As a student in the 1970s in Indian Institute of Technology, Kanpur, Gupta became a socialist in belief but eschewed actionless discourse; he stated that instead he "placed more faith in small positive action than empty rhetoric." Gupta began his social service by teaching the children of the mess staff who had no opportunities for formal education.
Gandhian in outlook, Arvind Gupta participated in the Hoshangabad Science Teaching Programme (HSTP) in Madhya Pradesh in 1978. While he was there he developed his idea of creating simple toys and educational experiments using locally available materials as well as items usually thrown as trash. These simple toys, he found, fascinated children and Gupta went on to make these as the hallmark of his movement of popularising science. His first book, "Matchstick Models and other Science Experiments" was reprinted in 12 languages. Gupta's website holds instructions, including short video clips on YouTube, in a number of languages, for making hundreds of improvised toys, which he makes available freely without copyright restrictions. Gupta draws inspiration from a number of people, including Gautama Buddha, George Washington Carver and his mother.
He has won awards for his lifelong popularising of science and contributions in designing science teaching aids for young children. These include the inaugural National Award for Science Popularization amongst Children (1988), the Distinguished Alumnus Award from IIT Kanpur in 2001, the Indira Gandhi Award for Science Popularization conferred by the Indian National Science Academy (2008), the TWAS (Third World Academy of Sciences) Regional Prize for Public Understanding and Popularization of Science (2010). At present, he works at the Children's Science Centre located in the Inter-University Centre for Astronomy and Astrophysics (IUCAA) Pune, India.
- Brooks, Pastor (30 May 2011). "Toys from Trash: Theology for the Rest of Us". First Congregational Church, United Church of Christ, Vancouver, WA. Retrieved 22 May 2011.
- Murthy, Tanmaya (May 2011). "Amazing Mentor! Spotlight Interview with Arvind Gupta, Toy Maker". Amazing Kids magazine. Amazing Kids!. Retrieved 5 August 2011.
- Arvind Gupta and associates. "Free films". Arvind Gupta Toys. IUCAA. Retrieved 5 August 2011.
- Unattributed. "Distinguished Alumnus Award". Indian Institute of Technology, Kanpur (website). IIT Kanpur. Retrieved 5 August 2011.
- Unattributed (2001). ""Arvind Kumar Gupta (BT/EE/1975)"". Indian Institute of Technology, Kanpur (website). IIT Kanpur. Retrieved 5 August 2011.
- Arvind Gupta's website for popularising science through children's toys
- Citation for "Distinguished Alumnus Award" from Indian Institute of Technology Kanpur in 2001
- Make Digital magazine's feature "Toys from Trash" on Arvind Gupta and his work
- Receiving the TWAS award from Dr Manmohan Singh, the Prime Minister of India
- TED Talk given by Arvind Gupta at The INK Conference
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