A science fair that changed life

A science fair that changed life

Photo for representational purpose only

Hira Singh Bhupal

In 1993-94, I was pursuing middle school education in my village, where science was taught by instructors with a non-scientific background. Our academic condition was so poor that even the names of extraordinary contributors like Newton and Einstein became victims of ‘evil words’ from our mouth. We contemplated their non-existence, so we wouldn't have to study their dreary theories. Distressfully, science couldn’t inspire us, and we remained blissfully ignorant of its significance in our everyday life.

The days were passing, as such, with the same despondency. However, as we transitioned to class VIII, Mr Mohinder Pal was appointed as our new science teacher. In his very first lecture, he elucidated the importance of science in our life by citing phenomenal examples and perspectives. After some outstanding lectures and exceptional clarity, a turning point came just before the summer vacation. The teacher had received an invitation letter to a district-level science fair. Along with one of my classmates, I was informed about the upcoming event. After lunch, he pulled out an apparatus from a dusty almirah and told us to be present in the school on Sunday.

The following Sunday, he demonstrated the experiment, leaving no detail to imagination. The next morning, he gave us a ride on his scooter and took us to the much-fantasised science fair at Mansa. As we belonged to a sleepy village school, we felt overwhelmed watching guardians of other students, with neckties, patronising them. This red-carpet treatment to the sharp-looking pupils astonished us.

The event commenced and we started assembling our apparatus with a sense of fear and with low confidence. As the assessment committee evaluated our experiment, we explained to them the whole concept and answered their every query impeccably. They appreciated our efforts and after the first day’s conclusion, Masterji took us to the nearby canteen and treated us to samosas. We were thrilled and enjoyed the scrumptious delicacy!

The next day, the results were announced and we grabbed the second position, beating English-medium students. It was like a miracle. More than us, our teacher was excited, and took pride in us — students from a rural background, from a small school at Bhupal village, had performed outstandingly.

Today, I owe my success to that science fair which brought me where I am. I inculcated interest in science and was awarded a state merit position in the class XII (medical) exam. But I had a long way to go.

That I took admission in BSc Agriculture at the PAU, Ludhiana, and won a gold medal are the joyful parts of my success story. I am now working as Assistant Professor at the PAU.

From my experience, I have realised that society needs such encouraging teachers, who, without showing prejudice towards rural students and with minimum infrastructure, are willing to bring in the change. That makes all the difference. It did to me.

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