Center for Astroparticle Physics and Space Science (CAPSS)


PROBE

(Participation of Youth in Real Time/Field Observations for the Benefit of Education)

Introduction :

One of the primary motivations of Acharya Sir Jagadish Chandra behind the founding of Bose Institute was the widest possible dissemination of scientific knowledge. In his inaugural address on November 30, 1917, dedicating the institute to the Nation, he said, "I have sought permanently to associate the advancement of knowledge with the widest possible civic and public diffusion of it, and this without any academic limitations, henceforth to all races and languages, to both men and women alike, and for all time coming".

To honour this noble legacy, it is incumbent on all of us to try our utmost to spread scientific knowledge to the young students of the region who are not as fortunate as their counterparts in the bigger cities. Any research endeavour in the Eastern Himalayan region must also therefore include a component of an outreach programme to the school and college students of the area, exposing them to the ideas and practice of science. It can confidently be hoped that this would prove to be a valuable investment, if even a small fraction of these students could be inspired to pursue further studies in science and technology.

Objectives of probe :

Brief work report :

An interactive programme with the science students of various schools in the greater Darjeeling area was organised during December 2003. Science students from classes IX and XI from 12 schools and their science teachers (2 students and 1 teacher from each school) were invited to a one-day workshop at Mayapuri campus of Bose Institute. These schools were chosen so as to cover a large range in altitude, from 4500 ft at Lebong to about 8500 ft at Jalapahar and Ghoom. In addition to talks discussing the works of Acharya Jagadish Chandra, several scientists discussed, in very simple terms, the goals of the research programmes being planned at the Centre at Darjeeling. The students were invited to form science clubs in their respective schools and undertake monitoring (and recording) of local weather and meteorological data. It was proposed that they would meet the resident scientists at Bose Institute, Darjeeling at regular intervals who would help them record their data in proper format.

The enthusiasm exhibited by the students was beyond our expectation and a commitment to establish and continue such a programme, with the national facility acting as the Science Resource Centre (SRC), is an urgent task.

Participating Schools :

Total of 18 – 20 schools. 10 schools in Darjeeling town, distributed from Lebong to Jalapahar (so as to cover the entire altitude gradient from 4500 ft to 8000 ft), 2 schools in Ghoom (~ 8400 ft), 1 school in Sonada, 2 schools in Kurseong, 1 school in Mirik, 1 school in Bijonbari and 2 schools in Kalimpong.

Future plan :

Darjeeling provides a unique setting in the sense that the town covers a very large altitude gradient, from the lowest point at Lebong race course (about 4500 ft) to Jalapahar (about 8500 ft) and Ghoom (about 8400 ft), a nearby suburb of Darjeeling. There are several schools distributed over the entire area, many of which offer science courses at the Secondary (Class X) and Higher Secondary (Class XII) levels. We propose to interact with the Principals and Science teachers of these schools, and help them form science clubs at each school. To inspire the students towards a possible career in science, it would be worthwhile to introduce them to some simple but meaningful scientific project work. The weather and climate monitoring at a local level is one such project, which can be started without much problem. This would also provide valuable data on the local variation of weather and the influence of orography thereupon.

It is proposed to form science clubs at a number of schools in the region and train them to record local meteorological data. Regular meetings at a frequency of once a month would be organised at Mayapuri where these data would be recorded in a central database. (These data, properly verified, may then form valuable input for climate modelling studies.)

The participants would also be introduced to the equipments running at Mayapuri. On each occasion, a new low cost experiment dealing with everyday science will be demonstrated. Depending on the interest of the participants, some of them may also be inducted in the cosmic ray experiments, through training in microscopy.

Regular introductory level lectures on various scientific issues of importance to the region as well as topics of general scientific importance would be organised at the Centre, at a frequency of once every two months initially. The resident scientists at the Centre as well as senior scientists present at the Centre at the time would deliver these lectures. Efforts would be made to schedule the visits of senior scientists so that advantage of their presence can be taken for the purpose. There would be popular lectures organised by distinguished scientists (3-4 a year) who would be especially invited for the purpose.

The Department of Science & Technology, Government of India has sanctioned a project proposal along these lines for implementation at the Darjeeling campus of Bose Institute. The project, initially approved for three years, is the vanguard of the PROBE programme in the North East (NE-PROBE).


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