Science is about wonderment, about the hows and whys. It is about the action and reaction and about the catalysts. In the prologue, we discussed the various avenues through which we could channelize the curiosity and latent energy of children. Most things appealing to our children are more of a response to stimuli. The response manifests in ways we as parents can never even expect! A male friend got his little boy to help him with cooking, and to keep him occupied, when the wife was away. I witnessed this little less than 8, instruct his Baba to not wash vegetables after they were cut, because the ‘good things will flow away’. The Father was gob struck. What an amazing response that was to the stimulus, unknowingly provided by the Father! Tuning in to this frequency, let us explore where and how we can knowingly feed such stimuli and nurture the intellectual hunger growing in children.
Most of us are content if the stated academic portion is taught to the children. Do we really give it a thought what kind of science does our child like? Where does his/her inclination lie? What catches his attention and accelerates his reasoning? The Gen-X and Y did not feel the need to know more than what was prescribed. Knowledge was acquired only as required. But the scenario today is different for a student. The world is a more organized, compact place, knowledge and information are both easily accessible, and their thirst to know more defies the sensibilities of the older generations.
Fortunately for the Gen-Z, the awareness and realization of the need for exposure to knowledge and accessibility to opportunities has been indisputably established. The process of sowing the seeds of predisposition towards subjects that will provide the right stimulus, and etch the young minds is now advancing. We see children getting opportunities to open the panes of their vision by appearing for the exams like the Homi Bhabha Bal Vaidnyanik Examination (Junior Scientist) for students of standard 6th and 9th or the Science Olympiad Foundation (SOF) exam for class 1 to class 12. But these are limited to taking an exam of MCQs and waiting for the scores.
Vidyarthi Vigyan Manthan- churning out true talent
There is one forum that is truly designed for the aspiring Indian students to cultivate the powers of scientific reasoning and logical ability- the Vidyarthi Vigyan Manthan (VVM). This is an initiative of Vijnana Bharati, in collaboration with Vigyan Prasar, an autonomous organization under the Department of Science and Technology (DST), Government of India and National Council of Educational Research and Training (NCERT), and under the Ministry of Education. The unique features about the opportunity VVM offers are
- It is India’s largest science talent search examination.
- It is first level on-line examination – which eliminates the need to physically remain present at some faraway examination center.
- The student can take the exam by logging in even on her/his mobile phone!
- The VVM 2020 will be a mega science experiment on pan-India scale. Never before has an exam being conducted on such a magnitude.
- The objectives this mega experiment are inculcating observational skills, a scientific mindset, and analytical thinking among the scientifically endowed students.
Opportunities like this will take the children’s ability beyond studying by rote or exhibit technique in correctly attempting the multiple choice questions. It goes beyond that, by involving them in application of science in their daily lives and inculcating an inherent technical aptitude in all walks of life.
Paving way for the future
We as parents, see the world with our vision which is backed by experience, expertise and examination. As young students whose minds have just begun to learn and comprehend, it is very important to encourage them to take on such endeavors. They have to discover that the world does not end at the horizon, and this new world has to be explored by them. Exposure to such prospects will open the world of opportunities for them. Who knows who will take away what bit of inspiration from this interactive experience? Someone ambitious ones may go on to experiment with tissue chips to better understand how microgravity affects human health and disease, possibly applying those findings to healthcare on Earth, or they might be another dreamer who will devise a way to incorporate chlorophyll in the human cell or even construct a bio-shield that will protect us from harm as the ozone layer is gradually eroded over time. There may be some shy ones too, to implement AI in our everyday lives and some out of the box thinkers thinking of another Atlantis construction!
Science prepares for the future. Science is the basis for much of our life. As we prepare the next generation of consumers, voters, creators, and policy makers it is critical to ensure they are not only comfortable but adept in science. Just as parents shape their children up, better equipping them to face their tomorrows, organisations like VVM are identifying students who can carry forth the legacy of a technical savvy country like India and harness its intellectual potential. We need to build our students to not just be sharp thinkers but to also be competitively cognizant. This can be achieved only with methodical practice and nurturing the relentless thirst to explore more each day with every opportunity. We have to get our budding talent to see that such tests and exams are not designed to mark them for what they know not, but to award them the master key that will open for them more windows of opportunities for advanced future.
VVM 2020-21 is coming up with a unique opportunity for registered participants this year.
The Mega Nation-Wide Experiment is a novel endeavour of VVM. The objectives this mega experiment are inculcating observational skills, a scientific mindset, and analytical thinking among our students.