A virtual science lab

RC Jalna Midtown President Anup Karwa presents a demo of the virtual science lab to PRIP Kalyan Banerjee. DG Vyankatesh Channa (right) is also present.
RC Jalna Midtown President Anup Karwa presents a demo of the virtual science lab to PRIP Kalyan Banerjee. DG Vyankatesh Channa (right) is also present.

Once while traveling from New Delhi airport Anup Karwa, President of RC Jalna Midtown, was struck by a simulation kiosk that the Indian Air Force had set up there to provide an opportunity to young travellers to explore how an aeroplane operates. A small two-computer desk could provide simulated learning on aerodynamics “and this was so inspiring that it made me think about so many things that affect our education ­system,”
he recalls.

He realised that while private schools can make available the resources necessary to satisfy the young students’ curiosity on so many things, particularly science, government schools were struggling to provide even decent basic education. “My mind started exploring new thoughts on how to empower at least some Government schools with such tools by expanding the scope for learning in physics, chemistry and biology. Inspired by two legends, former ­President of India Dr APJ Kalam for his devotion to science, and Past RI President Kalyan ­Banerjee for his exemplary guidance to the Rotary India Literacy Mission, RC Jalna ­Midtown thought of a project to empower the next generation of Indian students with science-savvy tools to kindle an interest in them to pursue a career in science,” says Karwa.

If I need some information or try to understand something, I ask my 11-year-old grandson and he does it in a few seconds. That amazes me, and I am really proud of you youngsters’ intelligence and IT awareness.
– Kalyan Banerjee, Past RI President

The result was the creation of a lab project named after Dr Kalam, “which is a disruptive virtual simulation lab project that can be accessed digitally from any computer or tablet; it just requires a standard PC with an internet connection.” Named Kalam Kids, this virtual lab has been developed by a Danish partner and can enrol a high number of students at an affordable annual subscription. “This tool has bagged many innovation awards including the disruptive technology featured in TED talk,” he adds.

Inaugurating the first lab at the RHV English School in Jalna, PRIP Banerjee said he was amazed by the computer savviness of the young generation, including the kids at the seven schools who had come for the event. “It has revealed to me how closely connected our younger generation is to everything that has to do with computers. Most of the students we have here are interested, committed, and are obviously enjoying their engagement with computers.”

PRIP Kalyan Banerjee speaking at the inaugural of the Kalam Kids science lab.
PRIP Kalyan Banerjee speaking at the inaugural of the Kalam Kids science lab.

But most of the people who are “two generations older, like I am, are not only at sea but also a little scared of IT and try to stay away. If I need some information or try to understand something, I ask my 11-year-old grandson and he does it in a few seconds. That amazes me, and I am really proud of you youngsters’ intelligence and IT awareness.”

He had been asked to speak on how to build young leaders. “My own experience is that it doesn’t matter if you are not rich. I know young billionaires of today who are hardly 22; they wear jeans and tee shirts, but have 10 times more money than I could ever make! So intelligence gets you there, but along with hard work, honestly and sincerity.”

kids-computers

Laying stress on integrity and honesty, Banerjee related one of the less known stories from Gandhiji’s life. When he was in the Nagpur jail, ­Kasturba visited him every day. Once, during such a visit, the jail representative went out and returned after 20 minutes, and found the two holding hands but not talking. When he expressed surprise, Gandhiji told him that according to the prison rules, they could talk only in front of a prison representative. “Since you went out for a while, we stopped talking”, he said.

“Now this is real honesty; it comes from inside,” Banerjee added.

Project Chair Rtn Anuj Bansal said that thanks to the low cost of internet connectivity, it is now possible for a larger population to “adopt such cutting edge tools to generate more scientists for tomorrow.”

He added that their club wants to empower government schools of Jalna region by providing them with a PC with secure internet connection and such a virtual lab with a licensed subscription that can provide access to over 31 scientific experiments in physics, chemistry and biology.

The kit comes with theory and quiz questions to test the conceptual understanding of students, is interactive, and has advanced lab simulations based on mathematical algorithms that support open-ended investigations. It also has components such as storytelling and a scoring system which stimulates  curiosity and highlights the connection between science and the real world, added Karwa. Rotarians Suraj Gehi and Deepank Agarwal are closely involved in putting this project together.

Kalam Kids features:

  • 31 unique PCB interactive lab simulations.
  • A curriculum developed by scientists from Harvard, Cambridge, Imperial College, Danish and MIT, USA.
  • Students can perform science experiments virtually
  • Needs just a tablet or PC with internet connectivity.
  • Ideal for students of Class 5 and higher levels.
  • Special subscription package for Rotarians, government schools

For more details contact  anupkarwa@gmail.com

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