Chief minister Raghubar Das takes a look at a robotic dog during the Isro programme at JVM-Shyamali in Ranchi on Thursday and (above) Shamim Alam Ansari, a student of Kuldeep School in Harmu, launches a dummy rocket as space scientist BR Guruprasad looks on. Pictures by Prashant Mitra
Ten, nine, eight, seven, six, five.....
Over 300 students from various Ranchi schools on JVM Shyamali grounds chanted the countdown with gusto at the end of which Indian Space Research Organisation (Isro) scientist B.R. Guruprasad pressed a hand-held lever.
A rocket prototype whizzed off. Children broke into cheers, many clapped hard.
Organised by Isro for the first time in Jharkhand, the two-day outreach programme and exhibition that began at JVM campus on Thursday may have well been titled 'rocket science made easy'.
"I created a pressure, kept the prototype at an 80-degree angle of elevation and released the pressure in reaction to which the prototype went off as a projectile as it was expected according to Newton's third law (For every action, there is an equal and opposite reaction)," Guruprasad, speaking largely in Hindi with a bit of English, told students the fundamentals of rocket science.
"Not only in Jharkhand, this is for the first time in India that an outreach programme is being held in Hindi," said S. Kumaraswamy, joint secretary in department of space, who was present on the occasion.
"Isro has been organising outreach programmes for the past many years but the PMO has now decided to hold them in regional languages for deeper penetration among students," Guruprasad added.
An example of Indian jugaad or improvisation technology, the rocket prototype was made of used cold drink bottles, adhesive tapes and a nozzle.
Then came a flood of queries from students. Smiling, the space scientist replied to each of them. Some students like Harsh Priya of JVM and Shamim Alam Ansari of Kuldeep School set off missiles on their own.
Earlier in the morning, chief minister Raghubar Das inaugurated the programme. "The future of science in the country lies on the shoulders of the young. Youth should go in for research and help the country progress in the fields of health, power, agriculture and water conservation," the chief minister said.
The ongoing exhibition has boards in Hindi that showcase the Indian space odyssey at its various stages and displays brass and fibreglass models of spacecraft, PSLV, GSLV, Mars Orbiter Mission and Resourcesat. The exhibition also has information about space missions and their applications in the fields of communications, distance education and telemedicine.
"We've seen some on TV but seeing them like this is amazing," Lakhya Lakra, a Class VI boy of Kuldeep School said, his eyes shining.
WISLAB, a robotics lab, was also inaugurated on school premises. Wissensquelle Robotics, a Bangalore-based software development company that set it up, opened a pavilion displaying 13 exhibits, including the likes of drone and a robot dog that obeys commands.
Film shows on space journey and a quiz have been lined up for Friday.