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Igniting India's creativity through a Mobile Science Ecosystem

(Dr. APJ Abdul Kalam was speaking at Agastya Creativity Conclave 2011 in Bangalore.)
I am really delighted to participate in this gathering of scientists, educators, children and others
who are interested in science and have assembled here to create scientific temper among
children. The Mobile Science Laboratory mission will enable the inquisitive students to ask more
and more questions and to learn many new concepts by experimentation, which is not present in
the text books. My greetings to all the participants of this conclave. When I am in the midst of
scientists, educators, teachers and students, I would like to talk on the topic "science empowers
the nation".
What is knowledge equation?
Knowledge equation is equal to creativity plus righteousness in the heart plus courage. Learning
gives creativity, creativity provides knowledge, and knowledge makes you great. Where there is
righteousness in the heart, there is beauty in the character. Where there is beauty in the character,
there is harmony in the home. When there is harmony in the home, there is harmony in the nation
and when there is harmony in the nation, there is peace in the world. Three people are very
important for a childs all round growth. They are father, mother and primary school teacher.
Mobile science laboratory is very important and I realised its importance after I saw it in Bihar
provided by Agastya International Foundation during April to July 2010 by Viksit Bharat
Foundation, Bihar, under the leadership of M B Verma. During this campaign, the mobile lab
visited 14 high schools and 28 middle schools in flood affected rural areas of Bihar in the Kosi
Kamla-Balan belt. This included 6 Kasturba Gandhi Girls Middle Schools and project high
schools run by the state government. With the help of this mobile science laboratory, the
scientific knowledge could be made accessible to nearly 15,000 students in these schools. This
was highly appreciated by students, teachers, guardians and members of intelligentsia.
Notwithstanding announcement of summer holidays in many schools, once students in villages
were informed about the visit of the MSL, their response was very spontaneous and they came to
schools in large numbers to witness scientific experiments in the mobile laboratory. Some of the
students came to participate in this programme after crossing the river by boat, between two
embankments of Kosi in the district of Saharsa or by walking for about 8 to 10 kilometres and
see and learn science through the Mobile Science Laboratory.
It was quite evident that given proper ambience for academic work and opportunity for learning,
the students in rural schools were keen to rise up to the occasion. The Mobile Science Laboratory
and the Agastya International Foundation have become very popular among the school children
in rural Bihar. Some of the comments provided by the students, teachers, headmasters and

guardians are very important and definitely give confirmation about the effectiveness of mobile
laboratories in most of the rural and tribal areas of the country.
When I visit schools and colleges in India, I see how teachers teach and how students interact.
The teachers will have to make the class interactive as by this method both students would be
happy and also teachers will be happy by learning in an interactive way. Mobile Science
Laboratory is very important for the regions like North-East and some of the desert regions as
there are small villages which have lesser number of schools. Let us study important inventors
and their inventions. Wright brothers invented the plane; George Eastman invented film, Thomas
Edison and the light bulb, Alexandra Graham bell and the telephone.
Few discoverers and their discoveries, Albert Einstein and the energy equation E=MC2, Srinivas
Ramanujan discovered number theory, Chandrasekhar Subramaniyam and Chandrasekhar Limit
and Sir CV Raman found what we call the Raman Effect.
Now, what we see is that all the inventions and discoveries have emanated from creative minds
that have been constantly working and imaging the outcome of the mind. Imagination and
constant effort make all the forces of the universe work for that inspired mind, thereby leading to
inventions and discoveries. Higher the number of creative minds in an organization, be it the
school, college or any establishment, the best results of innovation in all the three sectors of the
economy will emerge. Thus for invention and discoveries, one has to work hard with constant
effort.
When the students are in primary or secondary classes, it is very-very important. I am going to
narrate some incidents that took place in the life of the scientists who discovered the energy
equation, the Raman Effect and gave a new meaning to the number theory and gene targeting.
Albert Einstein
In Albert Einsteins life, we find that his interest in science started early, beginning with his
encounter at the age of nine with magnetism, which he called "the first miracle". He was given a
compass by his father and Einstein was endlessly fascinated by the fact that invisible forces
could make objects move. This experience made a lasting impression on him. His interest in
compasses was reinforced when he found a caring mentor to hone his ideas. At the age of 12,
Einstein experienced second wonder in Euclidean Plain Geometry in a little book given by his
mentor Max Talmud, which he called "Holy Geometry Book". Einstein called this his "second
miracle". Here, Einstein made contact with the realm of pure thought. Without expensive
laboratories or equipment, he could explore universal truth, limited only by the power of human
mind.
Another Great Person, Sir C.V. Raman

Born in Tiruchirapalli on November 7, 1888, Raman was a bright student right from the start.
Apart from being fascinated by optical science, he was also deeply interested in acoustics. That
perhaps tempted him to discover that the mridangam and tabla produced more melodious sounds
than any other percussion instrument. He was fascinated by colourful things, be it a flower,
butterfly or gem.
Raman strongly felt that scientists should not be confined to laboratories in an effort to solve
scientific problems. They should search around themselves and find those answers in accordance
with nature. For the essence of science were independent thinking and hard work and not
equipment. How true! Though the oceans and the sky have always been blue in colour, it needed
a questioning mind with a scientific outlook to find the reason behind it.
Srinivasa Ramanujan
At the age of ten he demonstrated a natural ability at mathematics, and was given books on
advanced trigonometry by S. L. Loney. He mastered this book by the age of thirteen, and even
discovered theorems of his own. He demonstrated unusual mathematical skills at school, winning
many awards. By the age of seventeen, Ramanujan was conducting his own mathematical
research on Bernoulli numbers and the EulerMascheroni constant.
Ramanujan used to say "An equation means nothing to me unless it expresses a thought of God".
For him the understanding of numbers was a process of spiritual revelation and connection. In
his investigations into pure mathematics, he drew extraordinary conclusions that mystified his
colleagues, but were usually proven eventually to be right. He opened a universe of theories that
still today is reaping applications. The landscape of the infinite to Ramanujan was a reality of
both mathematics and spirit. His love for numbers led Ramanujan to the number theory. Despite
being affected by chronic health problems, he was breathing Mathematics throughout his short
life and his genius was recognized internationally.
All these examples are meant to say that nothing is impossible, dont believe anybody who
says this, be it your parents, teacher or anyone else.
Human flight is nothing but creativity of human mind and it undergoes several struggles to
achieve excellence. In 1895, a great well-known scientist Lord Kelvin, who was the President of
Royal Society of London said, "Anything heavier than air cannot fly, and cannot be flown."
Within a decade, Wright Brothers proved that man could fly, of course at heavy risk and cost.
On the successful completion of Moon Mission in 1969, Von Braun, a very famous rocket
designer, who built Saturn-V, to launch the capsule with astronauts and made moon walk a
reality, in 1975 said "If I am authorized, I will remove the word impossible".

Coming to conclusion
Friends, when we are discussing about the science teaching beyond the class room with mobile
science laboratories, I would like to share with you my personal experience with my school
teacher Shri Sivasubramania Iyer who taught me when I was studying in 8th class, at the age of
13. One day he was teaching about birds flight. He drew a diagram of a bird on the blackboard
depicting the wings, tail and the body structure with the head. He explained how the birds create
the lift and fly. He also explained to us how they change direction while flying. Nearly for 25
minutes he gave the lecture. At the end of the class, he wanted to know whether we understood
how the birds fly. I said I did not understand how the birds fly. When I said this, the teacher
asked the other students whether they understood or not. Many students said that they also did
not understand. He did not get upset by our response since he was a committed teacher.
Our teacher said that he would take all of us to the sea shore. That evening the whole class was at
the sea-shore of Rameswaram. We enjoyed the roaring sea waves knocking at the sandy hills in
the pleasant evening. Birds were flying with sweet chirping voice. He showed the sea birds in
formations of 10 to 20 numbers. We saw the marvellous formations of birds with a purpose and
we were all amazed. He showed us the birds and asked us to see that when the birds fly, what
they looked like. We saw the wings flapping. He asked us to look at the tail portion with the
combination of flapping wings and twisting tail. We noticed closely and found that the birds in
that condition flew in the direction they desired. That day when my teacher taught that how Birds
fly, not only I knew how birds fly but also gave me my aim of life, something with flight and
flight-sciences. I took physics and later aeronautical engineering. Then I became rocket engineer
and space technologist. My science teacher had put me in the flight path.
To achieve something, you should have four things in life, which are, aim in life, second one is
acquire the knowledge, third is hard work and the last one is perseverance. If you have
perseverance you will not be afraid of anything and for that a good teacher is very important,
then try-try until you succeeds. Thats why I say that when a teacher enters the classroom he
radiates knowledge.