22 Aug

Coimbatore’s love for Science

For a lot of kids, Science is hard, and Math is even harder. In our education system’s framework, all students, regardless of their ability to learn, are strengthened and tested mostly on their memory and content reproduction skills, and not on understanding the concepts. The very nature of this framework is the reason for majority of students to lose interest in these subjects. I have been through the same system, I can say this, and I am sure a lot of you would agree with me on this. Of course there are individual schools and teachers who take up initiatives on their own to educate students in its true spirit.

Most of the affordable private schools and government schools would not have enough funds to invest on a good infrastructure for learning Science. Also reading from the class textbook, over and over again, is not of any help in learning, except that a few facts can be remembered. But if it is only for the remembrance of facts that we learn at School, we might as well google for the facts anytime.

The regional science center in the city is a complete breath of fresh air, a place that certainly will inspire kids and induce interest in Science.

Regional Science center, located on the Avinashi road, right behind Genny’s Club, is one of the lesser known places in Coimbatore. We  have never been short of reasons to feel proud about Coimbatore, and Regional Science Center is just another reason!

The place captivated me right during my very first visit. As a Science enthusiast and educator, I was in awe, looking at the infrastructure and the range of facilities the place had. How could have I missed this lovely place for so long? Ever since my first visit, I have been visiting it frequently and each time I am in, the wonder and enthusiasm always feels like for the first time!

As you walk down the pathway that leads to the entrance, you are greeted with an optical illusion, giving a sense of what awaits you inside! Also as you walk down, you can’t take your eyes off the Science Park that is just outside the main building! I urge you to resist the temptation to go out and play around right away, because that can wait for the last!

As you enter the main hall, there is a huge  ‘Foucault Pendulum’ majestically swinging to and fro. At the first look, it might look like just another pendulum swinging, but there is more to this one: it is a wonderful demonstration of rotation of the planet Earth. You have been told all your life that Earth rotates on its own axis, and you know it for a fact, but how many times have you actually felt it! You can make note of the orientation of the pendulum at the beginning of the trip and when you are about to leave 3 or 4 hours later, observe it again, you will see the orientation has changed:

BINGO – the Earth has indeed rotated a tiny bit!

Dr. T. M. Alagiri Swamy Raju, who is the Project Director at the regional science center, for most of the times is available, and never misses a chance to explain about the Foucault pendulum to the visitors. The way he explains, the analogies he makes use of, one can feel his passion for Science shine through his eyes.

In the first floor, there are tens of hundreds of science concepts displayed in most elegant form of exhibits. There are exhibits demonstrating the fundamental science concepts like reflection, sound, electricity, magnetism, electromagnetism, momentum, force, pressure, Bernoulli’s principle, phosphorescence, center of gravity, inertia and even some math concepts like Pythagorean Theorem and probability and much more! There is also a 3D theater, where exciting educational videos are played out. Needless to say, kids do love it!

A lovely way to get away from the textbook descriptions and definitions of the concepts and see them in action.

In another hall, there are exhibits demonstrating how stuffs work, right from as simple as levers and pulleys to more complex things like vehicle engines and rockets. If a kid has always been wondering about how some of the most common things in our day to day life work, he or she doesn’t have to pry up things at home to figure out how they work! All we got to do is take them to this place! They are already put up in ways that we can easily learn from. For example, there is an exhibit demonstrating how the car steering actually turns the wheels. We can steer and check the different parts that are involved to make the wheels turn.

In the ground floor, the textile hall has rich information on the history of textiles, right from the earliest forms and uses to the most modern forms and uses of textiles.  Some of the models of machinery that are used for producing fabrics are also at display. To engage students there are a few interactive quizzes which is both fun and informative.

The second hall, at the ground floor, which I would prefer to call ‘The Hall of Cosmos’, is all about Astronomy and its rich history. The info-graphics displayed are rich sources of information. There are brief notes on Galileo, Kepler, Edwin Hubble, Copernicus and other scientists and their contributions to the field.

The experience inside this hall is nothing short of a ride in the Cosmos!

There are other exhibits that deserve special mentions: the energy ball, the gravity well, lazy coins, reflection well and optical illusions.  Also, there is an inflatable Planetarium, where the night sky comes alive and Mr. Ahilan, Planetarium Engineer, makes sure the time spent inside it is exciting.

If you think, after all this learning, the park set up outside is just to relax, be mistaken, very mistaken! When looked at from a little far away, it looks just like any other park, full of things for kids to play around with, but when you are closer, you find that there is one major difference: there is a science concept behind everything in the park.

At Science park, you learn to play and play to learn!

If you plan to take kids along with you, make sure you have one person who is good at science and can help kids understand the concepts. You can always seek help of the people like Dr. Alagiri, Mr. Ahilan and others in the center, but they might not be around all the time to explain all the stuff. So I advice you take a science educator along with you to make the best use of the visit. More the questions we ask, the more we learn!

Its human nature to fall in love! A visit to this place and falling in love with science becomes inevitable! 

PS: The entry fee in nominal at Rs. 15 for kids and Rs. 25 for adults (inclusive of all the facilities inside, except for the planetarium which would cost an additional Rs. 2 for kids and Rs. 5 for adults. The price are subject to change!). For detailed information, contact Regional Science Center: 0422-2570325

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About Obuli Chandran

Science Enthusiast | Educator | Entrepreneur | Amateur Astronomer