National Science Day, celebrated on 28th of February every year is a day dedicated to mark the Nobel prize winning discovery 'The Raman effect' by Sir. C.V. Raman. Many educational institutions keenly participate in this celebration where information about the scientific work in all the fields in spread as both awareness and knowledge for even a layman. Every year there is a theme based on which presentations are made. I always wish this kind of celebration could have started in the early 90s in my younger school days. Although we had science exhibition and workshops conducted by the school children which was open to the public where we had an opportunity to showcase our talent in all fields.
In my current workplace and institute, National Institute of Mental Health and NeuroSciences (NIMHANS), Bengaluru, we celebrate Science Day every year and the entire institute participates in a day wide programme and exhibition where school children, students from various colleges, para-medical and medical educational institutions are invited to attend and also it is thrown open to the common public. The laboratory(Metabolic Lab) and the team from the Department of Neurochemistry where I work in, also participated and represented our scientific work in a simplified manner which could be understood by students and general public.
This time the theme of Science Day was , "Science for the People, and the People for Science." The preparations had started almost from the beginning of this year for this day. There were more than 250 volunteers from 30 different departments with 65 stalls spread across various disciplines like basic, behavioural and neuroscience who had participated in the day long event. Every team had ensured that they are able to convey important scientific work in a manner which could be creative and help children understand our work better. Many had made models, prepared charts, organised games, created puzzles and also conducted a street-play, which could kindle interest among the young minds and get their thinking caps on.
While I was preparing the stall with our team and also interacting with the public and going through the course of the day I felt like I was transported back to my school days when I had the same enthusiasm in preparing for the school science exhibition. It was a way to interact with new people, spread and share our knowledge, get feedback for our work and also make new friends. After I started working, I almost forgot what it was like to be a part of this kind of a creative activity. In the scientific community at the research level we are only bound to scientific posters and presentations but science day triggered the creative juices in our minds so that we could also represent our high level scientific work in a way that could help the young bright minds think of new ideas based on our work and divert their interest in it as they are the flag bearers who would carry forward scientific knowledge.
We represented our work related to newborn screening where children/affected patients are screened for inborn errors of metabolism using just a small spot of blood. Presenting the scientific work that we do along with a more than a decade long specialized diagnostic service that our laboratory provides, was a moment of pride for us as we felt that we were able to reach many who were unaware of the importance of newborn screening and also were new to the fact that such facilities of testing were available for everyone in the country as well.
I personally took out time to go to each and every exhibit and stalls kept by various departments to know about their work and also appreciate the amount of work put in by each and everyone in presenting their work in the best possible way. There were extremely good facts about neuroscience that were depicted by every team in the best possible way. Everyone had a message to share with the general public and especially a great learning for the students. There were also slogans like- ' Go green' and ' Say No to Plastic' message that were spread in the form of models which were like an interactive teaching tool for everyone.
Young minds and the Gen-Next are very talented and have access to technology and knowledge in a way I couldn't have imagined when I was in school. Technology has its own peril but science day explains how technology can be used in a productive way and teaches as to why a student who is interested in science should try to look beyond just books and learn to apply science in their day to day life. Overall, the experience of participating in the science day was an enriching one, not just for me and my team but also for those who took time to visit this and took home a positive message related to science, not just as a boring subject but as a practical approach to life.