THE children of the land hold the key to our future and the spirit of innovation and science is to be kept alive and active within this sector. This week Digital Oman looks into a co-operative effort within the scientific fraternity to build this among the school students.
The Science India Forum (SIF) Muscat is a non-profit forum of science lovers who are held together for nurturing the spirit of science and technology among schoolchildren. SIF works in close co-operation with the Vigyan Bharati India and Indian Institute of Scientific Heritage for the promotion and popularisation of science and technology under the patronage of the Indian Embassy, Muscat.
Their flagship projects are the famed 'Sastra Pratibha Contest' (running for the past three years) and the associated science and technology seminars, essay competitions, exhibitions and quiz shows. In early 2007, the SIF received the prestigious Jawaharlal Nehru prize for popularising science among youths in India from the Indian prime minister.
The Sastra Pratibha Contest is unique in its format that it tests the students' acumen and intellect in the science stream with a syllabus being on the Pinnacle of Indian Science publication, a science India magazine in addition to their academic curriculum. This instils the habit of reading more about scientific advancements and challenges and motivates children to take up science as a career.
SIF seminars invite eminent scholars, researchers and highly accomplished individuals from the scientific community whereby the schoolchildren get opportunity to enhance their knowledge and interact with the guests. To quote one of their grand events, the 2006 Sastra Pratibha Contest finale event was presided over by Dr Madhavan Nair, Chairman of the Indian Space Research Organisation. On the sidelines of this event a science exhibition was conducted where selected schoolchildren presented their projects.
A range of talents emerged from this forum such as alternative energy sources and robotic models to bio-fuels. Eminent scientists like Dr Ananda Bose IAS, Chairman Education Society and Joint Secretary (R&D) Atomic Energy Commission and Prof P B Sharma, founder Vice-Chancellor of Rajiv Gandhi University judged the entries.
This year's Sastra Pratibha Contest has been launched under the auspices of Anil Wadhwa, the Ambassador of India to the Sultanate of Oman. With the date of examination set on October 4, 2007, the final award ceremony is scheduled for early January 2008.
Students eagerly await the scientists whom they could interact with directly during this science festival. They also look forward to the science exhibition, science quiz, skit and presentation on science and technology. Top-level academicians, scientists and policymakers of science and technology in India are the torch-bearers of this great scientific movement.
As remarked by Dr Madhavan Nair, the guest of honour in 2006 event, “it is impressive and truly an eye opener for everyone about the potentials of the young minds, their knowledge and aspirations.” The views of the students about global issues like environment pollution, energy self-reliance and alternative energy forms have impressed eminent scientists, academics and parents alike.
The value of such forums and competitions is evident and the spirit of the movement has been received well within the academic community. There is also an anticipation amongst the students as to who the guest of honour for this year's award ceremony will be. Whoever it might be, it is truly going to be festival of science and technology for students and teachers. We wish the entire organising team and the students for a splendid contest and results this year as well.