Ambassadors of Nature

Often people have a passion and sometimes they meet their inspiration. We met Sridevi at Virudhunagar, explaining tiny tots in the Kids Zone about optical illusion in Tamil. We understood nothing of the language, but if you see her, you will not need language to understand that she was one of those individuals whose support for bringing a change, for protecting the environment showed in her style of communication.

Since her childhood, she was interested in science and technology and growing up, she had the dream of doing something through which she could serve people. She visited the Science Express Biodiversity Special in 2014 and it gave her a push to pursue her dreams. She went to on to work in the environment field and this year, she volunteered on SECAS on all three days at Virudhunagar. She remembers studying in a Tamil medium government school and the difficulties she faced when people from various organizations from different parts of the country would come and speak to them in English or Hindi. Enthusiastic as they were, at times, the students felt as if they could have learned more if they knew the language and among them was little Sridevi. She says the seeds for love of this earth had been sown when she was a child.

Determined to help, Sridevi decided that the kids of her state would not suffer similar fate; she decided to volunteer for SECAS. On all three days, she woke up at 5 AM, traveled 1.5 hours changing by bus for the first half hour and by train the rest of the journey, to reach Virudhunagar on time. When asked whether she found it tiring, she said if you have the drive to do it, you don’t feel it. Truly, her fluent Tamil and pure intentions, helped kids gain so much more from their Kids Zone experience.

The first time she visited the train, she got a few badges that said ‘Nature protects if she is protected’. download.jpgAll but one were given away to people she wished to inspire; one, she kept. She wears it every day so it bears reminder to her duty towards Mother Nature. She reminds those who ask her about the badge, about their duty that many have seem to forgotten. It is always a delight to meet like-minded individuals like Sridevi. We know she will continue to be inspired by the little wonders of nature and she will inspire many more in her wake.

– SECAS Blog team: Reema Jaiswal, Nitin Tiwane and Guest member, Jigu; as written in appreciation of Sridevi.

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(Sridevi worked with Tamilnadu Forest Dept. as a technical assistant for two years. She has been involved in environment education and awareness activities in many tribal regions. She visited the train for the first time in 2014 and has never missed it ever since. We cherish having such dedicated volunteers with us.)

A Single Spark can start a Forest Fire

Our trip has plenty of candid moments at every location in India. I am contributing this blog to share my marvellous memories beyond my experience with science express, I don’t think I have said ‘wow’ so many times in my life before I have been to this trip, with ‘wow’ moments every turn from different locations to different culture.

I especially loved to interact with the children’s to understand more about their dimensions of thinking and degree of creativeness. Those beautiful and charming bunches were driven by their favourite teacher’s passion. Also I remembered those kids left me surprisingly by their questions and discussions. I can see the future majesty of science in the sparkling eyes of young India while communicating with them. My objectivity about the communication has brought a new perspective in this phase, I’m happy to recall that golden time while it happens on journey day of North Lakhimpur.

Almost every science communicators were resting inside the staff coach, hazy sun almost reaches to the top of solar panel mounted on train which was delayed by an hour and it was difficult to be idle than active; like free neutrons. We saw a group of small kids gazing science express from platform. A single spark can start a forest fire like few of us suddenly started interacting with the kids & underway a group activity on the platform. We conducted a group learning science activity for kids and public. Gradually every science communicator joined and made the time on journey day. The student emerges like honeybees to their hives it was joy of science they found on platform of Helem.   Now , I’m realising that science express never stops disseminating knowledge for the public.

I would only say science is everywhere to communicate, we should develop our zone of communication, travel with open mind and keep your eyes open for those brief moments, when the world unfolds its magic in front of you. Reality is always more surprising and fascinating than fiction.

28 May 2017

–  A. Muthu Dhivakar, as shared with SECAS Blog team 🙂 Reema Jaiswal, Ashish Banoria & Pooshan Agnihotri.

The morning story and the unanswered question…

The routine that to follow aboard science express is the morning assembly inside the coach and then departing towards our allotted coaches to disseminate the climate change with great enthusiasm to different faces, with different dialects.

So, every morning starts with some stories just to motivate and refuel us with optimism. The new wings of hope, full of energy that can lead to fly high, to succeed in conveying the message of climate change, biodiversity and water.

I could remember the story went this way “A traveller once got lost in a desert and was completely out of water and food. He hastily searched for water hours and hours at a stretch, relentless sun overhead, and his body losing the moisture and his brain signalling him to find slightest possible glimpse of water, the mirages also added to his desperation to drink water, but sigh, no signs of water.

Tired and thirsty he kept moving on, after some time he got a view of a small hut. Now his desire to find water intensified, but after entering that hut, he found no one but a simple hand pump.

He tried and tired off to pump out some water from it, but nothing came out. Feeling sad he sat in a corner. Suddenly he saw a bottle kept on a rack. He quickly got up and grabbed that bottle which was filled with water on which it was written “add this water in the pump and plentiful of water can be pumped out”.

After reading this he got into a dilemma whether to drink that water and quench his thirst or to follow the instructions written on the bottle. Thinking for quite some time on the options, he decided to follow the instructions. And as it was written, he pumped out plentiful amount of water from the pump, drank much to quench his thirst, filled his bottles and was happy and satisfied.

He filled that bottle too, wrote a message below the previous “keep faith, you can pump out plenty of water”.

I don’t know about the moral, but yes regarding that “unanswered question” which was written on the board of teacher orientation hall, “To be or not to be, that is the question”.

There are many instances in our life when we have to make a choice that put us through a series of thoughts, evaluations and calculations. There arises more questions: whether to follow the heart or the brain, to risk actions following intuitions or to prioritize, analyse and scrutinize the situation and move forward. But, still at times, there do arise worries, regrets, joy and happiness, remorse or even anxiety resulting from the decisions we take or the choices made.

Yes, choices are not only factor for such emotions, but very often we come face to face with situations or incidents that are beyond our control, they happen for reasons unknown. For instance, we do not get to make a choice regarding the place of our birth. Still the choices we make and the decisions we take govern our lives.

This reminds me of a famous quote:

“Your story may not have such a happy beginning but that does not make you who you are, it is the rest of it- who you choose to be” – Soothsayer to Po from Kung fu Panda 2.

It’s all a matter of our thoughts that we keep in our mind even while we work. It is very well said that ‘To make something special, you just have to believe it to be special’.

This is what life is. Life is a pursuit, it’s a search. Everyone has had a different upbringing and different atmosphere growing up where they were forced to make some unique choices and decisions. Such things are generally considered as a part of our life.

After all the question may have many answers, everyone has their own perspective and present their own answer, yet it remains unanswered.

13 May 2017

-Harin Patel, as shared with SECAS Blog team 🙂 Reema Jaiswal, Ashish Banoria & Pooshan Agnihotri.

Learning on Wheels

The idea of mobile education has always fascinated me. This is mainly because it is a great combination of two things- teaching and travelling (2 things that I love doing the most!). Education on wheels is a great way to teach and reach out to the masses in areas you never imagined you would go. It actually increases your handprint in creating an impact on the lives of people. Science Express is one such brilliant example of education on wheels. This train has been an ideal workplace for me for the past 25 days. I had a great opportunity to interact with the young and energetic science communicators on board, teach the locals and travel through the picturesque North East India.

Each year, for about 7-8 months, Science Express runs across India with an objective to spread awareness on environment and educate young minds. The train travels through a mix of rural and urban areas of our country. Although I have believed that learning knows no bounds, my faith in it increased almost twice after teaching kids on the train. Many of the kids that visit this educational-exhibition train have their own set of experiences and are in no way ‘uneducated’. Having always taught only the privileged students, I have completely enjoyed teaching these ‘different’ but awesome kids during the journey. These are the kids who don’t have access to good education or classrooms or facilities. It is so wonderful to see the spark in their eyes when they see the exhibits on train or interact with communicators and ask questions.

In a diverse country like India, language definitely plays an important role in communication and sometimes becomes a barrier. Nonetheless, it is very surprising to see that kids (or even adults) don’t stop learning only because of language comprehension. This is the magic of curious minds! The journey on Science Express is a unique learning process for everyone. Adapting to live in adverse climatic conditions, eating food that you’re not used to, going to small and less developed towns, communicating with people just to ensure that you spread the correct message across, etc are some of the things that one learns. A normal day of a science communicator would start very early (sometimes even before the sunrises!) just to explore the town, followed by 7-8 hours of challenging exhibition work, then a team meeting and the day ends with some exploring again or relaxing at the hotel. Each day is a new adventure for all people on board and I also had many such experiences although it has been only 25 days. From all the adventure I had, I’ll never forget the moment on a pitch dark night when I experienced the thrill of catching the train and getting on it after it had already started running!! The friends made, experiences lived, things learned and places visited during the journey will be always be a great tale to be told; for each and everyone who has been a part of this train. Truly a once in a lifetime experience.

North East India is well known for its rare and wide variety of flora and fauna. This phase of Science Express in its Coach 4 talks about how the beautiful and rich biodiversity here is gradually getting affected by the constant climate change. As I have now travelled through this area, I can say that I have witnessed the effects of this change. We all know we must do our bit in saving our environment, we also know how to do it and the steps that should be taken. Act now!

23 April 2017

Heti Trivedi : Programme Officer – Scientist B, Vikram A Sarabhai Community Science Centre.

Blog shared with SECAS Blog team 🙂 Reema Jaiswal, Ashish Banoria & Pooshan Agnihotri.

 

 

“Parasmani”

“SECAS – ‘Science Express Climate Action Special’ is indeed a “Parasmani” to transform our planet from a burning planet Earth to a sustainable planet Earth wherein all the Species on the planet can flourish in harmony and peace. It is a way to control human greed and check on unnecessary exploitation of natural resources. The exhibits sensitize you with the sufferings of species ranging from coral reefs and turtles to polar bears, reptiles and tigers. It is like a ‘live’ book to educate yourself about the precious ‘bio resources’ which make life possible on our planet and not anywhere else in the universe. Along with empathy for the flora and fauna, it generates a sense of responsibility towards the ‘inanimate’ elements of nature like atmosphere, rivers and oceans that have suffered due to unsustainable development of yesteryears. The policies framed by the honourable Government of India to curb such random and unthoughtful acts as well as promotion of ‘sustainable development’ through ‘smart cities’, ‘renewable energy’ etc. is the heart of the exhibition. Moreover, you will get the exposure of India’s stand on ‘Climate Action’ at the International level in IPCC (Inter-Governmental Panel on Climate Change). It not only creates admiration for the beauty of the blue planet ‘Earth’ but also invokes a sense of responsibility in an individual to maintain it for the coming generations.

Besides the exhibits cultivate a deep insight into scientific innovations in the field of Bioscience, Biotechnology and Biomedical engineering which are the future of healthcare industry. The magic of augmented reality and boons of 3D printing are showcased aesthetically to please the today’s technocrat generation. The technological innovations pursued by the common people displayed by National Innovation Foundation are a live evidence of the dexterity that is in the DNA of us ‘Indians’. Besides you can have hands-on experience experimenting like a young scientist in the ‘Joy of Science’ lab. The teachers discover new scientific facts and figures from the inspiring orientation programmes. For kids, the fun never ends in the Kid’s zone playing with simple yet scientific toys which the kids assemble and make for themselves.”

11 April 2017

-Mohin Sapara: Science Communicator on Science Express Phase 7

As shared with SECAS Blog team 🙂 Reema Jaiswal, Ashish Banoria & Pooshan Agnihotri.

Logic Stuck…

Travelling through Indian sub-continent and that too for special purpose makes the journey most stupendous, fantabulastic and thought-provoking. The vital part of our daily routine life were ‘check-ins’ & ‘check-outs’ as occurs in the materialistic lifeforms. One of the most fabulous work aboard is ‘Advance Logistics’ which varies from station to station, person to person, time to time, hour to hours, and second to second.

I am in the orbit of White Majesty since last three phases traveling across India on Indian railway tracks. I was so lucky to be a part of logistics team in sighting the mesmerising north, central highland, northeast and western part of India. What I could say about them is that, my exposure to them was a roller-coaster ride.

There have been situations when we explored each and every single place of the city and yet didn’t find a single brick to shelter our team. Sometimes, there are situations when the White Majesty is in trouble and you could be the one, who can play a vital role in serving her.

It was the experience of first phase (SEBS), when the White Majesty turned “grey” because of cement on each and every part of it. Everybody could smell the cement in air and normal temperature of train was above the limiting temperature, thanks to choked ACs. Coordinating with authorities would have been a huge task, when I really slept well after that sleepless night.

This year I went to Kashmir (Udhampur & Katra) in advance. The minute I landed my feet at Udhampur, the number ‘144’ was waiting for me. If you are talking about Kashmir ‘144’ is not a number, it is a part of life and I felt it too. Coordinating with resources and authorities were tough but not impossible.

 Me and my team felt the same at Katra, when on the last day of exhibition, section ‘144’ was imposed. As I was the logistics guy there, it was really tough to take the call but, I was happy that I had completed my task without getting anybody into trouble.

The similar type of feeling, I also got in Salmari (Bihar-NFR). When I was waiting for my White Majesty in the early morning hours at Katihar and I came to know that there was some damage in bogie no. 9, but by God’s grace everything went well and I always hope for the same in future.

‘Logistics’ is always about being “logical”. If your logic stuck then you will crumble. So, all I can say is that “before you grind up, just wind up”…!!!

-Prashant Sharma, as shared with  SECAS Blog team 🙂 Reema Jaiswal, Ashish Banoria & Pooshan Agnihotri.

​Young brains, deep thoughts, deep questions, young intellects

It was somewhat like 4:40 pm and the exhibition of SECAS in Hissar was slowly ending. The queue slowly moving forward, I was standing in the middle of my alloted coach, the ‘International Climate Change Negotiations’ waiting for the visitors to leave the train. Suddenly a small girl may be something from 5th or 6th standard, came to me and asked me a question ‘ Bhaiya, in the universe, the celestial bodies and all such matter of space are made up by cooling of dust, then from where does this dust in space come from?’ It took me a moment to understand her question, uh pretty surprising to hear such a question for a small kid.

I somehow managed to start my explanation, started to it in this manner ” There are small matters of cosmic particles in universe, packed in with enormous amount amount of energy with it, when that energy gets unstable, some kind of explosion takes place and that matter gets scattered in various particles resulting in formation of dust and various other celestial bodies. To support that answer I followed the explanation for that answer by giving the example of the soil formation, that how soil formation is made through weathering of rocks”. I don’t know how right my explanation was but I just wanted to give some answer so that she doesn’t have to leave disappointed. But yes she left saying thank you, seeming satisfied with the answer.

I felt good, drenched in thoughts that a child at such young age having such knowledge about how the universe was formed and also curiosity to know more about it. That small moment, filled with innocence and curiosity was simply enough to relieve all the stress.

-Harin Patel, as shared with SECAS Blog team 🙂 Reema Jaiswal, Ashish Banoria & Pooshan Agnihotri.

Harin Patel- A young boy with bold voice passed B.E. in Mechanical Engineering from Surat is a happy -go- lucky type guy, nicknamed by us as ‘Hiran’ not actually runs too fast but speaks too. He is fun loving & works with true spirit.