Pune: Swapnil Chavan, a standard VII student of a school from Parbhani could not hide his excitement when he saw how the Foucault pendulum works that demonstrate the diurnal rotation of the earth. He said, “Initially, I had no interest in coming to Pune as I am interested in joining Indian Army. But after watching various activities here at Inter-University Centre for Astronomy and Astrophysics (IUCAA), I have decided to change my plans.”
Like Swapnil, there were some 60 students who had similar sentiments when they spent their entire day at IUCAA. These children had travelled overnight from Parbhani just to attend the open science day at IUCAA.
“For last 10 years, we select 60 students from some 20 schools (three from a school) who show interest in science. We conduct a test for the students and select the three best and bring them to Pune every year on National Science Day,” said Sudhir Sonunkar, member of Parbhani Astronomical Society.
Dr Rameshwar Naik founded the society after he visited the open day at IUCAA in 2002. He said, “I was posted at Sasson General Hospital and got the opportunity to visit IUCAA. There I realised that there is no exposure for students from my city to science and technology. Later, I discussed this with my friends and we came together to form the society.”
Sonunkar said, “We contribute towards their expenses. We stay at Ranjangaon and come to Pune early morning. We have a few friends who also help us either by inviting us for meals or making stay arrangements. The children belong to age group of 13 to 15 and are from standard VII, VIII and IX,” said Sonunkar.
“Among other activities that the society carries out are conducting telescope making workshops, lectures, hands on experiment workshops etc. We also conduct a special meeting on special days like the Blue Moon event that took place in January or meteor shower,” added Sonunukar.