In 100 UP villages, people look up at the stars

More than 100 villages in Uttar Pradesh now have ‘house astronomy labs’ set up using panchayat funds at local government schools.

These labs are equipped with a telescope, spectrometer and a variety of pedagogical models depicting Newton’s laws of motion.

According to the UP government spokesman, charts highlighting various aspects of astronomy have been put up everywhere.

Started as a pilot project on Teacher’s Day in 2021 at Sikandrabad (rural) in Bulandshahr, the district has 109 labs set up within a span of six months.

Abhishek Pandey, Chief Development Officer, Bulandshahr, said, “We had proposed this project to roughly 160 gram panchayats and 100 agreed to set up these labs using their own funds. Each lab costs around Rs 2.5 lakh.”

Pandey has been a champion of ‘experiential learning’ in schools and communities.

“The astronomy labs being established at primary and upper-primary schools, are built around the New Education Policy and are aimed at stoking space curiosity at the community level. We want to include both children and adults and explore possibilities of ‘citizen science’.”

That means general public engagement in scientific research activities by using tools and resources provided to them, he said.

The labs have generated a great amount of interest in astronomy, both among children as well as adults.

Every evening, village women make a beeline to gaze at the stars.

This endeavour has also led to the emergence of ‘khagol doot’ (astronomy messengers) among selected school students with a keen interest in science. These messengers act as guides and also help teachers in managing the labs.

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