Early in March, Pune-based scientists Karishma Kaushik and Snehal Kadam launched “Talk To A Scientist” - a unique science outreach program that conducts interactive webinars for children between the ages of 6 to 16.
Children are curious beings, eager to learn and explore. They ask simple questions, like “Why should I eat this food?” or deeper ones like “Why is the moon round?” or “Why is the grass green?” While some parents try to answer these questions with whatever they know, some look for answers on Google, and others make things up on the spot.
Two scientists, Karishma Kaushik and Snehal Kadam, who work at the University of Pune, are helping these curious children get simple answers to complex scientific theories.
Early in March, Karishma and Snehal launched ‘Talk To A Scientist’, a unique outreach platform that uses an interactive webinar format to share science with children between the ages of 6 and 16.
“When the pandemic struck, many children, including my son, were talking about the virus, how it spreads, and how someone can contract it. Talking about science became cool, and that made me launch an outreach programme where young minds could familiarise themselves with various topics, and ask questions related to them directly to a scientist,” Karishma says.
About the scientist program
The initiative began at the end of March, and the duo would host one-hour sessions which included presentations, explanation of theories and lively discussions where children could ask questions. Soon, word spread, and the two invited other Indian scientists from various fields to host sessions for the children.
“We work with the scientists to prepare the session’s content and presentation. Last month, we had a guest speaker talk about how to identify a spider, and how they weave webs. Last week, we had a session regarding cells, what cell junctions are, and how cells in a tissue are organised,” Karishma says, adding that the current theme of the sessions is related to biology and focussed on young health.
Raghav Ramesh, a resident of Chennai, is one such curious mind who participated in the Talk to a Scientist initiative. His mother, Mathangi Ramesh, says that she had enrolled him in the programme when the lockdown began so he has an educational activity to keep him occupied while he is at home. “He loves the programmes, even though some topics are beyond his understanding,” says the 10-year-old’s mother. “His favourite session was the one where all children were asked to do an experiment to extract DNA from bananas. Now, every Monday evening, he looks forward to Karishma’s session.
The free-of-cost sessions are held virtually on Zoom every monday from 5 pm to 6 pm. Students who wish to attend have to register beforehand through a link provided by Karishma.
Here’s how you can join the session
Details about upcoming sessions are shared every Thursday on Talk To A Scientist’s social media pages, or through weekly newsletters.
Step 1: Follow them on Facebook or Twitter, or send your child’s name and age to firstname.lastname@example.org to receive the weekly newsletter.
Step 2: On Thursdays, a poster with the session’s details, along with the registration link, will be shared.
Step 3: Register on that link by entering the participant’s name and email address.
Only participants who have registered will be allowed to enter the zoom call.