2,000 Delhi school students conduct ‘largest practical science lesson’

New Delhi, Dec 7 : Two thousand school students from Delhi and the National Capital Region (NCR) today assembled at the sprawling lawns of IIT Delhi to conduct ‘the largest practical science lesson’, seeking to script a new world record for the Guinness Book.

The existing world record is held by a group of 1,339 Irish school pupils.

The ‘historic’ event was organized by Vijnana Bharati (VIBHA), the country’s largest science movement, as part of the December 4-8 India International Science Festival (IISF) 2015, being jointly organized by the Ministries of Science and Technology and Earth Sciences.

The participating students, with excitement writ large on their faces, got a pep talk from Union Science and Technology and Earth Sciences Minister Dr. Harsh Vardhan and Union Human Resource Development Minister Smriti Irani ahead of the lesson.

Jayakumar, Secretary General, VIBHA, said the experiment went smoothly and in a glitch-free manner. “All students conducted the experiment successfully. We will be sending the result to the Guinness Book this evening. Hopefully, the final result would come in three-four days,” he added.

Prof. K. Girish Kumar, senior professor of chemistry in Cochin University of Science and Technology (CUSAT) in Kerala who coordinated the mega event, said three independent observers for the event- Dharmendra Kumar, Senior Police Commissioner, Delhi; Mr Arup Kumar Mishra, Director, Assam State Council for Science and Technology; and Prof. Akhil Ahamed, former Vice Chancellor, Mysore University-are evaluating this.

“The three observers enjoy a reputation for immaculate integrity. They will send their report to me and I will forward it to the Guinness Book,” he pointed out. “If our students succeed, the record holders will be Vijnana Bharati.”

Lokesh Mohanti, a 17-year-old student of National Public School who participated in the event, was ecstatic. “We did it. The experiment went well for all of us. The record is ours,” the exuberant student said while coming out of the huge makeshift laboratory after finishing the experiment.

The nearly 65-minute-long programme began at 10:37 a.m. with the schoolchildren of the 9th to 12th standard -50 each drawn from 40 schools, both government and private – listening in rapt attention to a lecture as a prelude to the experiment. The lecture was delivered by Ms Shalini Menon, a CSIR research fellow at CUSAT.

Neatly attired in their white lab coat and wearing gloves, the students conducted two science practicals, both related to catalysis, a process which makes chemical reactions faster without any additional input of energy. The process is extensively used in manufacture of some 90 per cent products that the world uses today.

A major feature of the exercise was ‘Elephant Tooth Experiment’ in which hydrogen peroxide underwent catalytic decomposition in the presence of iodide, resulting in the liberation of a large amount of oxygen and foaming up to resemble a giant toothpaste being squeezed. The other experiment was discoloration of methylene blue by hydrogen peroxide.

Huge screens were set up for the students as they conducted the experiment under the watchful eyes of the observers. To conduct the practical, five students each shared a table with equipments and chemicals. There were 40 stewards to observe students’ work, who would be witnesses to affirm that students did complete the experiment successfully.

The largest practical science lesson before this event was conducted at the Odyssey Arena in Belfast on February 24 this year. As per The Guinness Book of Records, 1,339 primary school students of 7th and 8th standard from Belfast participated in a mass chromatography practical. That effort was supported and conducted by The Royal Society of Chemistry, London.

“Two thousand bright young students are going to participate in the record-breaking science experiment and it has already set a lot of tongue wagging,” Smt Smriti Irani said, drawing a thunderous clapping from the participating students.

Expressing happiness over the IISF event, Smt. Irani said efforts need to be made to hold similar festivals in all the states. “Hopefully, 6-7 months down the line, we would be able to make even a bigger attempt at the world record by assembling 20,000 students at the Jawaharlal Nehru Stadium in Delhi,” she said, exuding confidence.

Dr Harsh Vardhan congratulated the students for the ‘mega event’. “I am excited like you. I am sure you will succeed and make the country proud,” he said.

“You have the blessings of our Prime Minister who has immense faith in you and the youth of the country. The PM believes that our youth can bring glory to India. They have huge potential to become professionals like engineers, scientists and doctors and create new innovations to mitigate the hardships of the people,” he noted in his address. (ANI)