National Science Centre, Delhi
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|Location||Bhairon Road, India|
|Visitors||521260 [As on 31 March 2010]|
|Director||Rama Sarma Dhulipati|
The National Science Centre established in 1992, is a science museum in Delhi, India. It is part of the National Council of Science Museums (NCSM), an autonomous body under India's Ministry of Culture. It stands close to Gate no 1, of Pragati Maidan overlooking the Purana Qila.
The National Science Centre is the northern zonal headquarters of the National Council of Science Museums. The first Science Museum under this Council, the Birla Industrial & Technological Museum came up on 2 May 1959 at Calcutta. Thereafter another Museum, the Visvesvaraya Industrial and Technological Museum was opened in Bangalore in 1962. These Museums were inspired by the vision of Dr.Bidhan Chandra Roy, the first Chief Minister of West Bengal and was encouraged by pandit Jawaharlal Nehru, the first Prime Minister of India, who always had a soft corner for scientific temper. Dr. Amalendu Bose, a young chemistry graduate at that time, was recruited by Dr.B.C.Roy to commission the first Museum at Calcutta. Thereafter several smaller centres came up, but for over two decades, there was a lull in the science museum movement in India.
The coming to power of Rajiv Gandhi saw a fresh impetus for science popularisation. The Nehru Science Centre in Mumbai came up as the third major Science Centre. During this period, the movement also witnessed a shift from traditional science museums like the London Science Museum, the Deutsches Museum etc. to what were called 'Science Centres' in the line of the Exploratorium in the USA. With Rajiv Gandhi inaugurating the Mumbai Centre, the Science Centre movement embarked on a period of explosive growth, with science centres opening in most state capitals of India. With Kolkata, Bangalore and Mumbai Centres functional, a need for a big Centre in the Nation's capital in Delhi in the north was felt, and work started in earnest in 1984. Starting with a small shed near a municipal swimming pool in R K Puram and thereafter within a shrub forest in Timarpur, the National Science Centre was conceived, designed, built and made operational in 1992. It was inaugurated on 9 January 1992 by the then Prime Minister of India, P.V.Narasimha Rao and is situated between the Gate Nos. 1 and 2 of the Pragati Maidan exhibition grounds, on the Bhairon Road, across Purana Qila, Delhi. It is open all seven days a week from 10:00 AM to 5:30 PM except on the Indian Festival days of Holi and Diwali. The building was designed by noted Indian architect Achyut Kanvinde.
The Innovative approaches adopted in the Education Outreach Activities of this Centre since 2009 has been widely appreciated and has resulted in generating an annual visitor figure in excess of half a million for the first time in the year 2008-2009. Also this Centre is unique in organising such socially relevant activities as Regular visits for specially abled children, Sensorimotor development skill workshops for autistic children and those with cerebral palsy, Breast cancer awareness and early detection for destitute women, Life skill development for underprivileged children Science awareness for minority groups like madrassa students, Science versus superstition for slum dwellers in JJ clusters, Sign language science demonstration lectures for hearing impaired highly subsidised entry for children from Municipal schools, Stress management for adolescents, Astronomy awareness with special programmes for dispelling myths related to eclipses for rural audience, Basic first aid training for housewives, Special programmes for war widows in collaboration with Indian Armed Forces, Vocational training for destitute women and widows etc.
The entry plaza to the Centre welcomes its visitors with a huge exhibit spanning four floors, one of the largest exhibits in the world, "the Energy balls", in which nylon balls six inches in diameter, are lifted to a height of fifty feet, letting them gain potential energy, and then dropped, letting them travel all kinds of paths, performing work to expend their potential energy into other forms of energy. Besides, there are small but attention grabbing exhibits like the magic tap which apparently gushes forth water suspended in space without any inlet, a harp, where merely moving ones hands creates music, and a suitcase which curiously resists being twisted about its handle.
A special feature of the National Science Centre is its student visitors. While the world over, the ratio of student to general visitor ratio is about 0.3, almost 65% (a ratio of 1.8)of the visitors to the National Science Centre are students. As these visitors assemble at the reception amphitheatre, they are given a brief and dramatic introduction to the world of science by the educators of the Centre. And as the visitors proceed further, the Centre opens up its treasures contained in six permanent halls full of interesting and hands-on participatory exhibits.
An escalator takes them up to the first gallery on the third floor - Our Science and Technology Heritage. Indian Heritage in Science & Technology has a long history of 4500 years. The exhibition on "Our Science and Technology Heritage" depicts how, in course of time, side by side with art and literature, there grew up on Indian soil, a very rich scientific and technological culture. In ancient Sanskrit texts, we can find shades of twentieth century thinking. Scientific ideas grew in Indian minds more than two thousand five hundred years ago. Concepts of matter, atomism and cosmic evolution were recorded for posterity. It was also in India that the concept of zero gained meaning. The present day numerals, Powers of ten, the golden rule of three, square root and cube root were worked out 1500 years ago and took 1000 years to reach Europe. This Gallery is the latest in the Centre and was inaugurated by the Secretary to the Ministry of Culture, Government of India, Shri Jawhar Sircar on 21 October 2009.
Next is a gallery on Human Biology - the miracle of Human Life. The gallery aims to portray the human body in all its aspects: anatomical, physiological, biochemical, structural, functional and systemic. The concept for the gallery arose out of the feedback that the Centre had been receiving from its visitors, to set up more exhibits on the Human Body, its structure and functioning. The Human Body is something, which we all possess and are familiar with, but at the same time, is an eternal source of mystery. From this gallery visitor comes down to an exciting gallery on prehistoric life, featuring several life sized and scaled animated robotic models of dinosaurs and other long extinct creatures in their natural ambience. The supporting panel exhibition provides ample information about origin of Earth, geological changes that occurred on earth through ages, evolution of atmosphere, origin of life in water, spread of life on land, early life forms, early mass extinctions and so on. The exhibition tries to answer several mind-boggling questions that we all ask at times, as how did life originate on our planet? Where did it evolve? Who are our ancestors? Is there life on other planets? Will man survive? And so on.
The next Gallery is Fun Science. This gallery is most liked by the younger visitors because this is full of hands-on exhibits explaining the fundamentals of science. Science has always been a subject which has been dealt with a lot of seriousness in schools. This text bookish approach has made science a very drab and uninteresting subject in the impressionable minds of young children. This gallery seeks to escape from this trap by the method of KISMIF (Keep It Simple- Make It Fun). A whole world of wonder and amazement awaits the visitors here with over a hundred interactive hands-on exhibits. This gallery also houses a 50-seater 3D movie hall which provides a lot of entertainment and thrill. Incidentally, this 3D hall is being upgraded this year with state-of-the-art equipment from the United States so as to provide a fully immersive experience to the viewers.
The gallery on the first floor portrays the march of Information Revolution - from cave paintings to the Internet. The story of evolution of Communication Technology over past 6000 years in India is told here in a large exposition. Walking through time, the visitor finds herself in the midst of the digital Information revolution. We are lucky that we are witnessing this era, experiencing the revolution, which is changing life style so forcefully and quickly. You see the impact everywhere you look. At the checkout counter in your neighborhood shopping malls or drug store, under the hood of your car, at your bank, in your entertainment devices, and at work. Inform@tion.com, "a digital revolution" gallery, is an effort to present to the visitor in an interactive and interesting way, the nuts and bolts behind Digital Information Revolution. Incidentally less than one year after Internet made an appearance in India The Centre made it available to the public through a new facility called the Cyberskool, way back in May 1996.
On the ground floor is the latest addition to the galaxy of galleries, "Emerging Technologies - A look into the future". "Emerging Technologies - A look into the future" which introduces the visitor to a range of sunrise technologies which promise to change Human life in the coming decade. The gallery generally portrays the revolutionary changes that are taking place in nine representative technologies. Applications of these technologies have made possible what would have been considered fantastic a year or two ago. These are Space Technology, Information and Communication Technology, Medical and Biotechnology, Oceanography and Earth Sciences, Agricultural Technology, Material Science, Nanotechnology, Energy and Transportation Technology.
A new Gallery "Water - The Elixir of Life" was inaugurated by Honorable Chief Minister of Delhi Smt. Sheila Dikshit on 14 December 2010. Our Earth is unique because it is the only known place in the universe where water exists as a liquid thus enabling life in all its diversity to thrive here. When human population was small their effect on the planet and its water bodies was also manageable. But over the past century, it has exploded thus creating an adverse impact both on quality and quantity of potable water. Human impact has resulted in growth of sprawling cities and towns which pollute our rivers with increasing amounts of waste and threaten our water systems as we squander this precious resource. This exhibition on Water – The Elixir of Life, is aimed at creating awareness about this scarce and all important source of life among the visitors specially the children.
Entry to the exhibition through a virtual pond of water, that creates ripples as one step on it, excites the visitor. The gallery then unfolds with a plethora of exhibits that cover various issues related to water. How much of it is available on our planet and what percentage of it is potable and in what form is water available on the Earth are some of the issues that are dealt with in the exhibition. Other issues like the water cycle, water on different continents, water in one's body, water conserving devices, water treatment plants, properties of water, cultural and religious practices and their impact on our rivers etc. are also covered in the exhibitions. Significance of water is propounded in almost every religious scripture, and written script exists for water in every language and in every country thus showing how important this life supporting resource is for all of us. The exhibition ends with a computer quiz on water and a pledge which the visitors can take to conserve water and protect this unique life supporting source for our future generations. The Gallery has generated huge interest among the visitors.
- Activity report 2009-10. NCSM
- An Architecture of Independence: The Making of Modern South Asia Archived 3 June 2009 at the Wayback Machine University of Pennsylvania.
- KAPIL SIBAL INAUGURATES EMERGING TECHNOLOGIES GALLERY AT NATIONAL SCIENCE CENTRE Ministry of Science & Technology, 21 July 2007.
- WHAT THE ANCIENTS DID FOR US: A BBC DOCUMENTARY.
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