The Royal Society of Chemistry (India) and Salters’ Institute (UK) conducted a three-day residential Chemistry Camp for 9 th standard students at the Indian Institute of Science Education and Research Bhopal from 3 rd -5 th July 2018. The aim of the Salters’ Chemistry Camps is to promote appreciation for Chemistry by providing school students from State Government schools, an opportunity to explore the practical aspects of the subject and inspire them to pursue Chemistry at University and further.
A total of 65 students (31 girls and 34 boys) studying in the IX th standard in State Government schools from Bhopal, Dewas, Hoshangabad, Raisen, Rajgarh, Sehore, Shahpur, Ujjain,Bhauri, Bakaniyaof the state of Madhya Pradesh attended the three-day residential camp. They were accompanied by 9 female and 5 male teachers from the participating schools. In this camp, hands-on experience in practical Chemistry was provided to the student participants in the state of the art Chemistry laboratory. The inaugural address to the participants was given by the Deputy Director of the Institute, Professor Saptarshi Mukherjee. He advised the participants to make the most out of the camp as they were the handful chosen from all over the state. He motivated the students to make a career in Chemistry and wanted to see many of them join IISER Bhopal as BS-MS students after their 12 th standard. Dr. Aasheesh Srivastava, Head, Department of Chemistry welcomed the participants on behalf of the Department.
The inaugural session was followed by a session on safe practices in laboratory. A safety briefing was followed by hands-on training in practical Chemistry. The participants were provided with safety goggles, gloves, lab coats during the lab sessions. The participating students enthusiastically performed crystallization of sugar, table salt, Epsom salt, alum and potassium nitrate. Thereafter the students used sodium hydroxide and hydrochloric acid along with universal indicator to create the seven colors of the rainbow. The students found the forensic challenge exciting and were fascinated by the clock reaction based on chemical kinetics. They also created slime by mixing chemicals and learnt the concept of a hydrogel. Dr. Sanjay Parihar, Mr. Rajbeer Singh, Ms. TulsiUpadhay, Ms. Palak Mehra, Mr. Anand Kumar Awasthi, Mr. Shashi Shekhar were the mentor teachers for the program who not only conducted the practical sessions (along with the lab assistants)but also stayed in the hostels to provide the participants pastoral care.
Apart from the practical sessions, there was a session on simple computer programming lessons in Hindi by Dr. Kushal Shah where the concept of algorithm and C programming was introduced to the students. There was also a presentation followed by a hands-on session on “Foldscopes” (optical microscopes assembled using principles of origami) having submicron resolution (invented by Manu Prakash, Stanford University) by Dr. Madhumita Mukherjee wherein the participants observed onion cells, blood cells, butterfly legs, honey bee legs, fern rhizome, frog blood cells and captured the images of the same using a magnetic coupler with their mobile phones. There was a session on liquid nitrogen. Here experiments using balloons in liquid nitrogen, freezing and smashing of flowers, leaves etc were demonstrated by Dr. Sarika Singh. Some BS-MS students conducted an interactive session to introduce some scientific concepts by means of toys made from commodities which are used everyday. Toys like a simple hovercraft, a mini submarine in a bottle of water, magic ink and more were prepared and used as models to explain the elegant science behind their working. Dr. Aasheesh Srivastava delivered an interesting lecture on “Light emission in natural world” to the participants. All the lectures were delivered in local language. The participants also visited the Central Instrumentation Facility, Central Library and Computer Center. There was also a sports session and movie screening for the participants. Dr. Snigdha Thakur, Dean of Academic Affairs handed over the participation certificates to the participants and urged them to come back to IISER Bhopal for other Outreach Programs also.
Dr. Madhumita Mukherjee was the local co-ordinator from IISER Bhopal and Ms. Bhakti Dhamdhere was the co-ordinator from the Royal Society of Chemistry, India for the program.
The Salters’ Chemistry Camps India are a part of the “Inspirational Chemistry Programme” project in India and has been supported by Dr. Yusuf Hamied (Non-executive Chairman- Cipla Limited) a leading Indian philanthropist and pioneer in the pharmaceutical industry.