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Annual Report 1999-2000

Societal Programmes

Science Communication & Popularisation

The National Council for Science & Technology Communication (NCSTC), ever since its inception in 1982, has been engaged in science and technology communication / popularisation and inculcation of scientific temper among the people. The emphasis has been on development, adaptation, promotion and use of different communication methodologies. Various media, traditional and non-traditional, being utilised for the purpose, include print, audio/radio, video/TV and folk-forms like songs, dances, street-plays, puppetry etc. A number of initiatives were taken during the year; some were built around natural phenomena and specific events such as the Total Solar Eclipse of August 11,1999. Major programmes undertaken during the year 1999-2000 are described below.

National Children's Science Congress (NCSC)- 1999:

This is a programme involving children in the age group of 10 - 17 years, from all over the country, to encourage them to i) relate learning of science to the environment around; ii) to know their immediate social and physical environment and iii) provide them a forum to interact with scientists to quench their thirst for curiosity and creativity. During the course of NCSC, children take up scientific projects related to local issues, work under the guidance of the teachers / science activists, and report their findings at school, block or district level Congresses. Selected projects are presented at state and national levels respectively. Children are given freedom to present and write their project reports using their mother tongue.

The theme of the National Children's Science Congress - 1999 (NCSC-99) was `Nature - Let us Conserve, Share and Care', the same as that of the NCSC of the previous year. Children worked on various aspects of nature. The projects were related to aspects like air, water, land & soil, minerals, forest & vegetation, eco-systems, plants, and animals. The NCSC-99 was organised at Goa during December 27-31, 1999. In addition to project presentation by children from all over the country, several activity corners were also set up. Some 500 projects from some 25 States and UTs were presented. As in the past, two best projects from each State were presented at the 87th session of the Indian Science Congress Association (ISCA) held in Pune during January 3-7, 2000.

To help in improving the reach and quality of the programme, a group of experts, having no direct affiliation with the agencies involved in organising the NCSC, but having active interest and expertise in science education activities, related to children, has been formed to do an overall evaluation of the NCSC project. The group members have been visiting the district / state / national level Congresses, to gather appropriate inputs after interacting with children, teachers, coordinators and the organisers.

Voluntary Blood Donation Project:

Under the Voluntary Blood Donation Programme, "Rudhir-net", a Computer based Software for improved blood bank management has been developed after intense interaction with blood bank personnel, to help meet the present and future requirement for donor retention and maintaining donor database, record of blood bags from receipt to delivery, inventory management and geographical and blood group based donor search facility. The software is available on CD-ROM and 1.44 MB floppies. Proposals have been invited from various blood banks to test-check the software for critical analysis; 50 copies of the software on CD-ROMs and / or floppies would be distributed on first-cum-first-served basis.

The Blood Bank Society, PGIMER, Chandigarh, developed 6 types of posters in Hindi, English and Punjabi and booklets containing information on voluntary blood donation. A number of surveys have been carried out to study the factors that motivate and those that inhibit voluntary blood donation. Studies to know the status and gap between the voluntary blood donation and the actual requirement have been completed in 20 cities including Indore, Jabalpur and Bhopal, and Lucknow. Such studies are underway in Agra, Faridabad, Rohtak, Jammu and Srinagar. An all India study is being carried out to prepare a directory of voluntary organisations engaged in collection, storing voluntary blood and promotion of voluntary blood donation.

A two-day national workshop was organised by the Indian Society of Blood Transfusion and Immunohaematology (ISBTI), Rajasthan State chapter of the ISBTI, and the Kota Blood Bank Society, Kota. NCSTC had arranged this workshop to review available information, education, and communication material for promoting voluntary blood donation. About 60 experts presented their software on 13th and 14th April in Kota (Rajasthan) during this workshop. Wide ranging discussions were held in two days of intense interaction and specific recommendations were made on development of target specific communication material for promoting voluntary blood donation.

Field Programmes

  • A pilot training workshop on "Model Rocketry" was organised at Ahmedabad, during July 6-8, 1999. Construction of model rockets, launching, tracking, alongwith underlying principles of flight were taught during the course of the programme; 28 teachers participated in the programme and are expected to initiate this activity in their respective schools.
  • Science Centre (Gwalior) organised a 3 month long `Bhopal Jan Vigyan Utsav' from August 15 to November 14, 1999, covering different areas of Bhopal, on the theme "Clean and Green School". During this programme a number of activities like science cartoon competition, tree plantation, science quizzes, and children's interaction with scientists, water testing, and scientific explanation of miracles were organised. The main attraction of the Utsav was a Kala Jatha, which was received by more than 100 science clubs formed in different schools as part of this programme.
  • A series of workshops have been organised at the national, regional and state levels to train resource persons in the medium of puppetry using it as a tool for science popularisation by developing suitable scripts and themes. This year, state level workshops were organised in Karnataka, Assam, Madhya Pradesh, Orissa, West Bengal and Uttar Pradesh. A few more state level workshops would be organised very soon in Tamil Nadu, Bihar and Orissa. Science Awareness programmes were also organised through puppetry in selected districts of Rajasthan by two organisations viz: Shikshit Rojgar Kendra Prabandhak Samiti, and Samagra Vikas Sansthan of Jhunjhunu district Rajasthan.
  • NCSTC catalysed ‘Science Motivation Programme’ for school students at Regional Research Laboratory (RRL), Jorhat, Assam. About one hundred students and teachers from various districts of Assam participated. The participants visited various sections of RRL where the scientists and engineers demonstrated experiments and responded to various queries of the students. In a programme ‘Face to Face with Scientists’, a large number of queries were answered by the scientists. RRL scientists demonstrated a number of school level science experiments with the help of low cost experimental aids. As part of the programme, the participants visited the Namrup Thermal Power Station, a chemical complex of Assam Petrochemicals Ltd., TocklaiTea Research Station, and Assam Agricultural University. At the end of both the programmes, prizes and certificates were given to the winners of various competitions organised during the period.
  • To sensitize various voluntary and other agencies about NCSTC programmes, three workshops were organised - one in Manipur at Imphal (April 23-24, 1999), one in Tamil Nadu (November 22-24, 1999) at Chennai, and one in Uttar Pradesh (December 10-12, 1999) at Pithoragarh. In each workshop, representatives of more than 40 voluntary organisations and educational agencies participated. The main objective of these workshops was to enhance the pace of science popularisation activities in the state with the help of voluntary organisations / agencies.
  • A two-day workshop on "Low-cost / no cost Science Experiments" was organised on July 16-17, 1999 by Science Communicators’ Forum, Calcutta. About 50 participants, most of them secondary school science teachers from different districts of West Bengal participated.
  • National Open School (NOS) is organising a nationwide science popularisation programme for the their students and teachers in three phases. In the first phase, the programme is being organised in 250 study centers, followed by a programme at 10 regional centers for selected students and teachers, and finally at the national level. The programme comprises quiz contests, model / chart competitions, and poster / painting competitions. Around 1.5 lakh students and 25 thousand teachers are expected to be benefited by this programme.
  • NCSTC initiated a contact programme for talented school children. Under this programme a group of 20-25 talented students is given an opportunity to visit an R&D laboratory and interact with the scientists / technologists there. The activities include lectures / demonstrations, exposure to scientific methodologies and equipment, competitions, etc. Two contact programmes were supported at Lucknow and Chennai respectively.

Training Programmes

  • Origami is an art of paper folding for making attractive geometrical shapes and designs which help children in learning basic principles of Mathematics / Geometry in a learn-while-you-play manner. Training workshops for resource persons on "Learning Mathematics through Origami" were organised at Malegaon, Raipur and Agartala. Workshops at Jaipur, Udaipur, Chandigarh, and Manipur are in the pipeline.
  • Workshops for training resource persons on "Scientifically Explaining Miracles" shown by self-styled godmen were organised in Lambagaon, Varanasi, Allahabad (U.P), Shillong, Tura (Meghalaya), Agartala (Tripura), and Malegaon (Maharashtra). Similar workshops would be organised at more places in the country.
  • Master's Programmes in S&T Communication are being conducted at Lucknow University, Lucknow, and Devi Ahilya University, Indore with NCSTC's initiative and support. Some 25 students completed the course this year. A year long training course in science journalism through distance learning system is being conducted at the Indian Science Communication Society, Lucknow, which was catalyzed and supported by NCSTC. This offers an opportunity to those, who have interest in science writing / journalism and are unable to spare time to join regular courses. The course has provision for some 100 students per year. Study material on various aspects of science communication is also being developed in workshops organized at Lucknow and Devi Ahilya University, Indore.
  • Twenty workshops on science writing / journalism / illustration were organised / supported in different Indian languages. About 800 participants were trained in these workshops. Specific training workshops on various formats of science writing like poetry, fiction, plays, reporting, etc. were organized. A workshop on science visuals / graphics / scientoons / illustrations was organised by Himachal Pradesh Council of Science Technology and Environment at Himachal Pradesh University, Shimla, and a workshop on science plays was organized by Yuva Vigyan Parishad, Gwalior, at Shivpuri (MP). In the NorthEast, four such workshops were organized at Guwahati (Assam), Shillong (Meghalaya), Imphal (Manipur), and Agartala (Tripura).
  • To enthuse children about different uses of Lasers , a kit has been developed by IDDC, Ambala. This kit is being used in training workshops to train resource teachers. After completing the training workshop, a kit is given to a group of five participating teachers. During the year, NCSTC supported four such training workshops in Andhra Pradesh, Rajasthan, Tamil Nadu, and Bihar.
  • A module based on the principle of learning-by-doing, for high school / middle school science curricula has been developed. A three day training programme on learning science through hands-on-activities was organised at Jorhat. Support for such programmes has been provided to Tripura State S&T Council, Punjab State S&T Council and Rural Community Science Centre Trust, Shimoga, Karnataka. Around 150 science teachers of different schools have been trained.

S&T Popularisation on TV

A TV series on science for the common man titled "Vigyan Ki Rahein", produced by NCSTC, was re-telecast on DD-1 under Krishi Darshan programme. Each episode was independent and based on the topics concerning day-to-day life, such as weather forecasting, hand pumps, smoking hazards, biofertilizers, etc.

A 25-minute video film on National Children’s Science Congress (NCSC) is under production covering the yearlong process of this activity. The film would project the essence of the philosophy behind this activity that has taken shape as a movement over a period of 6 years.

Exhibitions

  • Achievements of Science & Technology Since Independence’ was the theme of an interactive exhibition designed and set up at the venue of the sixth National Children’s Science Congress and at the Indian Science Congress Session – both held at the Anna University, Chennai, during December 27-31, 1998, and January 3-8,1999 respectively. The exhibition highlighted the achievements in agriculture, health, communications, construction, and so on. The displays were supplemented with CD-ROMs, interactive computer quizzes, etc. Other S&T departments / agencies including Survey of India, India Meteorological Department, National Atlas Thematic Mapping Organization, and various autonomous and aided institutions participated. The exhibition was well received by thousands of visitors including students from local schools and colleges and delegates to the Congress.
  • The exhibition with 62 posters named ‘Development of S&T in India’ developed by NCSTC travelled to five districts of Madhya Pradesh. Both, English and Hindi versions have been prepared. These sets have been provided to all State S&T Councils / Departments and some NGOs / institutions / organisations known to be actively involved in science popularisation.

    A set of 60 posters on `History of Aviation and Science of Flight' is under preparation. The posters alongwith models on Bernoulli's principle, Induced flow, wind aircraft control system, famous aircraft models, advanced light helicopter models, etc. is being designed by the `Shastra Vahini’, a Pune based group.

Publications

  • In order to encourage science popularization through the print medium, especially through magazines, NCSTC support was continued for three popular science magazines in Indian languages, i.e., i) Nirantar Soch in Punjabi, by Punjab State Council of Science and Technology, Chandigarh, ii) Prayukti in Bengali by Ramkrishna Mission Polytechnic, Belur, Howrah (WB), and iii) Vigyan Aur Vikas in Avadhi (a dialect of Hindi) by the Society for Utilization of S&T for Uplift of Rural Population, Sitapur (UP). Support was extended to two other science magazines viz., i) Swadeshi Science in Malayalam, by Swadeshi Science Movement, Kochi (Kerala); and ii) Bigyan Tarang in Oriya, by Srujanika, Bhubaneswar (Orissa).
  • The NCSTC Science and Technology Feature Service "Srote" was actualised in 1988 by Eklavya, a non-governmental organisation based in Bhopal, as a project of NCSTC, with a view to enhancing the quantity and quality of S&T coverage in Hindi newspapers and periodicals; at the same time making available reference material for teachers, students and various organisations engaged in the field of S&T Communication. NCSTC continued its support to "Srote". Quality, frequency and circulation have significantly improved during the past few years. Srote is being now issued weekly.
  • NCSTC had launched a project titled "Preparation of Comprehensive Annotated Bibliography on Popular Science and Technology Books in all Major Indian Languages". Projects have been supported for 13 languages namely, Assamese, Bengali, Gujarati, Kannada, Malayalam, Manipuri, Nepali, Oriya, Punjabi, Sanskrit, Tamil, Telugu and Hindi. So far 12 project reports have been received which have identified over 20,000 popular S&T books.
  • ‘NCSTC Communications’, the monthly newsletter of NCSTC, completed a decade of its publication.

Environmental Awareness

  • NCSTC has undertaken a campaign to help minimise domestic solid waste using earthworms with active participation of children. To begin with, a four day workshop was conducted in association with Dharamitra, a Wardha based voluntary organisation, during February 16-19,1999. In this workshop, around 25 persons including subject area specialists, artists, educationists, and voluntary activists participated. As an outcome of this workshop, a module was developed to be used in training programmes for resource persons.
  • NCSTC supported an awareness programme on vermitech relating to the importance of earthworms in soil and waste management by involving the Institute of Research in Soil Biology and Biotechnology, Chennai. Under this programme, school children from fifty schools of Chennai having science / nature / eco clubs would be given practical training on setting up of a vermitech units at each school.
  • A manual for organising Nature Activity Camps is in the process of being finalized with the help of Srujanika, a Bhubaneswar based voluntary agency, which is also providing key resource persons for this programme. National level workshops were organised at Kaziranga National Park (Assam), Jagmara, Bhubaneswar (Orissa), and Chennai (Tamil Nadu).
  • State level workshops to train Master Resource Persons for organisation of Nature Activity Camps were conducted in Haryana, Punjab, Uttar Pradesh, Karnataka, Orissa, Tamil Nadu, and Manipur. More would soon be organised in Kerala, Arunachal Pradesh, Bihar, Rajasthan, West Bengal, and Madhya Pradesh.

R&D in S&T Communication

A countrywide survey has been taken up on children's understanding of science, role of S & T, and development of the country. The target group was children of age 15 to 17 years all over the country. To include children belonging to different strata of society, different types of schools such as government, KVS, private, public and girls schools from some 425 districts were selected. In this survey, a sample size of 1,00,000 has been aimed at. The report is expected by February, 2000. The analysis would give an insight on the popularity of science and technology and the role being played by media to popularise science and technology amongst children.

Total Solar Eclipse - 1999

A countrywide campaign jointly with Vigyan Prasar was organised with activities built around the Total Solar Eclipse (TSE 1999) of August 11,1999, in collaboration with State S&T Councils / Departments and UTs during the months of July-August, 1999. The main objective of the programme was to disseminate scientific information regarding the eclipse phenomena and thereby help overcome unscientific beliefs and superstitions associated with them. A few important activities are described here.

A Telescope Making Workshop-cum-Training Programme for students / teachers from NorthEastern States and Sikkim was organised at the NorthEastern Hill University, Shillong. Eighteen teams representing all the States participated in this programme. A similar programme was organised at B.M.Birla Planetarium, Hyderabad, from July 25, 1999, to August 07, 1999. Five teams from Kerala, four teams each from Karnataka and Andhra Pradesh and one team each from Tamil Nadu & Pondicherry participated. Each team consisted of one teacher and two students from the same school. The teams prepared reflecting telescopes, which were presented to them for initiating astronomy activities in their respective schools.

Three Regional training programmes to train Master Resource Persons were organised. For North-Eastern States, Sikkim, Bihar and Uttar Pradesh, the training programme was conducted during June 17-18, 1999, at Bhubaneswar, Orissa . For Northern and Western States including Madhya Pradesh, the programme was conducted at Gandhinagar, Gujarat, during June 23-24, 1999, while for Maharashtra and Southern States, the programme was conducted at Pune during July 3-4, 1999. The programme consisted of lectures / demonstrations on scientific aspects of eclipse phenomena, safe observation of the eclipse and hints / instructions for organising resource persons’ training programmes by the participants within the States / UTs, represented by them.

Five articles were brought out in Hindi and English and distributed as resource material in connection with the Total Solar Eclipse (TSE-99). These included Eclipses of the Sun; The Nature of the Universe; The Sun; Eye, Vision & Solar Eclipse; and Total Solar Eclipse of August 11, 1999. Also brought out were an activity kit with a tested safe solar filter, a greeting card with an in-built solar filter, and a CD-ROM on eclipse phenomena. Publications and TV programmes produced during the earlier event and appropriately modified were also made use of.

The first three winners at the state level competitions for school children received, as a prize, a visit to a location on the belt of totality from where TSE could be observed. The location selected was Lakhpat in Kachch with base camp at Bhuj, both in Gujarat. About 120 children from 23 States / UTs participated. It was, however, unfortunate that the cloudy weather prevented the members of the expedition from watching the TSE. The participants were presented with the software brought out by NCSTC and Vigyan Prasar.

The Indian Air Force (IAF), on a request from Vigyan Prasar, agreed to join hands to mount a mission for video filming of the TSE aboard its aircraft. Camera teams from Vigyan Prasar, Doordarshan, CIET / NCERT and EMPC / IGNOU recorded the Total Solar Eclipse using video cameras on board a transport aircraft AN-32 of the IAF which made a special flight across the belt of totality. The shots taken at a height of 24000 feet of TSE were shown on DD-1 (national network) the same evening at 2240 hrs. MiG 25 aircraft, unfortunately, could not take off for the mission due to a technical snag.

Emergence of Modern Science

A new initiative in the form of a countrywide campaign jointly with Vigyan Prasar titled "Emergence of Modern Science" has been taken up marking the centenary of the golden decade 1895-1905 in which fundamental scientific discoveries and important technological developments took place. The campaign involves students / teachers / general community and is being organised in collaboration with State S&T Councils / Departments and voluntary organisations. Also envisaged are training programmes for resource persons and development / production of resource materials. Efforts are underway to produce a 52-part radio serial on the same theme.

National Science Day:

The month long celebrations throughout the country organised as part of National Science Day (NSD) programme culminated on February 28, 1999. The main function was organised at Technology Bhawan, New Delhi. Mr. S. Rajagopalan, Chairman and Managing Director, Mahanagar Telephone Nigam Limited (MTNL), delivered the National Science Day Lecture on "Convergences that are happening in the Communication Sector". National Science Day was also celebrated all over the country. As per information received from Tamil Nadu, Rajasthan, Manipur, Madhya Pradesh, Orissa, Kerala, Assam, Uttar Pradesh, Bihar, Arunachal Pradesh, Sikkim, Punjab, Tripper and Harlan, many programmes like lectures, seminars, essay writing, quizzes, drawing competitions and activity corners were organised as part of NSD celebrations. NCSTC organised a Health Check-up for over 500 DST / DSIR employees and a science drama competition for KVS schools during February 24-26, 1999, at Technology Bhawan. The prize winning dramas were presented during the main NSD function at Technology Bahaman.

National Awards on S&T Popularisation

The National Award of Rs. 1,00,000/- (General Category) was given away to Mr. M.A. Sethu Rao of Bangalore. The National Award of Rs. 50,000/- for popularising science through media was given away to Dr. Bijoy Krishan Dev Sharma of Shillong, while the National Award of Rs. 50,000/- for popularisation of science among children was given away to Srujanika, a Bhubaneswar based voluntary organisation.

Seventh Coordination Meeting of State S&T Councils/Departments

NCSTC organised the Seventh Coordination Meeting with the State S&T Councils on science technology communication and popularisation at New Delhi on July 21-22, 1999. Participants representing twenty-two states and union territories deliberated on various aspects of science popularisation activities. Representatives of some of the national level agencies/institutes including University Grants Commission, All India Council of Technical Education, National Council of Educational Research and Training, National Institute of Science Communication & Vigyan Prasar interacted with participants through formal presentations, exhibitions and informal discussions. A poster exhibition on "History of S&T in India" was set up at the venue. The meeting concluded with recommendations on action plans for science popularisation in the states and union territories.

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