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Scholastic performance, self-esteem and science 

In just two years, 25,000 students benefit from science center in India 

By Anjali Kakkar July 16, 2015

Have you ever had a child ask you how much the Earth weighs? Or what air is made of? Or why stars twinkle and oceans don’t freeze?

While many children are curious about science, not all of them have the opportunity to take classes to deeply explore this critically important subject. In India, for example, students attending government schools typically have poor access to infrastructure and have little to no exposure to experiential learning.

To truly bring science to life for children in India, Cargill partnered with the United Way of Delhi and the Agastya International Foundation to set up a science center at the Government Senior Secondary Model School in Gurgaon in 2013. The company invested U.S. $100,000 in the program.

Two years later, more than 25,000 students studying in government schools in grades six to 10 have been able to develop a love of science, hone their scientific thinking, conduct interactive experiments, and have fun in the process. In addition, more than 100 teachers have learned new and interesting ways to teach science.

“The science center acts a hub for students and teachers in the community to learn and teach the concepts of science, ecology and mathematics through a participative approach,” said Siraj Chaudhry, Chairman of Cargill India.

“The need of the hour is to make the process of learning more hands-on and stimulating,” said Chaudhry. “This center ensures that these underprivileged students have access to a better and well-equipped science curriculum and helps them establish a strong foundation in science.”

The fully equipped science lab allows students to learn by conducting experiments rather than learning only via books – and the model is paying off. Teachers report improved scholastic performance, enhanced self-esteem and a greater interest in science among the students.

The children are having a good time, too. “I really enjoy coming to the center as I learn something new every time I come here,” said eighth grader Sneha. “My friends and I would like to come every alternate day here to do hands-on activities and learn. This type of learning is supporting us a lot.”

Lucky, a 7th grader, echoed that sentiment. “Learning with models is very good. We do love to come here instead of sitting in the classroom.”

The science center’s success has inspired an extension of the program with a Mobile Science Lab, supported by the State Council of Education Research and Training in seven districts in the Indian State of Haryana. A van fitted with about 100 models carries science instructors to different schools to conduct science workshops for students.

The success of the program has inspired the Cargill team, as well. “Who knows,” smiled Chaudhry. “Our next Einstein might be from this science center!”