By Vinod Varshney
Delhi school children are all set to break a world record on December 7 by conducting two science practicals, both related to catalysis, a wonderful process which makes chemical reactions faster without any additional input of energy. The process is extensively used in manufacture of some 90 percent products that the world uses today.
Before the experiment, Dr I Anitha, an associate professor of chemistry in Maharaja’s College, Ernakulam would teach the theory of catalysis and its uses for one hour. Then, Ammu Rosin Jose and Shalini Menon, both CSIR research fellows in the Cochin University of Science & Technology, Cochin would demonstrate the practicals which would be followed by students on their respective practical tables allotted to them.
This largest-ever science teaching session along with the practical to be done simultaneously by 2,000 students has been meticulously planned by the organizers of the India International Science Festival, which is being held from 4 to 8 December in the Indian Institute of Technology, Delhi.
Prof K Girish Kumar, senior professor of chemistry in Cochin University of S&T, who is coordinating the mega event told that the original plan was to pick students from all over the country but that required massive coordination, logistics and training efforts for which the time was not available, so finally it was restricted to the Delhi school children. Forty Delhi schools, both private and government, have been selected to send 50 students each for the event. The students are of the 9th to 12th standard.
Prof Kumar told that the largest practical science lesson before this proposed event was conducted at the Odyssey Arena in Belfast on February 24 this year only. The Guinness Book of Records tells that 1,339 primary school students, of 7th and 8th standard from Belfast participated in a mass chromatography practical. That effort was supported and conducted by The Royal Society of Chemistry, London.
Thus Indian students would be breaking not only the Guinness World Record, but also of the Royal Society of Chemistry.
Huge screens are being set up for 2,000 students to view the teachers, teaching and conducting practicals. To conduct the practical five students each would be sharing a table with equipments and chemicals. There will be 40 stewards to observe students’ work, who would be witnesses to affirm that students did complete the experiment successfully. After which they would report their accomplishment to the representatives of the Guinness Book of World Records.
The event would create a model for teachers also on how to ignite interest and curiosity among students to learn science better, says Prof Girish Kumar.