National Council for Science and Technology Communication (NCSTC) is mandated to communicate science & technology to masses. The programmes of the Council aim at building capacity for informed decision making in the community. NCSTC encourages research in areas of S & T communication, training of communicators, development of books, manuals, posters, exhibitions, films, radio programmes, and television programmes on different facets of science & technology and recognizing outstanding efforts through awards and incentives all over the country.

The Network was formed about 25 years back with the objectives of initiating and implementing coordinated programmes of science outreach in association with government and non-government organisations. National Council of Science and Technology Communication, Department of Science and Technology, New Delhi catalysed the formation of this organisation.

It is a registered body guided by a Board of Governors with headquarters at Delhi. It has about eighty members spread in all states and union territories. Volunteers in districts lend it great strength and capability for implementing projects that reach the common man and woman.

It has shaped and reshaped the Children’s Science Congress every year for the past 21 years giving it more features to make it enriching for all participants. It has organised the Teachers’ Science Congress over the past fourteen years giving a platform for innovative science and maths teachers.

Network provides platform for interacting with eminent scientists and encourages young budding scientists also.
The Network led the nation in observing the Year of Scientific Awareness in 2004 and International Year of Physics (Appreciating Physics in Everyday Life) 2005. It undertook a three year campaign for Planet Earth 2007 and is drawing up ambitious plans for the future.

It has many publications in Hindi, English and regional languages that are always in demand.

The Network welcomes new members to improve the planning and implementation of its programmes. It seeks new areas in development communication, technology outreach and promotion of innovation over the next few years.

Even as rapid developments impact on society, the next phase promises to be even more exciting and rewarding.

1. CSC- The Beginning
The seeds of the programme of children’s science congress (CSC), in the way of an exercise to carry out small research activities at micro-level were planned in Madhya Pradesh by an NGO called Gwalior Science Center. It was later adopted by National Council for Science and Technology Communication (NCSTC), Department of Science & Technology (DST), Government of India for carrying out national level activities through NOSTC-Network (a network of Non-Government an Government organizations working in the field of science popularization) as national organizer. It was a time when many of the country’s crusaders of science communication were experienced with massive science communication exercise of Bharat Jana BigyanJatha and Bharat Jana GyanBigyanJatha. It was felt that the large scale activities for developing science awareness among the masses are to be continued as regular activity, so, this programme was launched nationwide in 1993, under nomenclature National Children’s Science Congress (NCSC), with an expectation that it would generate scientific temperament among the teachers and students, and spread among the various stakeholders of the society. The programme of NCSC has been fruitfully conducted for the last 21 years.

2. CSC: An overview
Children’s Science Congress is targeted to spread the concept of the method of science among the children their project activities adopting the principle of learning through doing’. The mandate of participation is that, the children will carry out a project on a particular topic in relation to theme and sub-theme decided for the year. The study is to be carried out in the neighbourhood of the children where they live. For this, the students form a group with their like-minded friends/classmates and the study is carried out under the supervision of a guide. It is noteworthy that, CSC programme is not only for the school going children but is also open fort the children outside the formal boundary of schools, in the age group of 10 to 17 years (where 10 to 14 years is considered as junior group and 14 + to 17 years as senior group). Further, it is not mandatory that a guide must be a school teacher; any persons with fair knowledge of dealing with children and method of science are considered eligible to guide the children, but should not be direct relative of any of the children.

The exercise of project activities, as thumb rule,encourages the children to explore, think, serve and wonder. It is capable to imbibe the following temperament/quality/skill of the children:
  • Making measurement,
  • Making comparison and contrasts,
  • Classification,
  • Estimation,
  • Prediction,
  • Interpretation,
  • Critical thinking,
  • Creative thinking,
  • Drawing conclusion and
  • Cooperative skill
Therefore it is ideally expected that any group of children will undertake a project work with a perspective of continuous effort of questioning and experimentation

Here, observation incorporates anything the children observe in their daily life in the locality, in relation to the theme defined for the year. The observation should be followed by relevant questioning such as “What? Where? When? Why? How? Whom?”. In the search for finding out the answer to the question (s) one is required to review different literature concerning the issues in the study. Review of such literature basically and ideally helps in framing the steps towards the study and experimentation. In the process, one may also discuss with experts of the relevant fields to get information and advice. Initiatives for such activities must be encouraged by the guide associated with the project. These steps will help to frame assumption / hypothesis.

Hypothesis is an assumption of some cause and its impact on the basic of observation, information collected from different literature and emerged from discussion with experts. After these phases, actual study through survey or experimentation or survey followed by experimentation would start. In the case of survey-based work, identification of respondent, their unit of observation, sample coverage, design of survey in relation to designing of interview schedule or questionnaire is supposed to be the most critical steps. Such decisions may vary with the issues of study. On the other hand, in case of experimentation, setting the objective of experimentation, defining different parameters, identification of ideal instruments, framing of procedures/ steps and control along with repetitive observation of the experiments are critical decisions, which will determine the path towards the result. Again in relation to issues of study, such experiment may be either laboratory experiments or field experiments.

It is expected that in course of time, the children’s project will bring in lots of new information about problems and prospects of their locality along with innovative ideas to address these issues. Moreover, in the course of project work, the children may develop different new approaches of study along with the development of different instruments for their experiments. Such tools/instruments may be developed with the material in their access/available to them nearby. Another expectation was that the outcome of different studies will be communicated among the local populace, which in turn, helps in generating scientific temperament among the general mass.

In a nutshell, the CSC projects are simple, innovative, concerned with local issues related with day to day life and are carried out with very nominal cost, where the focus is more on logical interpretation and analysis of issues, and finding out pragmatic solutions of generic nature to the possible extent, and not merely confined to the study topic and corresponding model making.

3. Objectives of CSC
The primary objective of the Children’s Science Congress is to make a forum available to children of the age-group of 10-17 years, both from formal school system as well as from out of school, to exhibit their creativity and innovativeness and more particularly their ability to solve a societal problem experienced locally using the method of science.

By implication, the CSC prompts children to think of some significant societal problems, ponder over its causes and subsequently try and solve the same using the scientific process. This involves close and keen observation, raising pertinent questions, building models, predicting solutions on the basis of a model, trying out various possible alternatives and arriving at an optimum solution using experimentation, field work, research and innovative ideas. The Children’s Science Congress encourages a sense of discovery. It emboldens the participants to question many aspects of our progress and development and express their findings in their vernacular.

“A social movement along the lines of the Children’s Science Congress should be visualized in order to promote discovery learning across the nation, and eventually throughout South Asia” – National Curriculum Framework 2005, Executive Summary, Page (ix).

4. Relevance of CSC in the light of contemporary educational initiatives
The basic approach of CSC is the principle of learning through doing on the issues of children’s immediate environment significantly caries the spirit and mandate of education for sustainable development (ESD) of UNESCO, National Curriculum Framework (NCF, 2005) and Right to Education (RTE, 2009).

The modalities and approaches of CSC cater to the five pillars of learning of education for Sustainable Development vividly, viz. Learning to know, learning to do, learning to live together and learning to be, learning to transform one self and society (Declaration of ESD in the 57th meeting of the United Nations General Assembly in December 2002, which proclaimed the UN Decade Education for sustainable Development, 2005-2014, refer – www.desd.org and www.unesco.org)

The mandate of CSC which encourages children to observe, explore, experiment and wonder through a project activity and its associated ways of participation and evaluation rightly takes care of the guiding principles of the NCF, 2005. Therefore, example of children’s Science Congress has been rightly cited in the NCF documents under executive summary section, page ix (http://www.teindia.nic.in/Files/NCF-2005.pdf).

Similarly CSC activities also helps in materializing the approach of learning as framed in the Right of Children of Free and Compulsory Education (RTE)Act, 2005 [particularly in relation to article 6.1, section C (ii, iii, iv and v)].

More over the CSC activities, since 1993, has catered to many of the approaches and priorities of Science education visualized in the National Programme of Sarva Shiksha Abhiyan (SSA)
(Ref:SSA framework, http//ssakarnataka.gov.in/pdfs/aboutus/ssa_framework%20.pdf) and RashtriyaMadhyamik ShikshaAbhijan (RMSA)
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