Cambridge Scientists Culminate India Tour To Promote STEM Education
A team of Cambridge Scientists have culminated their month long tour of Indian schools aimed to encourage more school children to take up STEM subjects. The team which comprised of Physicists Dr. Aditya Sadhanala and Darshana Joshi, Shruti Sharma (Stony Brook University, New York) and Dr. Vijay Venugopalan (Marie Curie ITN Fellow, DESTINY, Politechnico Di Mailan), reached out to more than 5,000 school students as part of the VIGYANshaala ('the classroom of science' in Sanskrit/Hindi) initiative, which encourages Indian graduate students and researchers around the world to collaborate with academics, teachers and students in India.
The programme aims to establish a network of academics, teachers and students to encourage more students to take up STEM subjects at undergraduate and postgraduate level. Although the science subjects are compulsory for school students, the academics said that students rarely get to perform hands on scientific experiments which is vital to inspiring more curiosity in the field.
Cambridge Physicists Darshana Joshi said that while growing up she had very few role models to look up to and it was the efforts of dedicated teachers which kept her interest in the STEM sciences intact. Dr. Aditya Sadhanala added that with this platform they aim to provide the kind of support and exposure which he did not have while growing up.
The programme seeks to confront multiple challenges which young people face including lack of exposure to STEM sciences and lack of women pursuing STEM sciences.
The team began their tour at Navi Mumbai, followed by two workshops in Pune targeting high-school and undergraduate students separately. In the North, they visited the Purkal Youth Development Society Learning Academy which serves 400 students from disadvantaged families from the foothills of Musoorie. In Haridwar, the team ran a workshop at the Gurukul Kangari University Physics department for 150 students, mostly from Hindi Medium Government Schools. In the remote town of Forbesganj on the border with Nepal, Nimisha Kumari, a PhD student at Cambridge's Institute of Asronomy, along with team VIGYANshaala organised two workshops, including one dedicated to female students.
The team also delivered a two day science camp for 150 orphaned children aged from 13 to 18 under the protection of Udayan Care, a Delhi based NGO
In South the team visited the Institute of Mathematical Sciences in Chennai and the Tamilnadu Science Forum. They also organized a four day roadshow where children from the socially marginalised community of Adi Dravidars, some children with learning disabilities and others whose parents have leprosy participated.
The tour had a long-lasting impression on the children who attended the camps and the workshops. The team hopes to tour again and spread the joys of, what they call the 'magical science' to more young students.
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