EDUCATION TRIBUNE

Clouds bring an opportunity
Vishal Gulati

A
scribing
images to the ever-shifting clouds has long been a favourite pastime of children. However, in the 21st century, a new scientific perspective has been added to this childhood activity, courtesy the National Aeronautics and Space Administration (NASA).

We need thinkers, not robots
Anita Kashyap

In May, young heartbeats seem to rise to a crescendo, reaching the climax with the culmination of results. Elation/depression, victory/defeat, happiness/ dejection seem to walk hand in hand. The day after the results are declared, every newspaper makes a lead story out of the list of toppers, complete with their individual interviews and photographs. Somewhere inside is tucked a small, single-column news item: "Another student commits suicide".

Campus Note
GND varsity, Amritsar

Haryana Agricultural University, Hisar

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Clouds bring an opportunity
Vishal Gulati

NASA's CloudSat and Calipso satellites were launched by a Boeing Delta II rocket from a launch pad in Vandenberg Air Force Base, California on April 28, 2006.
NASA's CloudSat and Calipso satellites were launched by a Boeing Delta II rocket from a launch pad in Vandenberg Air Force Base, California on April 28, 2006. — Reuters photo

Ascribing images to the ever-shifting clouds has long been a favourite pastime of children. However, in the 21st century, a new scientific perspective has been added to this childhood activity, courtesy the National Aeronautics and Space Administration (NASA).

For high school students who have a penchant for understanding the climate, NASA has launched the CloudSat Education Network in schools. It’s is a mission to popularise cloud watching, increase knowledge about weather and collect basic atmospheric data through the eyes of young scientists.

Punjab is the only state in India from where 10 schools (from Mohali and Jalandhar) have been shortlisted to become part of the network. Twelve students have been selected from each school and will now work as atmosphere investigators as part of a global science team comprising NASA scientists.

For this, NASA has given educational kits to schools and the Punjab State Council for Science and Technology in Chandigarh, which has trained teachers to guide the students.

Ms Debra K. Krumm, Director of Education and Public Outreach, NASA CloudSat Mission, Colorado State University, says in an email: "There are two aims to the educational portion of CloudSat. One is scientific. We want the students to collect accurate scientifically valid data to help the CloudSat scientists check the accuracy of the radar on the satellite for the 22-month life of the mission.

"The radar is the first of its kind to be used for the purpose of studying the insides of clouds. Therefore, we need observers on the ground to provide us with information on the types of clouds, precipitation, temperature and per cent cloud cover as the satellite passes overhead.

"Because of the nature of CloudSat’s orbit, this will occur approximately twice a month. Our scientists will provide us with a way to calculate which days the satellite is over the Indian schools.

"The second aim is educational. The schoolchildren are encouraged to come up with scientific questions about their region and then use the data that they and other CloudSat schools collect to try to answer these questions. In addition, they will be able to use CloudSat data for their research projects. The students may also send questions to CloudSat scientists. If a scientist is in their area, he/she will visit the schools.

"We encourage CloudSat students to contact students in other countries and share their culture as well as their interest in environmental science and data collection."

Schools from 11 countries (Thailand, Australia, New Zealand, Cameroon, USA, Dominican Republic, Canada, Estonia, Germany, Croatia and India) will be part of the education network..

For collecting scientific data, NASA research satellites—CloudSat and CALIPSO (Cloud-Aerosol Lidar and Infrared Pathfinder Satellite Observations)—are on the job.

The data that the schoolchildren collect on clouds and other weather-related phenomena will be fed into a computer. The scientists will then be able to compare their data with the satellite radar data.

Dr Neelima Jerath, Joint Director (Environment), Punjab State Council for Science and Technology, says: "The programme will definitely develop a habit among young minds to look up at the sky with a new perspective and learn to pay attention to what is going on in the atmosphere."

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We need thinkers, not robots
Anita Kashyap

We’ll progress as a nation only if we give happy and intelligent students to our society.
We’ll progress as a nation only if we give happy and intelligent students to our society.

In May, young heartbeats seem to rise to a crescendo, reaching the climax with the culmination of results. Elation/depression, victory/defeat, happiness/ dejection seem to walk hand in hand. The day after the results are declared, every newspaper makes a lead story out of the list of toppers, complete with their individual interviews and photographs. Somewhere inside is tucked a small, single-column news item: "Another student commits suicide".

Is our educational system to blame for the students succumbing to pressure from every conceivable quarter: peers, parents, teachers and examinations? What builds up this pressure? To what extent are administrators and children responsible?

Being a teacher for 25 years, I can say that to a large extent the answers lie with teachers and administrators. The students who step out of the school, do we desire them to be subservient, unquestioning, loyal, predictable—a perfect industrial product children who are self-reliant, courageous, resourceful, competent and patient learners?

Education has become profitable, but not for children. As a business, it is far more competitive and destructive than the arms race.

Sincere teachers and administrators would agree that education is not a designer product or an industrial process, where the system is designed to the minutest details. Do you recall the advertisements that scream: "well-carpeted, air-conditioned classrooms, dinning halls serving all kinds of food baskets"—traps for the noveau rich corporate parents?

Experts imposed upon passive teachers and students design the school’s curriculum. Everything, including the worksheets, are factory-made, lesson plans made to please the customer, with no regard for the current needs of students. A worksheet that I had designed for students of a particular class was totally irrelevant for another section of the same class because their problems were different. No teacher has the time and energy to work according to the specific needs of the students.

It bleeds my heart to see parents getting trapped. Schools should be where children become not only knowledgeable but also curious, confident, courageous, independent, resourceful, empathetic and understanding.

Memory works best when it is not forced. It’s not a sponge that soaks whatever is poured upon it. Toddlers learn more and faster till the age of three than many of learn in a lifetime because, at that age, learning is an adventure, where failure or success does not matter.

When a toddler, while learning to walk, falls, does he say, "I have failed."

As we grow up, why do we forget such important lesson? Why bring up children in a manner that they only believe only in competition. Life is nothing but a series of failures and successes, separated by a razor’s edge. Weak foundation will naturally succumb to pressure. Nobody starts stupid. Failure solely lies in the way we impart education.

Today’s education is creating intellectual monsters with the hearts that are still emotionally weak: perpetual paranoids, afraid to experiment. Are we not trying to outperform Mother Nature?

Develop the intelligence of a child in a manner that it becomes a way of life. A child who appears dumb in class, if you observe him closely, he might appear to be responsible, enthusiastic and bright in sport or the hobby class. Intelligence should be assessed as a behaviour pattern in different situations.

A creative and an intelligent teacher will always devise ways to suit the intelligence levels of children and not just repeat those that were successful at one time. We’ll progress as a nation only if we give happy and intelligent students to our society, who would not look upon failure with shame.

Babies love this world. That is why they are so good at learning about it. For, it is love and trust that is at the heart of true learning. Help your child find his or her own inner strength.

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Campus Note

Seminar on Ambedkar

GND varsity, Amritsar: A seminar on "Life and Teachings of Dr Bhim Rao Ambedkar" was organised on the campus here by the Dr Bhim Rao Society of Guru Nanak Dev University to mark the 115th birth anniversary of the leader. The scholars at the seminar said steps should be taken to change the thinking of the majority towards the Dalits. There was a need to educate the downtrodden communities, rise above casteism, remove inequality and make the Dalits aware of their rights.

Dr. S. P. Singh, Vice-Chancellor, presided over the seminar, while Dr Paramjit Singh Judge, Professor of Sociology; Prof. J. S. Sabar, Professor of Bhagat Ravidas Chair; Dr H. S. Bedi, Dean Languages; Mr. D.D. Kalyani of Amritsar; Mr. Karnail Singh Sahota, President, Bhartiya Valmiki Sabha, Chandigarh; Ms Surinder Kumari, Executive Officer of Improvement Trust, Amritsar; and Mr. Jatinder Kumar spoke on the Life and Teachings of Dr Bhim Rao Ambedkar.

About the reservation policy, Dr S. P. Singh, Vice-Chancellor, said that in spite of the reservation for the Dalits, only a few of them were enjoying this concession and another privileged class had emerged within the reserved category.

The VC said instead of serving their community, they who had benefited from reservation had disassociated themselves from the Dalits. The scholars opined that high-profile officials belonging to the Dalit community had made no contribution to the welfare of the downtrodden. Only education could bring equality, he said.

20 students selected as Field Officers

Haryana Agricultural University, Hisar: In a maiden move, the Reliance industry has absorbed 20 graduates of Haryana Agricultural University (HAU) as Field Officers in its agriculture division. In the campus interview held recently, the company, on the basis of performance of these graduates in written test and interview, issued them appointment letters.

The selected candidates include five B.Sc (Agriculture) and 15 M.Sc (Agriculture) students of the university. Impressed with the talent and skills of the varsity students, the company has assured to reschedule another campus interview shortly for HAU graduates.

Elated over the success of these graduates in the interview, the Vice-Chancellor, Dr J. C. Katyal, has congratulated them. He said apart from focusing on the quality of education, special trainings for improvement of skills and personality development of the students would also be organised to make them more competent.

More private sector companies and industry would be approached for holding campus interviews, he added.

— Contributed by Pawan Kumar and Sunit Dhawan

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