India enters into Guinness Book for successfully conducting ‘largest practical science lesson’

New Delhi, Dec 17: India strode into the Guinness Book for another landmark achievement as the world record book gave its seal of approval to ‘the largest practical science lesson’, conducted by 2,000 school students from Delhi and the National Capital Region (NCR) as part of the just-concluded India International Science Festival (IISF) at IIT Delhi.

The confirmation from the Guinness Book came just days after the Delhi school students bettered the existing world record in the category, set by a group of 1,339 Irish school pupils.

“The largest practical science lesson is 2,000 participants, achieved by Vijnana Bharati (India), in Delhi, India, on 7 December 2015. Participants worked in small teams to complete experiments as part of the lesson that focused on catalysts,” the Guinness Book mentioned on its website.

Terming it as a ‘momentous achievement’, Science and Technology and Earth Sciences Minister Dr. Harsh Vardhan said students from Delhi and the NCR had made the country proud. “The record-setting event will foster greater interest among students for science not only as a body of knowledge but also a way of life. It will spur them to bring more glories not only for themselves but also for the country,” he added.

“I salute the students who were involved in the historic event, and I share their moment of glory with the people of the country,” said Dr Harsh Vardhan.

The Guinness Book entry was announced at a Press Conference here today by Dr Vijay P. Bhatkar, National President of Vijnana Bharati (VIBHA) and Chairman of the Board of Governors of IIT Delhi; Dr Kshitij Gupta, Director, IIT Delhi; and Mr. A. Jayakumar, Secretary General, VIBHA.

“The entire exercise was meticulously planned and efficiently executed. It was a marvellous experiment in which all the school children carried out the task without any glitch,” Dr Bhatkar said, adding: “It will spur and inspire a host of scientific institutions to undertake similar experiments and bring laurels to the country.”

The Delhi students had attempted the award-making experiment on December 7 as part of the pioneering five-day IISF 2015 at IIT Delhi. The event was jointly organised by the Ministries of Science and Technology and Earth Sciences in collaboration with VIBHA and the Technology Information, Forecasting and Assessment Council (TIFAC).

IIT Director Dr. Kshitij Gupta said the biggest take away from the IISF was that it would ‘inspire and motivate’ the young school children from across the country to dabble in science as a career as conduct meaningful experiments.

“The Guinness Record will have a cascading effect on the young scientific community. It will create a huge curiosity and affinity among schoolchildren towards science,” he added.

The successful ‘largest practical science lesson’ was an initiative of Vijnana Bharati, country’s largest science movement.

“I am extremely happy and proud to announce that the award for the historic feat of school children has been scripted in the name of Vijnana Bharati. This is for the first time that a science body or movement in India has won a Guinness record,” said Mr. Jayakumar. “We accept this award with all humility. It is a grand success; it has made the country proud.”

For the latest record, the 2,000 school students of the 9th to 12th standard – 50 each drawn from 40 schools, both government and private – participated in the 65-minute-long programme. Prof. K. Girish Kumar, senior professor of chemistry at the Cochin University of Science and Technology (CUSAT) in Kerala conceptualised the experiments and led the team conducting the session.

A major feature of the exercise was ‘Elephant Tooth Paste Experiment’ in which hydrogen peroxide underwent catalytic decomposition in the presence of iodide, resulting in the liberation of a large amount of oxygen and foaming up to resemble a giant toothpaste being squeezed. The other experiment was discoloration of methylene blue by hydrogen peroxide.

The event was conducted under the close scrutiny of three independent observers- Mr Dharmendra Kumar, Senior Police Commissioner, Delhi; Mr Arup Kumar Mishra, Director, Assam State Council for Science and Technology; and Prof. Akhil Ahamed, former Vice Chancellor, Mysore University. Also, there were 40 stewards, whose task was to affirm that students did complete the experiment successfully.

The largest practical science lesson before this event was conducted at the Odyssey Arena in Belfast on February 24 this year. As per The Guinness Book of Records, 1,339 primary school students of 7th and 8th standard from Belfast participated in a mass chromatography practical. That effort was supported and conducted by The Royal Society of Chemistry, London. (ANI)

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