIY videos on Youtube to lectures from portals like Khan Academy and ExamChampions, he feels the need is to “enhance scientific curiosity”. He says, “We have done a lot of research to analyse the most effective way to keep the attention span of children and restricting the content to the syllabus. The other lectures and presentations are good if the child is motivated to learn in the first place. In fact, in a class, there are mostly 10 per cent children who are motivated in science and technology. There is yet another set of children who are not keen irrespective of all tried and tested methods. That is where these 3D animations can help connect the dots and make science-for-all possible,” says Mohan who has been a robotics coach for children in US and India and has led the teams to participate in several FIRST LEGO League Championships.

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