Joy of doing science for wellbeing of people & humanity
The seventh edition of the India International Science Festival (ISSF 2021) concluded on the December 13, 2021, yet the excitement of the festival is still afresh in the hearts of the people who attended the grand festival held in Goa. Apart from hosting the inaugural and valedictory sessions of the Science Festival, I had the privilege of covering the 4-day event on behalf of Nation's Science Channel - India Science. IISF 2021 was organized in hybrid mode in which students, the public, researchers, innovators, scientists and artists from around the globe came together to experience the joy of doing science for the wellbeing of people and humanity. Apart from the special programs showcasing Indian science and technology, the event was also successful in presenting an interesting confluence of science and traditional art and craft. Let's take you once again to Goa to witness some interesting highlights of the ISSF 2021.
The theme of IISF 2021 was 'celebrating creativity in science, technology and innovation for prosperous India'. As part of the theme, all IISF 2021 programs reflected the spirit and idea of Aazadi ka Amrit Mahotsav of the government of India, which aims to mark 75 glorious years of India's Independence in 2022, through a series of cultural and scientific events conducted by various ministries across the country. To mark the 75th year of India's independence, programs were classified into five categories - [email protected] 75, achievements @ 75, actions @ 75 and resolves @ 75 and freedom struggle. There were 12 events organized successfully under the theme. These include - science film festival, science literature festival, engineering students festival, science village festival, traditional crafts and artisans festival, Guinness Book of world records, festival of games and toys, global Indian scientists and technocrats meet, eco-festival, new age technology show, and, the national social organizations and institutions meet.
International science film festival attracted the youth and especially students of mass communication. This time, around 100 films from 25 countries were screened. With a special focus on rural India and the environment, the films at the festival showcased eco-friendly solutions for agriculture. Along with the several departments of the government of India, units related to science and technology from different states, also put up their stalls at the festival. The seventh edition of the India International Science Festival saw the participation of more than 10 thousand people at the venue. The Hybrid Science Festival, also saw about 20 thousand people joining in virtually.
Since its inception, IISF has brought different subjects under the arena of science and technology to attract the attention of the general public events like 'Vigyanika' have made this inclusion a successful endeavour. It is my privilege to share that I had this opportunity to coin the term 'Vigyanika' which means poetry of science. Popularizing science through literature is the main objective of Vigyanika. This science poetry-based event remained a major attraction at the festival.
Three Guinness world records at IISF-2021: The tradition of setting Guinness world records continued even in the seventh India international science festival. Indian students registered three world records for the country by participating in three unique science-based activities. Children participated in the Gaganyaan rocket assembling activity, the rain water harvesting kit assembling activity and the largest space exploration lesson.
Escalating the excitement of India's ambitious upcoming manned space mission – Gaganyaan -a record was created for the largest number of rocket kits assembled and successfully launched by the largest number of people at one place. For this record, a total of 531 class XI students from 11 schools in Goa assembled a Gaganyaan rocket model kit with 20 different components over two hours. All the children showed great enthusiasm for the record making activity. The event started with ISRO scientists providing exciting information related to the GSLV rocket to the children. Apart from the organisers, representatives and observers of the Guinness Book of world records were also present on the occasion. As soon as the signal was received, the children started assembling the rockets. Around 500 children successfully assembled the rockets, setting the stage to launch these rockets. These rocket models were launched from 15 launch pads that had been prepared by the organisers. As many as 496 models had a successful launch, creating a world record of its kind.
On the second day of the festival, an awareness activity towards environmental protection was held for the children. This effort saw a record-breaking number of people assembling rain water harvesting kits in one place. The event was organized in hybrid mode, with 940 students physically present at the venue, and around 3000 students from different cities in the country participating online. The children assembled an especially designed rain water harvesting and water purification kit. In all, 2632 students were successful in assembling both the kits, creating another unique world record.
The third Guinness world record created in the festival was for the largest space exploration lesson. This effort involved more than 1100 students from Goa and other parts of the country. Children were given an exciting lesson about the mysteries of space. Along with this lesson, an activity of assembling a 3D model of the Giant Meterwave Radio Telescope - GMRT - was also conducted. 1002 children were successful in completing the lesson and activity, creating a new world record.
Setting a Guinness world record is an extremely challenging task. For this, the representatives of IISF first select the activities in collaboration with the Guinness book of world records, then select the schools and participants, and provide them training kits. This time around nine thousand children were added via hybrid mode, and after being selected they were given training.
With the three new world records made at IISF-2021, India's name has once again entered in the Guinness book of world records. The record creation also gave an opportunity to thousands of children to engage in experimental science activities. This can also be labelled as a successful attempt to introduce our younger generation to India's glorious scientific achievements, and to arouse their interest in science.
Through its various activities and engagement-based programs, IISF-2021 also supported flagship programs like 'Swachchh Bharat Abhiyan', 'Swasth Bharat Abhiyan', 'Make in India', 'Digital India', 'Smart Villages', 'Smart Cities' ' NamamiGange', 'Unnath Bharat Abhiyan', launched by the Government of India over the last seven years. The main objective of this science festival was to promote the use of innovations by people, develop affordable technology that benefits Indian society, and celebrating science with people in India and across the world.
(The author is the Editor of India Science Channel, Vigyan Prasar, DST, Govt of India)