Palampur (Himalayas), India
The Host Institution
The second institution that became a Science Corps host site is Aavishkaar, an organization that develops innovative techniques for teaching science, engineering and mathematics to remote communities across India.
Aavishkaar creates demonstration boxes, disseminates them all over India, and trains teachers from across the country in their use.
The boxes are developed using locally sourced and inexpensive materials. The objective is not just to demonstrate but to engage the audiences actively, enticing them to think critically and creatively about what they see.
Aavishkaar’s goal is to stimulate their audiences to truly understand concepts in science, mathematics and engineering, challenging the culture of memorization for memorization’s sake that is prevalent in India and other Asian nations.
Aavishkaar is located in the small village of Kandbari, Palampur, near Dharamshala (the residence of the Dalai Lama) in the Indian Himalayas. Needless to say, this is a wonderfully remote and beautiful mountain setting, great for the kind of deep thinking that gets done at Aavishkaar.
What we do there
We help Aavishkaar develop boxes for subjects in which our fellows have expertise. So far, this has included Chemistry and Biology, but your imagination is the limit to what we can do. If it can be done with relatively cheap and easily accessible materials, Aavishkaar will likely be interested.
It is important to note that since the language in Himachal Pradesh is chiefly Hindi, with only very limited English, Science Corps fellows’ direct interactions with audiences are limited, although they’re most certainly welcome to try if they are willing to learn a little Hindi! Instead, the role of the fellow is mostly to develop and document the experiments and demonstrations for the boxes, and to assist in training teachers to demonstrate with these boxes across India. That said, all the people at Aavishkaar itself do speak very good English.