Science has fun – The New Indian Express

from Express News Service

BENGALURU: From mixing solutions to change color to feeding the flame of a Bunsen burner with different salts, science labs witness all the ways students experiment when the teacher is away. It has always excited both young and old. With a vision to complement the education system with fun activities and experiments, CuriouScity Science Discovery Center brings science to life with an inquiry-based approach where children and families will be able to explore concepts.

The campus is located near Dommasandra Circle, off Sarjapura Road and was recently opened to the public. Founded by couple Shonali and Arun Chinniah, CuriouScity Science Discovery Center is a new place to answer all science related questions. Shonali, who is a biologist and a teacher, realizes that education has become textbook-oriented and children lack practical knowledge.

“I have been teaching for several years. It wasn’t too long ago that one of the teachers at my children’s school was on leave and I was asked to fill in. I took Grade 11 and what hurt me was the fact that they were so textbook-oriented that one girl who had a photographic memory would give me answers from the textbook every time I asked a question,” says the biologist.

But while doing projects and preparing question papers themselves, the children learned a lot with Shonali. “Once I took them to the IISc campus to make them see what real scientists do. Students were then asked to come up with a project idea, collect data, analyze and complete the project. They learned a lot more than just book knowledge,” says Shonali, who has a PhD in ecology and marine biology.

Three years ago, Shonali and her husband Chiniya spent every last penny they had to build the campus. Chinniah says this is a step forward in making learning fun and enjoyable. “Our education system focuses more on clearing the exam rather than learning the subject. Children lose the joy of learning and we, as a society, are never able to find solutions and think outside the box. At CuriouScity, they can explore the topic more for joy,” he says

The science center will be open to schools for workshops on weekdays and to the public on weekends and selected public holidays. “We have different areas of activity. The idea is that kids don’t feel like this isn’t the only place they can experiment. Experiments are hand-designed by us using everyday materials. It consists of sections such as the illusion room with large exhibits, a science play section for children where they can make bubbles of different shapes – round, triangular and square – bird and butterfly parks, and the animal area where children will learn to empathize with wildlife and nature,” Shonali says, adding that they plan to use the collection over the weekend to host government school students for free. Families can explore the site on their own using signs to show what to do at each station and the science behind it. Each zone will have one staff member or volunteer. Shows will also be held at intervals in the theater or courtyard, along with a treasure hunt or two.

The couple also experimented a lot during summer camp. “I often pitted the children against the parents in fun activities. For example, they were asked to build a mechanical arm using straw, string and paper to pick up a paper ball. The parents struggled and were surprised to see that the children were doing much better than them,” says Shonali.

The two-acre lot also has an outdoor experience. “We spend a lot of time outdoors—recycling water with solar energy, exploring animals, and more. As a biologist, Shonali wants to introduce nature walks, bird watching and water conservation programs. Many outdoor programs will be withdrawn in the coming days,” says Chinia.

(Tickets are available on their website www.curiouscity.org and bookmyshow.com)

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