Friday, November 1, 2013

A humbling experience!

CHORD is an institution in Hyderabad that focuses on providing education to the under-privileged kids. ASHRAY-AKRUTI is an institution in Hyderabad that focuses on providing education to the hearing-impaired. 

Yesterday, we invited students from these schools to our office. The purpose was to conduct a Science Fair, wherein these children will showcase to our colleagues their science projects! 

The idea first germinated when we were brainstorming on how we can enhance the interaction between the school children and our engineers. Visiting their campuses is something that we often do, but this time we wanted to do something on a larger scale. 

And thus began Project Science Fair! We invited the school students to our campus itself - asked them to showcase their little science projects and guaranteed to them an attendance in the 100s. After about 2-3 weeks of planning, yesterday, they proudly walked into our campus holding their models in hand (remember the thermocol models we did in school? :) ). 

The students came up with various projects ranging from building a model of a volcano to electrical circuits; from explaining how electrical energy gets converted to magnetic energy to how rain water harvesting needs to be done; from devising a model mobile parking lot to demonstrating the concept of water pressure and air pressure; from showing(and proving) the concept of water absorption of plants to automatic lighting system of roads; from SMS based security system (a live demo this!) to showcasing a model of cell and radiation towers; from explaining illusions to talking about a periscope!

There was a separate section for Mathematics! The students asked us to solve quadratic equations, gave us BODMAS rule problems (which most of us flunked!), asked us queries on angles of triangles, parallelograms etc! 

Earlier in the day, we had an interactive session with them on what our company does. I was a little wary on whether they would be able to answer some questions, but they stumped all of us with their answers! Their inquisitiveness coupled with their innocence made this session so memorable that we were talking about it till late into the night! Their hold on various phones available in the market, various apps that we can download on the phone was very impressive! 

As our colleagues started trickling in, the confidence level of the students continued to increase. Every student asked questions to those who visited their stalls- those who answered correctly get a chocolate! This one stall had a Electronic Quiz board - designed by the students themselves! And believe me, it was very difficult to win beyond 3-4 chocolates (considering we had about 14 stalls!). 

For many of us, this was the first real interaction with hearing impaired students. Despite this hurdle, it was overwhelming to see them communicating with us (sometimes with the help of their teachers, sometimes without), questioning us, answering us and laughing with us. Working with them made us realise how fortunate we are, to have assets that we take for granted. 

For many of us, the experience of having to recollect many things we learnt at school to win chocolates(!) was something we can never forget. One colleague quipped - "Who said they are under-priviliged?!" - that was the level of satisfaction people went back with. 

For me, this will rank as one of my most humbling experiences ever. It was overwhelming to know the odds against which these kids have grown, and have reached this level. Life gets a whole new perspective after interacting with them. From now on, if anyone asks me - What will you remember about 2013? - my answer is simple - that I was associated with this Science Fair!