Small children can make big contributions to big research projects by taking simple readings from the sky, said Dr. N. Rathnasree, Director Nehru Planetarium New Delhi. “If they simply count the number of stars in a given sky area from their homes and submit it to science organizations like Aryabhat and Nehru Planetarium, their level of light pollution can be measured. This small data sometimes makes significant contribution to a research scholar who needs such information from scattered sectors”.
Dr. Rizwan Ali, Scientist from Fronhofer, Germany also emphasized building up scientific temperament in the very young children. “Organizations like Aryabhat who really work at the root level can bring effective change in due course”, he added.
The State Level Aryabhat Astronomy Quiz 2012-13 is completing 16th successive year in the current academic session. In the preliminary level of this two-tier program, 3,330 students from 35 schools of Madhya Pradesh have taken part. The participation of girl-students was above 40 %. The result of the preliminary level was declared by Shri Arvind Paranjpye, Director, Nehru Planetarium, Mumbai on 22nd Sep 2012. As per the merit, 45 students were selected to take part in the secondary level. These students were provided with free learning kit and were given access to astronomical telescope in weekend camps, to groom them in practical astronomy.
The secondary level examination was conducted on Saturday the 22nd Dec 2013 at Turari Campus of ITM University, Gwalior. The participants exhibited their skills thought Sky Reading, Telescope Alignment, Paper Presentation and Viva Voce. Prof Yogesh Goswami had individual interaction with the students, and finally, fifteen students were selected for visits to various observatories in the next summers.
The prize distribution ceremony was held on the next day, that is Sunday the 23rd Dec 2013 at Vikram Sarabhai Block of ITM University. Dr N Rathnasree, Director, Nehru Planetarium, Delhi blessed the occasion as the Chief Guest and Dr Rizwan Ali, an Aerospace Scientist in Fraunhofer, Germany was the Guest of Honour. Dr Rama Shankar Singh, Chancellor of ITM University was also present in the ceremony.
Another attraction was a special message from senior scientist Prof Yash Pal in the form of a video cast. Prof. Yashpal also laid stress on encouraging the children to put questions and explore the world around in every possible manner. “Almighty has, probably, created this whole world just with the purpose that we should explore it.”
In this quiz, the highest participation was from Gwalior Glory High School, Gwalior. This school was given a Newtonian Telescope of 114 mm clear aperture. Master Utsav Akhauri topped the tally with 92 % marks. Fourteen other children from Bhopal, Mandsaur, Neemuch and Gwalior also qualified for the proposed trips to observatories.
The program was conducted by Aryabhat Foundation. The organisation did not seek any grant from Government, nor accepted donations from individuals or organisations for this quiz.