Science made fun- The New Indian Express

By Express News Service

BENGALURU: From mixing solutions for the change of colour to fuelling the bunsen burner flame with different salts, science laboratories have stood witness to all the ways in which students experiment when the teacher is away. It has always excited the young and the old. With a vision to complement the education system with fun activities and experiments, the CuriouScity Science Discovery Centre brings science to life with an inquiry-based approach where kids and families will be able to explore concepts.

The campus is located near Dommasandra Circle, off Sarjapura Road and was opened to the public recently. Founded by couple Shonali and Arun Chinniah, CuriouScity Science Discovery Centre is a new space to answer all sciencerelated questions. Shonali, who is a biologist and a teacher, realised that learning has become textbook oriented and children have no practical knowledge.

“I have been into teaching for a few years now. It wasn’t very long ago when one of the teachers at my children’s school had gone on a sabbatical and I was asked to fill the space. I took over Class 11 and what pained me was the fact that they were so textbook oriented that one girl who had a photographic memory gave me textbook answers every time I asked a question,” says the biologist.

But with doing projects and preparing question papers themselves, kids learnt a lot with Shonali. “I once took them to the IISc campus to get them to see what actual scientists do. The students were then asked to come up with a project idea, collect data, analyse and complete the project. They learnt a lot more than just the bookish knowledge,” says Shonali, who has a PhD inecology and marine biology.

Three years ago, Shonali and her husband Chinniah spent every last penny they had to build the campus. Chinniah says that it is a step ahead in making learning fun and enjoyable. “Our education system focusses more on clearing an exam and not on learning the subject. Children lose the joy of learning and we, as a society, are never capable of finding solutions and thinking out of the box. At CuriouScity, they can explore the subject more for the joy of it,” he says

The Science Centre will be open for schools for workshops on weekdays and the public on the weekends and select public holidays. “We have different zones of activities. The idea is not to let kids feel that this is not the only place where they can experiment. The experiments are hand designed by us using everyday materials. It comprises sections like the illusion room with large exhibits, a science play section for the kids where they can make bubbles of different shapes – round, triangular and square – birds and butterfly parks, and the animal zone where children will learn to empathise with wildlife and nature,” Shonali says adding that they plan to utilise the weekend collection to host students from government schools at no cost. Families can explore the place on their own with the help of signs to tell what is to be done at each station and the science be- hind it. Each area will have one staff member or a volunteer. Shows will also be hosted at intervals in the theatre or courtyard area, along wi th a treasure hunt or two.

The couple also experimented a lot during the summer camp. “I would often put the kids against the parents in fun activities. For instance, they were asked to build a mechanical hand using a straw, string, and paper to pick a paper ball. The parents struggled and were surprised to see that the kids did a lot better than them,” says Shonali.

The two-acre-land also has an outdoor experience. “We spend a large amount outdoors – recycling water with solar energy, exploring animals and more. As a biologist, Shonali wants to introduce nature walks, bird watching, and water conservation programmes. A lot of outdoor programmes will be pulled in the coming days , ” says Chinniah.

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

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