Science museums, Centers and Parks

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All About Science museums, Centers and Parks

Want a ride in a spacecraft? Just step into a simulator and you could whiz past planets and stars.

Want to know what the dinosaurs looked like? Take a stroll in a dinosaur park with the huge animals making peculiar sounds.

And if you want to know how the heart works, just step inside a life-size model of a heart and you get an idea how the blood flows. You can explore and experience all this and much more if you happen to visit any science museum or science centre that your city or the nearest city boasts of.

Much of the science we read in books is hard to imagine.

Think of electrons in an orbit - double helical DNA - tetrahedral carbon atom -silicon chips - nuclear reactors - eight planets - earthquakes - volcanoes -evolution - sea horses - jelly fishes -insectivorous plants... the world is awesome to experience. It becomes extremely difficult to encapsulate the innumerable scientific phenomena and processes, in straight-jacketed textbooks. And, much more difficult for students to grasp the complexities associated with such phenomena.

Science museums and science centres, however, lend a helping hand, deconstructing complex ideas and explaining them through working models. Science exhibits at such places are unique resources for non-formal education helping develop skills and positive attitudes towards science. They not only give wings to our imagination but also provide a better understanding of the world around us. They are places to discover, explore, and test ideas about the natural world.

Science museums concentrate mainly on display of things related to different disciplines of science – Physics, chemistry, mathematics, biology, geology, paleontology, information technology, industry and industrial development.

The galleries are full of exhibits related to physics, chemistry, mathematics, biology, geology, information technology, electronics and other branches of science. Then there is usually an auditorium or hall for demonstrations and lectures on different types of science. An exhibit may often provide an opportunity for joint experimentation too.

The main aim of science museums is to popularize science by inculcating a science attitude and spreading general awareness amongst the people, especially children. They also present the advancement of science and technology and their applications in industry and human welfare. Mobile exhibitions, seminars, popular lectures, science camps and various other programs organized by science museums and science centres help to bring the common man closer to science. In a way, they promote a spirit of scientific enquiry and creativity among the young and old alike.

Many science centres in the country even render assistance to schools, colleges, universities, technical institutions, and other educational bodies in imparting better science education to students. Another objective of science museums is eradication of superstitions from the society.

Mobile exhibitions are also very helpful to students in rural areas because the exhibits are correlated to their science books. The scientific complexities are better understood when students come across exhibits depicting scientific phenomena or processes. The idea becomes clearer on further discussions with friends, teachers, and guides at the museum.

Another activity at science centres is the organization of summer camps for teachers and students. Through these camps they are able to develop devices and kits to demonstrate the particular subject they teach or learn.

A science museum exhibits historical artifacts, exhibits of natural phenomena, scientific ideas or technological inventions or exhibits of more contemporary science. Based on in-depth scientific principles but designed to serve the broadest general public, these exhibits create a beautiful learning environment, where people of all ages learn while enjoying.

The scientific phenomena and concepts are exhibited through specially designed devices, machines and instruments. Some science museums also have biological or life science galleries that inform people about extinct or endangered species, their habit, habitat, nature etc. to create environmental awareness among the people.

Science Centres in India

India has a number of science and science cities located in states. The National Council; Museums (NCSM), New Delhi largest network of science museums/parks under administrative umbrella in the world It is an autonomous society Ministry of Culture, Government of India, established on 4 April 1978. It works with a network of 27 centres located all over the country.

The NCSM tries to present science through different exhibits an that help students and teach their understanding of phenomena and gain practical knowledge. The galleries of all science museums are changed every two to three years.

Another important body is the National Agricultural Science Museum, New Delhi that can be called the pioneer of agricultural science museums in India. This museum tries to keep an account of the ancient agricultural practices of India as well as modern technological advancements.

Science City, Kolkctta

The NCSM's Science City in Kolkata consists of several exciting sections such as Space Odyssey, Dynamotion, Evolution Theme Park, Maritime Centre and a Science Park. The Space Odyssey houses India's first Large Format Film Theatre, Time Machine, 3-D Vision Theatre, Mirror Magic and exhibits on space science, motion, electricity and virtual reality. The Dynamotion Hall has a Butterfly Corner, Aquaria, an exposition on giant robotic insects and a host of interactive exhibits for both education and entertainment of the visitors. Another attraction is the Space Theatre - a circular auditorium with a dome-shaped ceiling. The Earth Exploration Hall puts the earth on display. It tells about the evolution of earth over a period of 4.5 billion years giving it all the geographical, geological, political, historical, biological and climatic attributes.

Nehru Science Centre, Mumbai

Nehru Science Centre has a Science Park with varieties of plants, trees and shrubs. More than fifty hands-on and interactive science exhibits on energy, sound, kinematics, mechanics, transport, etc. are installed in the science park. Its unique architecture houses several permanent science expositions on various themes such as the Nehru Planetarium, a centre for scientific study of astronomy; Discovery of India, a permanent unique exposition covering every aspect of artistic, intellectual and philosophical attainment of India through the ages, depicted in 14 galleries; The Hall of Computing Gallery, an exposition comprising of 40 interactive models and computer-based exhibits.

National Science Centre, New Delhi

National Science Centre, New Delhi is one of the largest and best science centres of the National Council of Science Museum (NCSM) with good scientific models, participatory exhibits, and interesting artifacts on display. It provides great insights of science to children and elders alike with lots of fun and education. There are many galleries in the centre with displays based on different theories and laws of science that can be understood by the students by demonstrating it practically. The models displayed at the Human Biology gallery are very interesting and fascinating. There are also a number of displays giving information about Nobel Prize winners and eminent Indian personalities. It also houses a good library and an inflatable planetarium apart from the Cyber School, which organizes various short-term courses for students as well as teachers. A newly inaugurated Indian Heritage Gallery showcases ancient Indian science.

Visveswaraya Industrial and Technological Museum, Bangalore

Visveswaraya Industrial and Technological Museum is situated on the Kasturba Road in Bangalore. It's named after Sri M. Visveswaraya, the Dewan of Mysore. It comprises of five galleries—Popular Science Gallery, Kimbe Paper Metals Gallery, Children's Science Gallery, Electronic Technology Gallery and Engine Hall Gallery. This museum has special exhibits showcasing the working of different types of machines. Apart from airplane and steam engine, a number of other items are also on display inside the museum, e.g. exhibits on electronics, motor power, uses and properties of wood and metal, etc. It also has a mobile science exhibition. The exhibition remains on a tour of the entire state of Kamataka throughout the year.

Birla Industrial and Technological Museum, Kolkata

Birla Industrial and Technological Museum (BITM) is situated on the Gurusaday Road, Kolkata. It came into being in 1 956 due to the initiative of Sri B.C. Roy, the then Chief Minister of West Bengal. In the galleries of BUM different models of electricity, nuclear physics, optics, iron and steel, communication and mining are exhibited. One feels like going down a coal mine while visiting the mining galleries. BUM also showcases live animals like snakes and other reptiles, rabbits and possesses an aviary and an aquarium. BUM has an exhibition called "Rivers" consisting of visual panels, interactive exhibits, videos, multimedia and games with quiz.

Pushpa Gujral Science City, Kapurthala

The biggest project of its kind in Northern India, the Science City has been set up on 72 acres of land in the heart of Punjab, on Jalandhar-Kapurthala Road. The foundation stone of the Science City was laid by former Prime Minister Shri I. K. Gujral on October 17, 1997.The subject areas covered include physical, applied, natural and social sciences, engineering, technology, agriculture, health sciences, energy, industries, human evolution and civilization, the environment, ecosystems, Jurassic parks as well as frontier areas like space, nuclear science, information technology, robotics and Bio-technology.

Some important science centres in India

  1. Birla Industrial & Technological Museum, 19AGurusaday Road, Kolkata-700019
  2. B.M. Birla Science Centre, Hyderabad
  3. Gujarat Science City, Science City Road, off Sarkhej Gandhinagar Highway, Ahmedabad – 380060
  4. National Museum of Natural History, FICCI Museum Building, BarakhambaRoad, New Delhi-110001 16.
  5. National Science Centre, Pragati Maidan, Near Gate No. 1, Bhairon Road,New Delhi-110001
  6. Nehru Science Centre, Dr E. Moses Road, Worli, Mumbai - 40001 8
  7. Pushpa Gujral Science City, Jalandhar-Kapurthala Road, Kapurthala, Punjab
  8. Raman Science Centre, Opp. Gandhi Sagar, Nagpur-440018
  9. Regional Science Centre, Banganga Road, Shamla Hills, Bhopal – 462022
  10. Regional Science Centre, Planetarium Road, Calicut-673006
  11. Regional Science Centre, Aliganj Extension, Sector-E, Lucknow – 226020
  12. Regional Science Centre, Near Alipiri Gate, Alipiri, Tirupati - 517507
  13. Regional Science Centre, Near Alipiri Gate, Alipiri, Tirupati - 517507
  14. Science City, JBS Haldane Avenue, Kolkata – 700046
  15. Visvesvaraya Industrial & Technological Museum, Kasturba Road, Bangalore - 560001
  16. Goa Science Centre, Dona Paula Road, Panaji -403001
  17. Bardhaman Science Centre, Ramna Maidan Babur Bag, Bhardhaman -7131 04, W.B
  18. District Science Centre, Garden Road, Dharampur- 396050
  19. Digha Science Centre and National Science Camp, Foreshore Road, Digha-721463
  20. District Science Centre, Municipal Garden, Gulbarga - 585103
  21. District Science Centre, North Lake Road, Purulia - 723101
  22. District Science Centre, Kokkirakulam, Tirunelveli - 627009
  23. Kurukshetra Panorama & Science Centre, Pehowa Road, Kurukshetra - 136118
  24. North Bengal Science Centre, Matigara, Siliguri - 734401
  25. Regional Science Centre, J.L. Nehru Marg, Bhubaneswar- 751013
  26. Regional Science Centre, Jawaharnagar, Khanapara, Guwahati - 781022
  27. Shrikrishna Science Centre, West Gandhi Maidan, Patna - 800001
  28. Regional Science Centre Vijayawada
  29. Kerala Science and Technology Museum
  30. Science Centre, Port Blair, A & N Island
  31. Mizoram Science Centre, Aizawl, Mizoram
  32. Nagaland Science Centre, Dimapur, Nagaland
  33. Dr. Abdul Kalam Science Centre & Planetarium Puducherry
  34. Regional Science Centre, Dehradun, Uttarakhand
  35. Bargarh Science Centre, Bargarh, Odisha
This information is courtesy of "Science Reporter"
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