NCSC- A Child Scientist’s Destination- By V. Lakshmi Sahiti, IES Kuwait
I was all set for my 5 day journey to Baramati for the National Children’s Science Congress which was held between 27th to 31st Dec-2016. Though I was relieved, I still could not believe that this was the last and final phase of our project, and so I set off to Baramati from Kuwait with great expectations.
On the Way to Baramati
DAY OF ARRIVAL–
VIIT BARAMATI crossed my expectations by a great margin. It was full of lush green gardens, and had an organic farm or two of its own. But somewhere deep inside, I felt a small surge of fear and doubt in myself, as this was my first time doing the presentation alone.
It was also my first time staying away from my parents for such a long span of time. What if I wasn’t able to do it properly? What if I messed up? My brain was crowded with all these questions. Yet, half my tension left when I found out that this program was run not by the teachers, but by student volunteers!
A few of them helped me settle into the room, while one of them told me more about VIIT. They all were elder to me, and insisted that I called them “Didi”. Though we had a little language problem, they were able to communicate with me just fine.
With Kuwait Team
That’s when I met my other team members, Farhan, Vaishnav, and Abhinaya. We were then led by our guides, Ms.Mary Gomez and Ms.Sindhu Ashok to the administrative building to collect our schedules and ID cards. We all received our respective schedules, and I was surprised and shocked to see that we did not have even an hour free, and some of our programs even overlapped each other. I looked at my team mate’s faces and I could tell that even they were shocked. At least we had the first day free!
We spent the entire day exploring the campus and getting ourselves familiarised with some other participants. We had a late dinner and slept at around 10PM. Before going to sleep I warned my room mate Abhinaya that tomorrow was going to be a busy day for the two of us.
Today was the first day of the NCSC. We all assembled for breakfast at 7am. I was astonished to see so many varieties of food being served, and I was delighted and surprised to see that some of the dishes tasted exactly like what my mother makes at home. It was crowded with the many enthusiastic young scientists but full of jollity and good cheer. After breakfast we left for the rally.
We had to march through the campus holding our banners and flags high. Students from ASEAN countries and
INDIA also joined us, as we marched with the other GULF countries. Students from the various states of India displayed their colourful traditional clothes. The students of VIIT were excited to see us march through their school grounds and were continuously cheering for us.
There was an inauguration function held in the Ga Di Ma hall. Shri Harsha Vardhan ji, minister of Science and Technology attended the program as chief guest, it was then announced that the technical sessions round 1 would begin the next day.
The list was posted in the administrative block. We had our lunch and we ran to check the list. We were relieved to find that none of us would have our session that day. So I accompanied Abhinaya to the exhibition/activity centre, while the boys slept. I was surprised and excited to see so many stalls put up, and I thoroughly enjoyed visiting each of them.
By then, we were feeling quite hungry, and so we changed course and headed towards the food stalls to grab some food. There were at least 20 stalls in there, and we had a tough time deciding what to eat. And so we had a portion of everything. Yum! I had never tasted a better Vada Pav, sugarcane juice, or son papdi! By then Vaishnav and Farhan also joined us, and they took us to visit the organic farm with them.
It was quite dark by the time we returned, and accompanied by Sindhu mam, [who previously had gone to attend an escort teacher’s workshop] we said our goodnights and retired to our hostel rooms.
Today, we had to get up early if we wanted any breakfast, as it closed at 7:00 a.m. The only thing that I dreaded about this was that it did not include hot water for an early morning bath! We had to manage with the freezing cold water which was available in surplus at the hostel. By the time that we came out, the students who had their presentations scheduled for that day were already rushing to make it in time to the presentation hall. They all were carrying bundles of charts, models, USB’s, DVD’s [for their PowerPoint presentation,
I guess]. We made it just in time for breakfast, but the hall seemed emptier than usual, as most students had gone for the presentation.
Soon after breakfast, we ran down to check the list for the next day’s presentations. My presentation was immediately after breakfast the next day, which meant that the rest of us had their presentation during the evening session. So we spent some time checking the list for who all our judges would be, where we would be sitting, etc. We had an early lunch and parted ways to go back to our hostel. We spent around 2 hours checking and re-checking everything we would need for the presentation [charts, board pins, report copies, report soft copy, etc.]. We also did a final revision of our project. After all this, we spent about an hour in watching the cultural programs, and took a break in between, to take some valuable tips, ideas and advice from the students who had their presentation today. Despite having an early lunch, we had a late dinner at around 10pmand got back to the hostel room to have a good night’s sleep.
Today we had our share of the daily cold bath and rushed to have breakfast. The boys were already waiting there. They already had breakfast and with Sindhu ma’am’s permission, they went back to the hostel to prepare [yet again!]. Abhinaya took her own sweet time, while I, on the other hand, charts and all, rushed to the presentation room. When I first heard about the presentation, I feared that I might get nervous in front of the judges, but in real life, I’m pretty surprised that I didn’t.
One look at the judges told me that I had no need to fear them. They smiled reassuringly and told me to begin my presentation. I didn’t even realise that I finished my presentation until one of the judges called me and said that my presentation was excellent. Before I thanked him, another judge started firing me with questions. Luckily, I was able to answer most of them.
With Judge Rahul Patil
I came out just in time for lunch, and I was able to meet my team mates and wish them luck for their presentation. My guide inquired about how the session went, and then left for another escort teacher’s workshop. I went back to the hostel room to take rest, at least until Abhinaya,Vaishnav and Farhan’s presentations were over.
I was woken up by Sindhu mam, and that night, we had the overseas countries introductory meeting, where all the OVERSEAS students met and introduced themselves to each other.
Overseas Introductory Session
We met students from Malaysia, Indonesia, Cambodia, Laos, Thailand, Vietnam, Myanmar and Philippines. They all had different views and opinions about NCSC, and I had to be extremely lucky to be able to hear all these opinions. Soon after this, we left for dinner. We slept around 10pm, hoping for the best in the results, which would be announced the next day.
I was pretty disappointed when I woke up to find that I was not selected. But then, nobody was selected from any overseas country either! Yet, we decided to make the best of things. We met students from the other GCC countries, and all together, we went to visit the VIIT museum. We saw many old relics, paintings on ostrich egg shells, idols of various Hindu deities, but mostly Ganesha, made of gold, silver, or brass and bronze, precious vases and vessels.
Then, suddenly a brainwave seemed to strike Varma ji. He asked us, “why don’t you all take part in the cultural activities?” We all agreed to this idea. And so, immediately after lunch, we began practice.
Practice for Cultural Program
Everybody except for Aditya and Visvesh[UAE], who were our videographers, took part in the cultural program. It was a great success! We went to bed after dinner and though exhausted, we were happy and content that night.
Today was our trip to KVK [Krishi Vignan Kendra]. We set off at 7am after breakfast and took a bus to KVK. We saw many types of plants growing there, and they also had fish tanks. There was a small paper pinned to a board with information about the plant’s name, plant’s local name, plant’s scientific name, plant species, season of growth, amount of water needed, number of times to water in a day, distance between 2 rows, the distance between 2 columns, whether any particular fertiliser was used, if yes, it’s name, areas where it grows naturally, etc.
Getting Ready for Cultural Program
With Punjab State Cultural Team
We had lunch at KVK and returned at 3:30. Then me, Abhinaya, Naysa [UAE], and 2 guides from UAE went to do a little shopping. I purchased a few things for my family, and some for my friends. We arrived back at VIIT around 8:00pm. I gave my friends their gifts and went to bed.
DAY OF DEPARTURE-
I didn’t realise until I woke up that today was the day that I would be leaving Baramati. We woke up early and rushed to breakfast. As soon as it was done, we went back to our rooms to pack our bags. As my father had informed us that he would be dropping by to pick me up, I dragged all my luggage towards the main gate to make it easier to load the luggage onto the car. My father soon arrived, with some sweets as gifts to our guides. I got onto the car after saying goodbye, and watched as the prestigious institute grew smaller in the distance. As horrible as they were, I would really miss getting up early at 5:00am, the cold baths, sleep at 10:00pm, and the chilly nights. But yet, I was not sad that it was over. I was just happy that it ever happened.
I sincerely would like to thank my guides Ms. Mary Gomez and Ms. Sindhu Ramesh for being supportive throughout my stay in Baramati.It’s my privilege to thank the co-ordinators from SIF Kuwait who were supportive from the start to the finish of this project.I would also like to thank Department of Science and Technology (DST) for providing an opportunity to showcase our talent.