For the first time in the five years since the inception of the INSPIRE awards to promote scientific research among school children, Jharkhand’s Deoghar district has found a place among a sea of science models displayed at various state stalls at the Indian Institute of Technology (IIT) Delhi.
Ratan Kumar (13) and Ravi Pandit (15), sons of a grocer and potter respectively, had laboured for months on end to create a “solar-powered escalator and water treatment plant at the Baidyanath Temple” and a “rural refrigerator”, currently on display at the India International Science Fair (IISF). Their guides – Shweta Sharma and Vishnu Deo Singh – supported them, and made sure that the Rs 5,000 given to each of them was spent judiciously.
Kumar, a science and maths enthusiast from the Vivekanand Middle School, said he always wanted to fix the problems at Baidyanath Temple – the will for which became stronger after the stampede in August killed 11 and injured 50 people.
“The temple is always overcrowded and buzzing with pilgrims who come to offer Gangajal to the Shivling. At any given time and especially during the month of Shravan, you will find lakhs of people there. In my model, I prescribe using conveyor belts as escalators so that there is no pushing or shoving. It is a good way to manage time as well as the crowd,” he said, showing his model made of polystyrene, cut plastic cola bottles and straws.
Kumar also hopes to reuse the gangajal and the “bel patra” offerings. “The water can be sent to a water treatment plant, through which we can save between 65,990 – 3,29,953 gallons of water per month. If we make two separate dustbins of degradable and bio-degradable waste then the bel patra can be easily used for making fertilisers,” he said, explaining how his model functioned.
Like Kumar, Pandit also picked a project close to his heart. “We come from an agricultural background and my parents work as potters. I have seen how once vegetables are harvested, there is no cold storage for them and soon they rot. My rural refrigerator should provide a solution,” he said.
Made of polystyrene and coconut fiber, the fridge can be run by either solar power or electricity.
“I have designed it in such a way that the light automatically turns off when the door is shut so that the temperature inside doesn’t rise. The coconut fibre works as a dehumidifier,” he said.
Both Kumar and Pandit had the full support of their parents. “My father told me — this looks important, keep improving it and make it work so that it helps all of us,” said Pandit.