“Science is all about understanding the workings of Mother Nature. Every second, nature has something new to show. We can learn many facts and figures about science from library or google. But the real learning of science comes from by doing things practically. Practically means you don’t need a big laboratory! What you need is good observation skills and a curious mind. The rocket fuel of science is curiosity,” says Prajwal, an MSc Physics student at Manasagangotri, Mysuru.
Prajwal has been fond of science since childhood. The innovative minded Prajwal has always been thinking out of the box to make his ideas count in the field of science. When he was pursuing PU, he, along with his friends started a group of science enthusiasts, named ‘Black Body Science Group’. The group was created as he was inspired by a book “Physics of the Impossible” by Michio Kaku. It was a group discussing science and the possible applications in the field of science. They were teaching science in an interesting way to the students of government schools and disabled.
Even though he was interested in doing engineering, he decided to join BSc as he was very much into physics. He joined NIE College for degree, which opened up doors of opportunities for him. It was Prajwal’s dream to make science as an approach towards life rather than mugging the syllabus up for the exams. During his degree days, his physics professor brought the poster of the Lead Foundation, which had invited the innovative ideas for the Leadership Challenge – 2014. The professor told the students to give their ideas and without a second thought, Prajwal started working on his ideas.
Prajwal, along with his friend Gagan, came up with an idea of a mobile planetarium, which he calls as ‘Cosmic Egg’. Cosmic Egg is an inflatable planetarium which was designed at a low cost, which can accommodate up to 20 members and explains the universe in an effective way. He was guided and supported by the Lead Programme by the Deshpande Foundation to make the planetarium. Prajwal fondly remembers the way his professor Kathyayani encouraged and supported him to bring up his ideas and execute them all the way.
When he applied for the Lead programme, he received a response within a month by Abhinandan of the Lead team, who explained him the procedures of applying to take part and funding. The planetarium was made, which included a tarpaulin, table fan, a computer and a projector. An open source planetarium software is being used in the planetarium. Earlier, the planetarium was a hexagonal shaped and was a bit bulky to carry. Prajwal worked on it and made the planetarium a portable one which is hazard-free to carry anywhere.
They got help from the NASA website to refine the working model of the planetarium. The Lead team supported them throughout to complete the planetarium within 4 days. Lead supported them to reach out to the government schools and the schools of disabled to make them understand the universe in a better way. So far the planetarium has been taken to more than 1500 schools and the way the universe was understood by the children with the help of Cosmic Egg was tremendous.
Prajwal hopes to make the planetarium more effective in the coming days. He has explained the difference between the Astronomy and Astrology to make children not to fall prey for the superstitions. The planetarium has won him the ‘Best Leader Award’ at the Yuva Summit – 2015. Infosys founder Narayana Murthy also visited his planetarium and praised the work of Prajwal.
Along with the projects, Prajwal runs a bilingual science website, which gives all the interesting information regarding science. The website Vigyan Santhe has been lauded by the readers for the depth of the information that flows in it.
- What made you to think of doing a planetarium?
It was my Physics professor Kathyayani, who brought the brochure of Lead Programme of the Deshpande Foundation and told us to try our ideas. I didn’t give a second thought and taken up the idea of the planetarium.
- How effective is the planetarium?
It is not possible for the students to understand the universe which is vast and beyond our imagination by just reading out the lessons in their text book. The planetarium which enables 20 members to sit at a time makes it possible for them to understand the universe in a better way.
- How was the support for your initiation?
It was indeed great! My parents, Muniswamy Rao, an army man and mother Sarvamangala, a teacher have always supported me for my works. My Physics professor Kathyaayni, Abhinandan from Lead team, Deshpande Foundation, NIE First grade College, Principal Suma were of a great encouragement for me to execute my ideas.
By Shreeharsha C M