I was at the Harriyapur, a small village in Kaushambi district of Uttar Pradesh to conduct mobilization for Science workshop which was to be held at our science exploratory situated one and half kilometres away . There, I spoke with some of the community members about our program. Soon, group of children gathered around. That is when I met Sumit, who was also a part of the group.
Some of the older members of the group pointed at Sumit and told me to take him along with me . Hearing this the other children started laughing. Although it was meant as a joke, this comment piqued my curiosity because nobody had made any such comments about any other child from the group.
According to the villagers, Sumit is mischievous. He heads the gang of similarly mischievous children. Even though he goes to school, he studies only when he wants to and usually spends his time playing games, loitering around, making mischief or picking up fights. The next day at Harriyapur, I invited him to join the other children in the science exploratory. Sumit heeded my request and was present the next day along with other children. I asked the children to sit so that I could talk with them. All the children followed my instruction except for Sumit who was examining his surroundings very carefully.
When I asked him to sit again he replied by saying that he will do so very soon and continued to stare at one of the models. The model was that of a magnetic train which had a pencil floating mid-air. I pretended not to take notice.
I asked Sumit to sit once again and told him that the model will still be there after we finish talking. On hearing this, Sumit finally sat down. However, while the other children were listening to what I had to say, Sumit still seemed to be thinking about the train. After speaking with the children, I decided to show them some films about scientific toys and experiments by Arvind Gupta. This was the first time that the children were seeing a film on the projector. The children watched 7 to 8 films attentively. The films were about making paper caps, paper houses, a small book with 14 pages, magical match sticks and dancing man. All the children enjoyed watching the films but Sumit seemed to enjoy them the most.
When the children were tasked with making the same scientific toys, Sumit was the first one to finish making the paper cap and was soon helping other children with it. Eventually, Sumit saw a paper crocodile that was sitting right next to the model that had caught Sumit's fancy initially. Sumit picked the paper crocodile and looked at it closely.
At the end of the day, Sumit had spent 3 hours with the rest of the children and had not picked up fights, loitered around or indulged in any mischief. When it was time to go home Sumit came to me and said that he can make the magnetic train if he gets the magnets. I gave him the magnets and with little guidance he made the model which he was so fascinated about. His joy new no bounds
The next day, the students brought some of the scientific toys that they had created at home. Each child had made one or two other models, Sumit, however, had made them all.
"Look! Magical matchstick", he said as he entered the classroom, "A crocodile!"
He even started reading Arvind Gupta's book on scientific toys and experiments.
Perhaps Sumit truly enjoyed participating in the activities of the science exploratory. Perhaps this is what he wants to do. His desire to learn and achieve something different is hard to miss.
Sumit is now participating in the summer camp at the science exploratory.
This experience is reminiscent of my childhood. The only difference is that Sumit found his purpose in life at the age of 14 and I found mine at the age of 22, which I am pursuing now.
By Surendra Kumar, Uttar Pradesh, Science program Master Trainer.