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Bhopal: Head in the stars, feet on the ground

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Bhopal: Science may be about the big bang theory, about quantum mechanics, about deep sea research, about nano technology and about molecular biology. But it is also about making the everyday lives of ordinary folks easier, about solving the problems which the small farmer, the disabled man or the typical housewife faces and about employing innovation to put waste to use.

And it is the latter, utilitarian dimension of science that seems to have inspired the young children who have displayed their exhibits in the 44th Jawaharlal Nehru National Science, Mathematics and Environment Exhibition (JNNSMEE) 2017, presently underway at the RCVP Noronha Academy of Administration here. It is a joint endeavour of the NCERT and the state school education department. The seven-day exhibition which began on November 11 will be on view till November 16 from 10.30 am to 4.30 pm.

As many as 142 school students from all the states and union territories of the country are here with their innovative ideas, manifested through their models – both static and working. And they have got an opportunity to showcase their talent in this expo after passing through the rigmarole of district-, state- and zone-level exhibitions.


Most of the exhibits are born out of the personal experiences of their makers, the events in their lives and the atmosphere they live in. A majority of the child scientists hail from rural areas and come from humble family backgrounds. What is common between them is out-of-the-box thinking.

However, for better or for worse, most of them don’t want to be researchers and inventors and would like to pursue careers in the good old fields of medicine and engineering. And the few who do want to work in laboratories say that they would be able to concretise their dreams only in a foreign land.

Free Press met some of the enthusiastic innovators and asked them about themselves, their projects and their plans for the future.

Archit Patel
School: Narayana Vidyalaya, Nagpur, Maharashtra
Project: Audio Optic
Inspiration: Problems faced by father’s elder brother, who is blind
My project is aimed at assisting the visually impaired with the help of a visual aid, embedded with computer vision (CV) and artificial intelligence. The device can help them identify their physical environment. They will get audio inputs on things around them, thus enabling them to walk without anyone’s aid. I prepared the project in a month under the guidance of my teacher and its approximate cost is Rs 12,000. My father is a landscape architect. American scientist Nikola Tesla is my role model. I want to do R&D in robotics in a Western country. There is no good research institution in India.

Devopriya Ganguly
Place: Bharat Mata Eng Medium Hr Sec School, Bilaspur, Chhattisgarh
Project: Draw bridge for trains
Inspiration: Grandmother falling down while detraining at Jammu.
The device I have designed can help the elderly and the orthopaedically disabled passengers as well as those having heavy luggage to entrain and detrain easily and safely. As soon as the train stops at a railway station, the draw bridge will be ejected from under the coaches by the pressure released from the application of brakes. It will be just like a ramp connecting the platform with the door of the train. Once the train starts moving, the initial jolt will automatically make the draw bridge retract. It will cost around Rs 28,000 to install it in one coach. I have also approached the Railways with my idea.

Alisha Kausar
School: Govt Girls’ HSS, Dungariya, Chhindwara, MP
Project: Laghu Krishi Yantra
Inspiration: Problems in sowing seeds in small farms, kitchen gardens.
Bigger fields can be ploughed using tractors or bullocks but not small fields and kitchen gardens? I have used a junked bicycle to make this machine. After removing one wheel of the bike, I have fitted it with small implements so that as you push it through the garden or the field, it digs a furrow, then, you can pull the brake of the handle to drop one seed into the furrow, next, the seed will be covered with soil and you can even spray water to provide the moisture needed for germination. Thus, in one go your sowing operations are complete. My father is a driver and I want to be a teacher.

Vimal Kishore
School: Govt High School, Beri, Aurangabad, Bihar.
Project: Home-made vacuum cleaner
Inspiration: Swachh Bharat Abhiyan
This vacuum cleaner costs just Rs 150 and can work as efficiently as a company-made one. Except for a DC motor and adhesive tape, it is made up entirely of things thrown away as waste. I prepared it under the guidance of my teacher Sushil Kumar Shashi. A ‘Sprite’ bottle, an empty spray bottle and a used sieve are its main components. You see, it even sucks in ants. My father is a farmer. I don’t plan to go into research. After my grandmother and then my grandfather died for want of proper treatment, I decided to become a doctor. I will try for admission to AIIMS.

Cicilia Vahneiting
School: St. Mary’s High School, Churachandpur, Manipur
Project: Solar Rice Husk Smokeless Chulha
Inspiration: Mounds of rice husk lying unused around the village.
My guide is K Megha Chandrasingh. Ours is a paddy-growing area. After extracting grain, rice husk is just dumped in the open. It makes the place look untidy. So I decided to build this stove, which uses rice husk as fuel, thus helping us preserve the fast-depleting and polluting fossil fuels. The chulha produces blue flames and is entirely smokeless. It can also be used for grilling, roasting and heating also. A small solar-powered fan at the bottom sucks in oxygen for better combustion. Ash is removed from an opening at the bottom.

R. Deepthi Kumari
School: Govt. Girls’ Senior Secondary School, Aberdeen Bazar, Port Blair.
Project: Energy from Sea Water
Inspiration: Sea that surrounds her town on all four sides.
The sources of energy like coal and oil are rapidly depleting and their overuse is causing various environmental problems like global warming. Sitting in my class, I saw the sea daily and wondered why it cannot be a source of energy. My model is simple. A copper utensil with a rubber gasket inside is placed in a perforated Aluminium utensil. The sea water acts as an electrolyte and copper and aluminium utensils work as anode and cathode respectively and electricity is produced by the process of electrolysis. This electricity is cheap, eco-friendly and sustainable.

Dhurv Verma
School: Ryan International Public School, Faridabad.
Project: Eco-Cruiser
Inspiration: Smog-filled National Capital Region
Nowadays, particulate matter in the air is increasing exponentially. This can cause life-threatening chronic diseases of heart, brain, lungs and blood etc. Bicycles are often cited as the most efficient modes of transportation in the world. I wanted to design a product that would help cyclists breathe clean air, even as they pedal through polluted areas. In this eco-cruiser, as the rider works the pedal, the dynamo attached to the front wheel produces 12 to 25V energy. A transformer amplifies the frequency of the current and supplies power to the electrostatic precipitator attached to the handle of the bicycle, which cleans the air. The air reached the rider through a tube and mask. My father is a metallurgical engineer and works in Saudi Arabia. I want to be an inventor but won’t tell you what I plan to invent. I want it to be kept a secret!

Millumaria Mathew
School: Jawahar Navodaya Vidyalaya, Kottayam, Kerala
Project: Automatic Forest Surveillance System.
Inspiration: Theft of a sandalwood tree just across the road from a forest office.
Sandalwood is very costly – about Rs 1.25 crore per tonne. And so, sandalwood trees are one of the prime targets of thieves. A computer chip is embedded in the bark of the tree. It continuously sends a signal to the control room. As soon as the tree tilts (as it would when someone would hack at its base to steal it), an alarm signal will be sent, indicating the number of the tree and its location to the control station. Also a red light will start blinking on a tower, informing the public of the theft attempt. My father is farmer and I want to be a doctor.

Mohammed Arshad
School: Govt High School, Maloya Colony, Chandigarh.
Project: Mechanical Water Puller
Inspiration: Hard work involved in drawing water from well
A village in Pratapgarh district of Uttar Pradesh is my native place. There I have seen how people, especially the women, have to work hard to draw water from wells. My mechanical water puller, which I have designed with the help of my friend Aman Kumar Mahto under the guidance of our teachers Ravi Jaiswal, Jasbir Singh Saini and Sarbjeet Singh, makes the task much easier. And what is more, it will be a workout too. You would not spend money on paying gym charges! The rope used to draw water is connected to another pulley, which is worked using bicycle pedals. We have also designed some agricultural equipment.