Covering a distance of almost 86,000 km across the country since 2007 and covering more than 22 lakh schools and 1.09 crore visitors; the special train of Indian Railways- Science Express, Bio-Diversity Special chugged in Ludhiana railway station on Saturday morning.
Interestingly, this is the train’s maiden visit to Ludhiana since its inception seven years back and train will stay at Chandigarh Railway station’s platform number 7 till August 5. Next it will move to Ramnagar in Jammu and Kashmir in this seventh phase of its journey.
However, all the government schools were not intimated in time to bring its students and visit the train, which focuses on eight bio-diversity zones of India along with climate change, kids’ zone for class 1 to 5, joy of science and a coach on sustainable environment which has been introduced for the first time.
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A senior teacher from a government school, requesting anonymity told Newsline, “We got no intimation to bring children for visiting the train. Usually we are informed in advance about such educational trips but we were not informed about Science Express.”
Contacted, Paramjit Kaur Chahal, district education officer too was not aware if all schools have been invited or not. “I have to get it checked if all schools will visit train or not. I did not send any invitations or letters but I will get it checked if science coordinator did it or not.”
Meanwhile, the train designed and conceptualized with initiatives of Ministry of Environment and Forest, Centre for Environment and Education along with Vikram A Sarabhai Community Science Centre, Ahmedabad opens a pandora box for children, adults and even housewives with 13 fully air conditioned coaches.
A group of 32 science communicators, selected through rigorous selection procedure from all across India like Maharashtra, Andhra Pradesh, Orrisa, Goa, Karnataka, Rajasthan, Punjab etc are accompanying the train and explaining concepts to the people.
Science educator Neha, from Ahmedabad told Newsline, “We are making sure that these concepts on flora and fauna are not alien concepts for people. Since months, we are travelling along the train and children are really enjoying it. Some schools will be visiting train soon.”
Vastav and Khushi, students from BCM Arya Model School, Shastri Nagar who came to visit train said, “Practically concepts are always clear than textbooks. We have never seen such a train.”
The 13 coaches inside train are based on: Bio-diversity- our wealth, responsibility and heritage; Trans Himalaya and Himalaya, the Gangetic Plains, North-East India, The Western Ghats, The Indian Desert and Semi arid zone, deccan pennisula, coasts and islands, climate change and water, energy conservation, kids’ zone and joy of science.
Shubhra, the only science coordinator from Punjab hailing from Bathinda said, “In kids’ zone, we are teaching children through fun activities from class 1 to 5.” Raghav Pandya, manager of train said, “The train was also visited by PM Narenda Modi recently and he has assured all assistance to keep train running.”