Science, as we all know it, is the art of observing, experimenting and recording of everything in our world and beyond. Astronomy is the applied science of understanding things beyond and affecting our planet.
We have been working with the wonderful kids of thimmanayakanahalli for over a year. The kids have also grown from just wanting to play games to start observing the sky, making paper planes, understanding and expanding their knowledge about the surrounding nature. We have sung songs, played games, been scolded by the adults and elders of the village throughout our year-long journey.
The thought of taking the kids outside the village on a science expedition was long due, but not an easy task. Come “Space week” and tremendous energy went into convincing parents to take the kids on a one-day trip to the Jawaharlal Nehru Planetarium, Bangalore. After 2 -3 visits to the village and the kids houses, we were able to get 13 kids on the train to Bangalore. We reached Bangalore around 9:30ish, greeted by Bhavyashree, and AC3.
We quickly had breakfast and took the metro to the planetarium around 11:30 (luckily the delay had nothing to with Bangalore traffic but more with our own laziness).
The kids started exploring various science experiments. Some of the experiments that the kids enjoyed were
- Whispering dish
- Rolling disks
- Lift yourself up
Around 2:30, we had a chance to have an exclusive conversation with Dr H R Madhusudan, Senior Scientific Officer at the planetarium. The interaction, while starting off with the encouragement to “Ask Why ?”, soon spun off to various questions in trying to understand the “whispering dish”, why does the sun go away at night, and how does science address the difference between belief and superstition. The students were encouraged to watch the sky every night.
Janani from AC3 has been an instrumental support in helping from a community centre in the village, and various members of AC3 have been regularly visiting the village and engaging with the students. So, we decided to visit AC3 and learn what AC3 is all about. From the planetarium, we visited AC3(Ambedkar community computing centre) in Bangalore. We shared lunch with AC3 students(chicken biriyani if you are wondering). AC3 explained the history and the activities they do, and what kind of impact these activities has been in the society. Visiting AC3 not just served as an inspiration, but also mounted plenty of questions from the kids on how togetherness and unity can have a strong impact in our society.
With tremendous explorations of science and borrowing inspiration from AC3, we then setback the journey back to the village but train. The train journey was filled with questions of “when was our next exploration” from the mouth, and bhel puri in our hands. We reached the village around 9PM, dropped them off in each of their houses and took that well-deserved sleep.
Post the event, we have had a lot of over-whelming response from both the students and parents. Parents have been calling us asking the million-dollar question, “what more can my kid explore and learn”. This one question from the parents and the kids, is more than enough motivation for us to hack and make with the kids. After all, science is nothing but observe, experiment and learn.
A big shoutout of thanks to Archana and Janani, who did the humongous job of convincing the parents to trust in us and send the kids for this fantastic exploratory journey.
With that, signing off
Shalini, Mukunda, Dinesh - Volunteers of Janastu, without whom we would never have discovered the village and started working with them
Archana, Bhavya, Ram - Volunteer of OpenSpace foundation, who were the pillars of science communication and engagement
Janani, Ashwini, Boopathi, Vinod, Prabha - Volunteers of AC3, our inspiration and motivation.