Undoubtedly, a significant fraction of children’s schooling involves the learning, and hopefully experimentation, of Science. The Sciences are connected to all aspects of life, even for youth who are not planning to pursue them directly for their future professions. To understand the world of Science opens up a vast world of opportunities and reduces the intimidation some might feel toward the subject. Shikshaniketan School of Tilonia, Rajasthan just completed its first endeavour with a year-end Science Fair, and the results were overall very positive.

The children’s projects as a whole turned out interesting, and evidently, students attempted to think outside the box with their projects. Students had gained confidence while presenting thanks to the assistance of TFI volunteers who trained the students with presentation skills beforehand. Each student was responsible for delivering 9 times their ten-minute presentations all in the span of 2 hours. The children energetically spoke to their audience and engaged with them, despite the fact that it took place in a sweltering room crowded with onlookers.

For starters, the children were encouraged to use mostly recycled materials to construct their experiments, encouraging a reduction in waste. Some of the projects included hemoglobin testing, water-testing, interactive periscopes made as a STEAM activity that kids attending could use, and a garbage collection installation with the purpose of spreading awareness about waste. The Science Fair also included a puppet show, where the puppets spoke about the Science Fair. The experiments served as good examples of what could be included in the curriculum at Shikshaniketan.

More than 320 participants were present, including youth from our residential schools; Singla, Chhota Narena and Govardhanpura. Despite the large turnout, the crowd was managed in clockwork fashion. Bunker Roy also made an appearance, which excited the students and teachers alike.

Overall, the progress in education of this kind has exceeded expectations, and there will continue to be Science Fairs at the end of each school year. The Fairs would improve with more participation from the parents of Shikshaniketan students, which could be fixed by having the Fair before year-end exams.

Reduction in the amount of technical glitches for films and galleries will help to improve the quality of presentations while encouraging more imagination with projects will also benefit the students. Finally, only 20% of presenters were female, which should be addressed to become a more balanced number for future Fairs.

When Meagan Fallone, Barefoot College CEO, recently asked the children what their favourite subject in school was, many answered “Science”. This is definitely evidence that the students at Shikshaniketan are influenced by the current classes pertaining to the Sciences. She had challenged the students to create hands-on imaginative Science projects. If they did, they’d win a school trip. One promise was kept, and so will be the other- the students have won themselves a field trip for their constructive efforts!

Science fairs can inspire children to get excited about creating their own projects, and actively explore avenues that some classes don’t offer enough time for. They also increase children’s abilities to navigate in the world, while enriching their scope of knowledge. The Fair has generally been seen as a success that will be repeated in proceeding years. Staff including Durga Singhji, Sayali Gokhale, Prayag Ichangimath, Dipon Deb and Dheeraj Dheeru and the entire team at Shikshaniketan helped to make this fair a reality, and they are thanked for their efforts and contributions.

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(P.C. Stella Morielli)