“When I was in school, I didn’t have many people to motivate me about science or tell me about the interesting things I could take up and study in the future. Thankfully, there was one science teacher who helped me a lot during high school and inspired me to take up astronomy,” says 48-year-old Nagaraj Ananth who has been working as an electronic engineer with a government organization for the last 27 years.
With the aim of motivating school and college students to venture in the field of space research, he started providing them with something that he never had the advantage of obtaining as a student himself.
About six years ago, he started going to different schools, colleges and non-government organizations in and around Bangalore, giving a lecture titled – ‘Dr. Kalam, Rockets and Satellites’. And he continues to do so on every Saturday.
“I go to schools to give lectures about Dr. Kalam and motivate students to aspire to become like him. The lecture is designed to enhance general and scientific awareness among students about this subject. I talk about rockets, who invented the rocket, working of multi-stage rockets, etc. Most of these topics are a part of the Class 10 Karnataka State Secondary Education Examination Board syllabus. It is more of a motivational lecture than something focussing only on mathematics and science,” he says.
The lecture also provides students with many ideas for future career options like becoming an astronaut, astronomer, aeronautical engineer, rocket designer, etc.
So far, Nagaraj has been to 142 schools. A resident of Bengaluru, he goes to schools located in a 50 km radius around his place and all the lectures are conducted free of cost. He only accepts voluntary monetary contributions if offered by some schools to help him with transportation. “The first lecture I took was for students of Class 5. They were mostly interested in aliens,” he laughs. Currently, he gives lectures to students of Class 10 and above.
With his passion in this field of study, Ananth has written about 90 poems in Kannada and English focussing on space science and environment. He was fortunate to get one of his poems on Dr. Kalam signed by Dr. Kalam himself.
“I love telling stories to children. I love the sparkle in their eyes as they exhibit interest and curiosity when they learn something new. Thanks to my profession, I have been lucky enough to read hundreds of books on astronomy and space science. And that knowledge helps me out today in taking this hobby forward,” he concludes.