The largest festival of science in India that gathered 13,000 plus attendees from all over the country will be going online in 2021 as India Science Month Online (ISMO) to bring the country face to face with science on their smart devices.
The festival seeks to simplify and demystify science and technology through numerous virtual activities that would lead to a grand online celebration in Jan 2021.
* The India Science Month Online (ISMO) will host speakers from Oxford, Yale, MIT, NYU, CMU among other world-class institutions
* It will host competitions for PhD and masters students and also a sci-fi writing competition for the general public that is attracting international participation
* Along with Robotics and Space a major theme of the festival is Health, including COVID-19 and the opportunity and limits of traditional methods of medicine
India Science Festival is a non-profit initiative that seeks to bring science closer to society. Last year's festival, at IISER Pune, was a resounding success with 60 plus scientists and global thinkers flying down from world-class institutions to give public talks, panel discussions and workshops to students, professionals and the general public. 74 per cent of ISF's participants rated it 8 and above.
The participants witnessed driverless cars in action, measured their smiles using AI, interacted with humanoid robots and brain-controlled helicopters and had valuable hands-on learning through various workshops and one-on-one interactions with scientists. There were country-wide competitions for researchers and science-enthusiasts. The applications were close to a 1000 in number and the youngest winner for the science project competition was only 13 years old.
The focus areas for ISMO 2021 are Health, Robotics and Space along with cutting-edge technology in engineering, genetics, development in science communication, science policy, etc. This month-long celebration of science, which is expecting more than 30,000 online participants, will feature virtual talks and interactions with something for everyone. Prominent speakers include roboticist Rodney Brooks (MIT), community health specialist and activist Dr Abhay Bang (SEARCH), astrophysicist Priyamvada Natarajan (Yale), theoretical epidemiologist Sunetra Gupta (Oxford), astrobiologist Dimitra Atri (NYUAD), UAVs researcher Sebastian Scherer (CMU), robot implants researcher Ritu Raman (MIT), Padma Shri Awardee Dr Kameshwar Prasad, psychiatrist and researcher Dr Shekhar Saxena (Harvard University) and many other renowned names.
As part of this year's festival, students will have the opportunity to fly postcards to space and back with Club for the Future, a non-profit founded by Blue Origin whose mission is to inspire students to pursue careers in STEM and help visualize the future of life in space to benefit Earth. Student participants from across the country will draw or write their answer on a postcard to the question, 'Why do you think Earth needs space?' Postcards will be flown to space and back on upcoming flights of Blue Origin's reusable New Shepard rocket and returned to each student with a 'Flown to Space' stamp.
ISMO will also run workshops in collaboration with Club for the Future and Blue Origin to educate children about the future of space exploration and inspire them to pursue careers in STEM.
"We're thrilled this program gives every student in India the opportunity to send space mail on a rocket and receive it back for a special keepsake," said Josef Reinke, Director, and Club for the Future. "By enabling students to send a postcard to space, we hope to inspire children to pursue careers in STEM and help build the future of life in space."
"In these times of uncertainty with the worldwide COVID-19 pandemic, we would like to emphasize that more than ever, this is the right time to engage with science. Therefore, to ensure continuity, we will be holding the second edition of the festival as the India Science Month Online (ISMO) in January 2021. ISF is a point of connect for science and society and this year our audiences will engage with us virtually through talks, discussions, competitions, jams and our special postcard program." said Varun Aggarwal, Founder of India Science Festival.
Like last year, the online festival has promising competitions with attractive cash prizes. Perform Your Project, Talk Your Thesis are a continuation of ISF 1 where students will present their thesis/project in a 15-minute lucid talk. These competitions attracted participation from top science colleges/universities from across India like IITs, NITs, IISERs and we are seeing them grow to international participation this year.
Spin you Science, ISF's maiden sci-fi story/poem writing competition is an endeavor to encourage and recognize science writers. Finalists of all competitions will be mentored by leading researchers and will be able to present their work in front of a live global audience at ISMO 2021.
The festival will also have science games, JAMs, drawing competitions, and flash fiction competitions to cater to a variety of interests. There are workshops for both children and adults on topics ranging from science illustration, building robots at home, astronomy, AI - Art, data science, science storytelling, science documentary making and more!
In addition to Club for the Future, the festival is backed by prestigious orgzations including Aspiring Minds, Social Alpha and Tata Institute of Genetics and Society (TIGS).
More details about the festival can be found at: indiasciencefest.org.
Students can register for competitions here: indiasciencefest.org/participate.
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( With inputs from ANI )
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