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.

The First 40 hours travel..

I love travelling & It was my first visit to Ahmedabad. I was happy to see the new place, trying to adapt in all new surroundings. The happiness started, when I got selected as  a science communicator for SECAS phase 2 from 17 feb 2017 to 8 sept 2017. I am weaving my own plans to travel across India just for creating scientific temper & reaching millions of people. After completion of our formal training cum orientation, we all from diverse background started to mix with each other, dining together and the best was after full tiring day, the short nightwalk with team fellows was adding more joy & bonding amongt us. Finally, the day has come and all started with good efforts, we completed our formal training before boarding the science express at VASCSC. It was 15 Feb 2017, we reached Gandhinagar station and started waiting for the science express train to come, finally train has arrived, the joy could be seen easily on everyone’s  face for new journey. All jumped to catch their seats. The final good bye & first step towards our journey touched all the emotions.

The day ended with gossiping, settling down, packing unpacking, & other stuffs. But the twist has come when the train started getting late. We had to reach New Delhi SafdarJung for official Flagoff, but we reached late after completing the small journey from Ahmedabad to Delhi in total of 40 hours on 17 Feb around 6 A.M. in the morning. We people inside the train were exhausted but the zeal was inside us to prove our worth.We rushed to our Hotels and just returned back by taking minimum hours. It was a great day, with all pomp & show, the hustle bustle, the flagoff ceremony was completed by wellknown ministers. The train left the Safdarjung Station & reached to Delhi Cantt. mob was already waiting eagerly to catch the glimpse of Science Express Climate Action Special phase 2. The day ended with heart warming new experiences with addition of new memories in the new chapter of my life.

10 April 2017

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

Reema Jaiswal, Science Communicator in SECAS, 2017. The hybrid girl with typical mix of U.P. & Bengali culture loves to say “HUM”. But she is a post graduate in Physics with a degree in Science Communication, came to Science Express to challenge her capabilities & explore the different outlook from outside classroom learning, to recieve the value of handson learning by doing with people especially children. Kidszone is her favourite place to make best out of waste. 

Express Management 101

Accept the challenges so that you can feel the exhilaration of victory- George S. Patton

It’s not very easy to write about my journey on-board science express. My colleague, Rituja, has helped me by offering few question- “Sir, you can give your sharing on these questions, i.e. Challenges to a manager?  Challenges with communicators? Challenges with VIPs?”

Every day, with so many things happening, neither by invalidating nor proving right or wrong, and remaining a witness, feeling responsible, and feeling like I am involved in the cause in all matters on-board, is a unique experience. Where I do not know what drama or play is waiting for us to act on, to deal with an out of order situation, and having limited but powerful resources to encounter these issues, whatsoever challenges come in our ways, undoubtedly, the focus remains. The ultimate focus for me is to take every one in a single caravan to change the climate in this edition.

For me, it is important to maintain the harmony at all levels having all team members, core exhibition groups and support staff works in one loop where integrity lies in the centre which enhances their work efficiency.

In my words, I feel happy when I see communicators trying new approach and innovative ways of presenting content with appropriate stock of words, dialogues and applying sense of humor. They show presence of mind with factual detailed knowledge on topics that really creates a positive aura where not only do they enjoy but their experience reaches a new level where they cannot express their happiness by words. That can only be owned.

I understood that when the communicators urged me to stand by their side for everything, it is not only their feelings, but their indirect love and care for me.

Speaking on VIP’s part, it is something very difficult because it seems that most of the time they have been nicely conducted throughout the exhibition by the team, speaking good things about the project. It impresses me when they share their time on work done for societies’ benefits and development which creates a difference. In my view, their self expression speaks more than words.

Interestingly, I found that all my teammates wanted to see me acting above all hurdles and ups & downs. That is my real energy source. Science express drives me through with all of this which remains the secret of my survival here.

So one in all, Science Express has remained kind to me in all my avenues of learning.

Raghav Pandya- As shared with the SECAS Blog Team: Nitin, Yasha and Ritu!

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(Raghav Sir has been the backbone of the SECAS. Being a manager and an on-board member, he has kept the integrity among the team. Devouring sweets and encouraging us from time to time, he has been more of a mentor and a trainer for us than a manager. His brisk walking has proven a great challenge for many a tall people to put up with! Raghav Sir has let us cherish our hobbies and taught us to love the train by preaching what he teaches.)

For the ball is in our courts

One of the major critical impacts of plastics on environment is when animals such as cattle swallow it for food. It remains unprocessed in their rumen, leading to fatalities. I witnessed one such sight in Hapa when we were having our breakfast outside the deserted station. A cow was chewing an empty plastic bag. I was sitting with my colleague, Sagar W. and he too agreed that it was sad seeing those animals eating the polythene.

On board, in our train, we implore people to not use the thin plastic bags, the ones lesser than 20 microns. I wonder how much of what we say is really heard and done. However, this was not a time to feel dejected. It was the time to act upon all those advice we have given to people for the past seven months. We showed the poor animal to the Chaiwala Bhaiyya. I explained to him in the simplest manner what happens when a cow or any other animal swallows a plastic bag. He seemed to ponder upon on what I said. Then in despair, he asks, “Ben, then what solution do you propose? What is it that I can do to not let this happen?”

We looked at each other for some seconds and then we spoke up. We told him that if we properly dispose of the plastic garbage in dustbins instead of letting them lay in open heaps, it wouldn’t be much of an open invitation to those animals. We then went on explaining how this could also be a solution to the insanitary conditions in India.

What he did next brought tears to my eyes!

He set the kettle of tea aside from the flame, got down the dais and bent down to pick up all the littered discarded milk packets. He collected them all and dumped them in the large garbage bin. After washing and wiping his hands with a kerchief, he went on boiling and making tea.

I guess, our role in this national and global revolutions is much more than just communicating. It is reaching out towards the grass-root and connecting with them. It is stating the problem and giving simple solutions. It is being an integral part of real India and not just clapping on seeing some sentimental documentary. Because in the end it is not at all about sympathy but all about empathy.

Bhawna Jain: As shared with the SECAS Blog Team: Nitin, Yashashree and Ritu!

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(Bhawna is a bubbly girl from Delhi who has completed her Masters in Chemistry. A hard core Vegetarian, she can be seen asking at the hotel reception, “Bhaiyya, yahan non-veg toh milta hai na?” On getting a positive response, she turns on her heels with, “Toh yahan main nahi kha sakti!” She also occasionally cooks in the buffer zone, spreading aroma around the coach much to the envy of other communicators who for the time being are just some other hungry people. 😉

Sporting a strong and unwavering personality, she has a streak of sticking to what she believes in and going after everything she can accomplish.)