Physics, Ramjas College, DU
Recently, we had an opportunity to meet one of the college students, who have grown up studying the Small Science way. She is Vandana Venkateswaran, a student of Physics from Ramjas College, New Delhi. She is among the students who are presently on a visit to HBCSE for Physics programme of NIUS (National Initiative in Undergraduate Science).
How would a student introduced to science through SS have managed in the subsequent classes with a different curriculum? How would she have perceived the wave of IIT aspiration and everything that comes along with it? How does she find herself placed with regard to a research career in pure science? These were some of the questions that seemed to be relevant and interesting.
Vandana was also very excited to talk about it. Here is what she had to say..
Studying Small Science was a very memorable experience for me. My father introduced the books to my Primary School teacher when I was in Class 2. It was immediately taken up for our classes. All of us loved the books then. A chapter, it was Air or Water, began with a haiku and we really loved it. I also particularly remember an activity which asked us to draw the various phases of the moon. Our teacher used to tell us many things, surrounding the topics given in the books from her own readings and it was interesting. Although it would have been idea to follow the assessment prescribed in the book, we still had an exam. But our teacher made sure that it was very interesting, totally unlike the exams where you had to write long answers and so on. Much of it came from those extra things which she used to teach very spontaneously. I studied in this school up to half of Class IV. The remaining half of the SS book, I completed at home. My father guided me during those times and a deeper interest in science was instilled. I didn’t have any problems when being faced with a different curriculum from Class V in another school. As years would go on, I would still associate the new things I was learning with what I learnt from SS, It came vividly, at least up to Class 8. Then the board exam came and it required a preparation of its own kind.
I never got into the IIT preparation wagon, having a deep interest in science all the same, I wanted to pursue pure science. The habits engendered by SS linger on even now while studying as a 1st year students in Ramjas College. I avoid books along with which goes a lot of written work. I love to “read” about the concepts, thinking along the way. Books like Feynman Lectures and others with a loot of qualitative discussion are really interesting. This, however, is not to deny the role of quantitative thinking in Physics. Primary associations of a lot of things I encounter even now, go back to the time when I read Small Science.
In retrospect, however, I wish SS books had coloured illustrations. Illustrations really go a long way in explaining concepts.
I think Small Science, indeed is one of the best ways I know, to be introduced to Science. I consider it instrumental in evolving me to my present way of thinking. Many of my classmates who are presently pursuing Science and also the rest, loved it very much. I wish all the best to the young students studying it now and hope they grow up with the right spirit to study science.
Vandana Venkateswaran, Physics, Ramjas College, Delhi University
Interviewed by: Kumar Arunachal, 20.06.2012, HBCSE