Wednesday, 31 October 2012

What do I do at Science Express?

One of Science Express - Biodiversity Special's Science Communicator (Ebin Abraham) thought of sharing his 'till date journey' with this special train. 
In a short manner, he has well tried to share, "What do I do exactly at Science Express?"

Why did you join SEBS? 
(We have been asked many times the above question (including self), and in future also we will be answering for same.)  
I tried to explain, “I joined the SEBS because I am having interest in Science; love to upgrade myself with ongoing advances of Science and technology, I feel that Science Express can be a good platform where I can directly interact with many at a time. The whole idea of working with Science Train thrills me”.

Having interest in Science that too with adventurous soul; couldn’t resist being part of Science Express - biodiversity special. Needless to clarify what Science Express is all about?

Science Express – Biodiversity Special is travelling across India to spread and share the richness of Biodiversity. My role at SEBS is to explain and exchange knowledge whoever come and interested. Personally, I believe it’s a unique experiment; having conversation with different people from different region of India (Science Express is planned to travel 52 locations across India). Of course, after all it’s all about biodiversity.  Due to my education and few research works on biodiversity, I am quite knowledgeable of Biodiversity, Climate change and many other related topics. But SEBS has provided a platform, where I could actually emerge with my knowledge more profoundly.

So what do I (we) do at Science Express?

The usual role of mine is to be available at assigned coach, give brief to the visitors about particular region and to make them aware what all are there at exhibit. Often the discussion goes more in precise, based on individual interest. In case of request for additional information more than what I (we) can provide, we facilitate with ‘question slip’.

Apart from this usual process, SEBS does extra activities like,
Teacher’s training workshops – understanding Mathematics and Biodiversity concepts more with practical and presentations , 
Hands-on practical for school students at Joy of Science Lab,
Platform activities – open for all,
Out-reach activity for schools – assigned Science Communicator will actually visit the school and share the knowledge of Biodiversity along with various science topics.
Name it, we just do it.

A day at SEBS passes with few good, few unlikely and sometimes entrancing experience (usually with students). I would like to share here one of my experience with some teachers during Biodiversity workshop which we conducted at Jabalpur station. I presented biodiversity facts related with flora and fauna of Madhya Pradesh region; which falls under two biogeography zone Semi Arid and Deccan Peninsula region. Nearly 22 teachers participated, and everyone was almost amazed after knowing the fact that MP is known as the ‘Medical Hub of India’. Many of them agreed with it, few of them also shared their use of such plants as medicine in daily life. The discussion was also lead to the current conservation issues; concentrating more for Madhya Pradesh region.  

Such Workshops are our side-activities; but the main challenge or let me say most lively part of the day is to be available at assigned coach of Exhibition. Science Express – Biodiversity Special has total 12 coaches, where per coach the Biodiversity of India has been displayed of different region. Apart of Biodiversity Energy, Petrol and water Conservation having a dedicated coach and Climate change and Global warming is also depicted in one coach. Well, so we usually are assigned to different coach and of course it gets changes frequently. We all, generally share the knowledge of assigned region; try to guide especially students and teachers. We usually end up meeting at least one visitor, who left us surprised, amused by his/her genuine curiosity and quest for science. Of course vise versa events also happens, but when we recall our experience at end of day; such little stars realizes us worth and privilege of being Science Communicators.

Once I was assigned to Coach 10, which represents ‘Climate change and Water Conservation’. Due to my own interest frequently I end up inquiring people what exactly they have learnt from Science Express, or which topic of SEBS attracted them most? In this process, once it happened to meet one boy must be nearly 10-12 years, might be studying in 5-6 standard. He said, he enjoyed most visiting coach 9 which is for ‘Energy and Water conservation’; where many ideas are shown via models and videos to conserve energy and water.  That boy shared that, he spent nearly hour to learn/note several ideas of the same. Addition to that, he also added that he will surely follow the footsteps which can reduce the carbon. (Science Express is having one vote model which shows what/how an individual can contribute by different methods). I was thrilled experiencing such maturity and enthusiasm of young student towards climate awareness. Apart from this; he also talked about the other exhibits of SEBS which attracted him.  Experiences of meetings such students and other visitors have became routine with this journey.

Along with this routine, we have to move from one station to another on an average of 3rd or 4th day. Few of our team members used to manage the logistics stuff for us. I have joined SEBS first time, but always have witness that; the previous phase Science Communicators used to join us whenever it is possible and they do help us in our daily activity and our lodging stuff too.

Most of us shares common hobbies like photography, travelling and of course discussion on any topic. Whenever time permits, we planned to visit possibly near place of our stay, we prefer to visit historical places, zoo or museum of so and so location. Few of my colleague loves photography, few of them like to talk about history/tale stories of such places (they actually go and dig the history; how?), few of them be our background entertainer with their gifted voice and few be chorus. Few of like me like prefer just to be commenter or witness of it. It’s actually being difficult for me to put all in short, where each day is new experience. We have experienced till date bunch of many things like over crowd, violence and aggression, appreciation and thanks giving, criticism and advices; political personality to general personality, we receive different response and reactions. Some are disappointing and few are boost to us. We tend to be neutral, of course.

We do have our events and celebration as and when time permits. Recently we cut the cake for SEBS’ 5th birthday on 30th October, 2012.  I would like to share the event we participated at Hyderabad. Being part of SEBS project and also being main representative of SEBS as Science Communicator, we were invited to COP 11 event (Conference Of Parties 11 was the 11th conference organized in between 180 countries’ experts for preserving Biodiversity); which was organized at Hyderabad. Each of us got a chance to attend at least one seminar. First time in my life, I experienced the world level conference. I along with my other colleague attended session of SEBS with documentary presentation tagged as “Tiger In the train”. My other colleague attended ‘Developmental Process and progress of Agriculture activity in ruler areas’. 

We got to know latter on that, many more other sessions were conducted; focused on challenges of climate change, environment effects on Biodiversity, extinct species and their threats etc. Many delegates of COP visited SEBS next day; we interacted with few of them. We came to know about ideas, views related with their on-going efforts and work of biodiversity and wild life projects. I certainly remember one of delegates, who actually contributed in design of SEBS content and design. She shared with us that; she clicked few of photographs which are shown in SEBS exhibition coach for ‘North – East India' , along with the team Wile life Institute of India (WII). The chat continued till few more minutes, and there I was still trying to convinced self ‘the small world’ theory. My mind was yet to relieve of recent incident, and called by few students “Sir, could you help us to understand what this model is all about?”, and there I am; evolving in another diversity day at science express. 

- Ebin Abraham

(Ebin is one of the Science Communicator of SEBS team, who describe travelling as his main hobby. With is calm and friendly nature he can easily mingle with anyone especially with children. 
He consider Science Express journey as his finest experience till date. 

" I have studied Biodiversity and many other topics; but Science Express has provided me a platform to understand it profoundly".)

Wednesday, 3 October 2012

2012 - Celebrating Year of Mathematics

...AS a tribute to Srinivasa Ramanujan - mathamatics wizard, year 2012 is declared as year of Mathematics by Hon'ble Prime Minister Dr. Manmohan Singh. Team of Science Communicators and the authority thought of celebrating the same in different way. Science Express train has an educative training room; which is purposely used for Teacher training, meeting sessions and other events.  Science Communicators shown keen interest. “Maths an interesting learning” must be conducted at Science Express; became conversation piece.   

Tribute to Mathematicians 
Making of "Celebration of Mathematics Year 2012"
What to do? What suppose to be shared/presented? Who would be target audience?  What could be the maximum timeline? How to generate interest in mathematics? What will be the hands-on activities for participants? and etc. Last but not the least, how to manage the regular timeline with Science Express exhibition.

Well, it said “Make a mountain out of a mole hill, can’t make heads or tails of makeup one’s mind”. With the spirit of such lively mind, quickly one by one each ‘Wh’ questioned were disappeared.  Few Science Communicators took the charge initially, remaining choose to manage the exhibition show during the workshop.

AT Khadaki – Pune location the first Mathematics interactive session held between 8 Science Communicators and 20 Primary Mathematics teachers. The response was much appreciating and positive than expected, which gave flame to this creative thought and Science Communicator decided to continue the same at each station at least with one program. 

This activity became so interesting that teachers started demanding for more such programs for Maths as well as for Biodiversity, which of-course was taken up as a sincere effort and delivered too.

Brief of Program:
Two Mathematics and One Biodiversity Workshop has been conducted successfully so far and few more are on pipeline.

>   Being familiar to each other and the brief of total activity
>   Four different subjects were presented by different team member.
>   Mathematics activities: explanations and presentation shared with actual 3-D models.
> Biodiversity workshop: started with the basic knowledge and further taken up to the India as one of the big Biodiversity hot-spots.
>   As a hands-on activity each team member was requested to prepare 3-D model from the 2-D chart. (according to the figure and instructions given on the chart paper)

Science Communicators Presenting 
Session on Biodiversity 
Teachers at hands-on activity 
> At the end-of-session, feedbacks were collected and the participants  were awarded with certificate along with the Mathematics or Biodiversity material kit respectively.

These sessions were throughout monitored and in-charged by Mr. Raghav Pandya (Sr. Science Educator), who is associated with Science Express, since  first phase. For each program, he manages to conduct mock presentation of each Science Communicator with respective presentation. With all required changes and suggestions, he stand there throughout the preparation. His lively and humorous nature almost vanish the burden of program and made it a remarkable knowledge sharing time.

Mr.Raghav Pandya giving certificate and take-away material
The program was initiated, managed and supported by Mr. Sudhir Sharma (Science Express Manager), who has been contributing to Science Express since the day first. He made Joy-of-Science Lab open and main platform for this program, with all the basic need and facilities. He appeals each science communicator to be part of this activity and to give best of oneself; and the ‘high five’ was the immediate respond.