Mobile lab Vigyanrath teaches science to TN students for free

By Mohammed Rayaan Published on Sep 15, 2018 02:10 PM IST

Vigyanrath in front of a government school in Coimbatore.

Chennai: These days, we can get nearly anything at our doorstep. But how will it be if you can bring into your school a van that houses a science lab? Enter Vigyanrath, a mobile lab started by Parikshan Charitable Trust. This unique concept is the brainchild of Dr Pasupathy, a food scientist who formed it back in 2009.

Speaking to News Today about this initiative that has reached tens of hundreds of schools across Tamilnadu, the programme director of Vigyanrath, V Arivarasan, says, "I was introduced to this trust by a friend. I joined about a month after it was started."

Arivarasan with excited school kids.

Arivarasan explains about the van. "Vigyanrath is a mobile lab which has the equipment to teach children various science concepts. Initially, we were focusing more on taking PowerPoint presentations and theoretical classes for students. But we later realised that we should teach children practical concepts. So, every year, we have increased the number of experiments to be taught to the students. As of now, we have nearly a thousand experiments in the mobile science lab," he said.

Arivarasan adds that the van is well-equipped with several experiments and keeps travelling to various schools throughout Tamilnadu. 'Many children get hands-on experience and we also make them participate during every session," he says.

"I often travel along with the van to numerous schools. Currently, our van is in Salem district and has covered about 35 schools there," he said.

Till now, the van has taught students of nearly 3,100 schools. "Several thousand children have learned simple concepts through this," says Arivarasan and narrates how he gets approached by schools.

"So, normally, we get calls from schools who request us to bring the mobile lab. If the van isn't available at the moment, I go to the schools myself taking along with me the science kits, and teach the students. But, if the van is near the school, then we schedule a time and drive to the location," he said.

Arivarasan speaks about funding for this mobile van. "To be honest, it has been very challenging. We have been doing all this free of cost and we don't charge the schools we teach. It costs about Rs 50,000 to maintain the van, to pay for fuel and cover other expenses every month."

To meet this, Arivarasan and his team occasionally organise workshops on their mobile lab for students who are in a financially sound position. "It becomes a win-win situation for both as they pay to learn which in turn helps us earn a little so we can teach other students who can't afford to witness a unique science lab," says Arivarasan.

Arivarasan stresses that every teacher should teach subjects in the most interesting way possible. "They should be taught like telling stories for the students. Concepts should be explained in a clear and lucid manner."

He adds: "Nothing gives me more satisfaction than looking at those children smile after I finish explaining a concept. This is what I feel every teacher strives for. When we teach children the most basics concepts of science in the easiest way, it will eventually lead them to come up with new ideas and dreams."