A Trip to the Science Fair at BITM

Shishur Sevay enjoys a wonderful relationship with the Birla Industrial and Technological Museum (BITM).  We happened to go there one day, loved it, and have been back several times since.  I don't know how to reference past posts but I posted about it on 7th November 2009. (If someone knows how to link, please let me know)

Our girls wanted to be able to share their experience with their school friends and so we also facilitated a school trip to the museum in November 2010.  


I'm on BITM's mailing list and I often get a phone call if there is an event going on.  It is a low key place, and unfortunately doesn't seem to make the "what to do with kids (or without kids) in Kolkata."  We have also been to a "sit and draw" competition there.

Last week I received an email about the Science and Engineering Fair.  Then I got a postcard; then I got a personal call.  Much of the science is at a higher level than that of our girls but the Science Fair seemed like it could be good.  The girls were enthusiastic. 


We arrived early which was fortunate as later there were long lines of people waiting to get onto the grounds.  This Fair represented the Eastern States of India.  My goals in taking the girls were to have them just SEE what a science fair is, what a PROJECT looks like, what is the job of the PRESENTER, and what were the IDEAS communicated.  I was less interested in the actual science, and whether it would be at their level.  I wanted them to know what this world of science projects and fairs looked like, so they could think about doing such things themselves… It's all about opportunities and dreams, but first you need some concrete information and experience in order to know what is possible.

Ganga is increasingly part of the social and educational life of the older girls.  But the wheelchair, her small one, keeps her too low to see many things, so this time we took her in the backpack.  One of the girls carried her for part, and then I did for the rest.  This way she was always at eye level.


The first exhibit we saw was in the Engineering Fair section and was about climate. 


The exhibit demonstrated the forces that caused Cyclone Alia.  The girls remember Alia because they donated most of their clothes to the victims, carried them out in big bags to a collection truck.  So now they saw Science linked to their experience.  When connections are made, the world becomes smaller and more accessible.


The next exhibit was about rain-water harvesting.  The girls were immediately interested.  We are putting a new room up on the roof, with a tin roof and gutters.  The girls immediately thought of doing water harvesting (a possibility that had been raised by the first architect).  We took pictures of how the pipes were placed. 



This young student told us about what happens when trees are cut down, the effects on wildlife.  Like all the presenters, girls and boys, he was very sincere and serious about his work.  This is also what I wanted to girls to see… smart kids talking about what they have studied and what they have done.


I didn't catch the whole thing, as I was busy trying to take pictures.  I was also fascinated by his very interesting owls.  But he had models of bats who lost their homes, and birls whose nests were destroyed.




The next exhibit was also quite understandable, a hand-made sprayer that cost Rs. 25 ($0.50).  He made it with bamboo, a plastic jug, and parts of pens. 




Here was a very innovative mouse trap!  Here was a confident sounding girl talking about the mouse trap she created.

We saw many other exhibits and then were tired, hot, and ready to go home, but not before a stop at the Canteen.


We left for home, in time for lunch.  The day before I had given the girls the option of a free afternoon when we got home, but they had asked that the regular teachers for Saturday come to work with them on a play rehearsal.  They are working on a play for Republic Day, just for us here, and they are including the four children with disabilities.  

Today Sunday, has been a more relaxed day.  Drawing Sir came in the morning.  Then for the rest of the day they played outside in the garden, watched TV, played Ludo and Carrom.   In the evening we had visitors.  There is an Indian tradition of celebrating birthdays, anniversaries, by giving to those less fortunate.    A family that was celebrating the birthday of one of their children asked to come.  The girls prepared a card for the birthday boy.  We love having visitors.  The girls introduce themselves and then I ask visitors to also talk about themselves, the kids talking about school. 

Then after prayers, Dance Sir came.  He has been with us since the beginning. Recently I came across a picture from one of his early classes here.  Initially I had started dance just as a way of teaching the girls about self discipline, and following directions.  They are now in their third year of Bharat Natyam Dance and Rabindra Dance.  They all placed in First Division in Dance and got distinction in Theory and Practical.

This was how they were almost four years ago:


Mother's Lament:  Where did the time go?  They grew too quickly!

Next thing I know, they will be entering projects in a Science Fair!







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January 2011
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