The Telegraph
Monday , May 5 , 2014
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NML to play science mentor for students

The National Metallurgical Laboratory (NML) in Jamshedpur, a wing of Council of Scientific and Industrial Research (CSIR), India, has decided to groom students with a knack to know.

The NML, which has been hosting weekly visits of schoolchildren for the past three years, will now adopt students with an aptitude for science and help them take their dreams to a logical end. Students will be able to take part in research activities guided by scientists.

“A team at CSIR-NML has begun sieving children who are not just meritorious but also inquisitive. We have prepared a list of 100 students from different schools, both government and private. We will show them how scientist think and work so that they can emulate achievements,” said N.G. Goswami, the head of information management and dissemination centre at NML.

He added: “The whole idea is to let children think. Until and unless they question ‘why’, they will not be motivated enough to take up research. It is true that Google can give you answers, but it cannot help you think. Also, you cannot experiment on the Internet. It is just a medium of information.”

So far, more than 11,000 students from 198 schools in East Singhbhum and Seraikela-Kharsawan have visited NML. The current four-hour visits for Classes VIII and IX on Fridays inform students about the Indian and global scenario of science. There are interactive sessions, laboratory visits and IQ monitoring. The lab is keen to talk to schools on the adoption programme and structure weekend or holiday modules so that regular classes are not hampered.

“We always tell students that a scientist is not somebody who conducts experiments in large laboratories, but somebody who is an observer of nature. Students will have diverse interests. They will be grouped and taught accordingly,” Goswami said.

He maintained that there was no set module as such and the same could be customised for a student. “For instance, If somebody wants to make a miniature sensor aeroplane, he or she will be guided by aviation scientists. The project is aimed at developing interest in exploring things.”

Chandradeep Pandey, principal of People’s Academy, Baradwari, said it would be an experience of a lifetime for students. “Children of state-run cradles such as ours are not as privileged as students of private schools. NML is bridging the gap. Its adoption programme will also help children step beyond rote learning. They will explore and be thrilled to do so. It will be a great experience for all.”