The team lead by M Pajwal, a first grade college student of the National Institute of Engineering, decided to dispel beliefs about common myths and create awareness on galaxies and the universe.
The project, named Cosmic Egg, began with a simple idea to promote scientific knowledge and erase popular myths like astrology. Initially, the planetarium was designed to be hexagonal in shape. This turned out to be a difficult task and it was then lead mentor Abhinandan who suggested them to develop a low-cost model that would reach at least 20 schools. With sustained efforts, a mobile planetarium was developed. The project was inspired by the NASA Educational website, says Pajwal.
They have also built a pipe network for the planetarium. Realising that the planetarium was not easily movable, they accepted a challenge to make a portable planetarium.
“The procedure to build a planetarium was simple and the project did not take much time for us. We completed the planetarium in less than four days and we began to promote our innovative planetarium to governmental organisations and schools for children with disabilities,” adds Gagan, the other team member.
The chief objectives of the project were to reveal the wonders of outer space to governmental organisations and schools for children with disabilities through mobile planetarium, to encourage scientific thinking among them, to teach students about planetary systems and spread awareness on eclipses and laws of planetary motion from a scientific point of view. It also aims to prevent superstitious beliefs like astrology through planetarium shows.
Although it was hard to set up a projector for the planetary show and get permission to arrange the same, the leaders have been able to share their knowledge with 305 participants so far.
“We believe that innovation and creativity develops curiosity. Experimenting with new things always excites and encourages us to take up some more similar projects. Having completed this project for schools, we came across some problems on quality of education in village schools. Some teachers are not familiar with the basic concepts in science. During our sessions, most students asked us questions related to astrology, in particular, and about Saturn’s effect on our life. We have learned many things from this project. We would also like to develop a planetarium making it more interactive to students,” the team added.