Sameer Kumar Mishra, a Mechanical Engineer, was working in Metal Recycling Industry in Jaipur when he realized that he had a different calling. Leaving the job was difficult. He quotes Peter Thiel “I realized that quitting means just walking out of the 6 ft door. Yet people’s aspirations and responsibility don’t let them do it, sometimes forever. Because psychologically this was not what people were capable of, because when their identity was defined by competing so intensely with other people, they could not imagine leaving.”
As Law of Attraction emphasizes on our ability to attract into our lives whatever we are focusing on, Sameer, currently an SBI Youth for India fellow, says that it is by chance he ended up applying for the fellowship seeing its advertisement in an SBI ATM nearby.
He was appointed to work with Gram Vikas in Odisha which exposed him to the functioning of government schools and he decided to be a contributor in making the schools better.
Sameer who has been recognized by NASA for one of his models quotes Narayan Murthy “There has not been a single invention from India in the last 60 years that became a household name globally, nor any idea that led to “earth shaking” invention to “delight global citizens”.
His experience in design projects during his academics told him that a lab needs to exist where students from a very young age can make models using the locally available resources which will enable them to gradually increase their levels to more complex models. With this vision he started working with middle school students in Gram Vikas Vidya Vihar, a small school located in a remote village called Rudhapadar between the scenic Eastern Ghats in Ganjam district of Odisha.
Initially he collected all the materials himself for the kids to make simple models like those of school, collage of renowned personalities, pollution etc. He noticed a group of students making a windmill using straw and paper which triggered him to encourage the students to make scientific models. With little guidance and effort two students developed a Periscope using pipes, broken pieces of mirror and chart paper. The kids were amazed at the ease in preparing it and wondered why it was invented in Europe and not in India. The idea was that if kids make models of the things that are invented in other countries using local material all by themselves, itenhances their creativity and confidence and gives them a vision to invent something for their own country when they grow up.
Two kids, Deepak and Sitaram have been instrumental in making many models like U tube manometer, cup anemometer using coffee cups, Newton’s disk using motor from old toys. They have built a section in the computer lab of their school called “Navonmesh Prayogshala” a Sanskrit-Odia name for Innovation Lab where all their models are kept.
Seeing the success the Principal of the school has introduced science model making in their syllabus.
These students have now passed out to senior school in another school of Gram Vikas in Kankia village where they have started collecting materials to build their very own Navonmesh Prayogshala.
The impact is such that people from Regional Museum of Natural History visited the school and have decided to set up a Biodiversity Centre there. A headmaster of a nearby government residential school has invited Sameer to train the students to set up a similar lab in his school as well. Pratham Education Foundation has collaborated with the school to conduct workshops on model making in Biology involving digestive system and skeletal system.
Sameer who has learnt to speak and read Odia has also taught Google Voice to students with which they search like Abdul Kalam, Arvind Gupta and his toys by merely speaking and are learning more with less effort. This has drastically increased the students love for learning by bridging language barrier and developing their interest for working on scientific models.
“I believe that if all schools have such labs we would certainly have a breakthrough product coming from India in the coming years.” he says.
He hopes to replicate his model in other schools as well. He thanks his college and school mates who have been proactively providing him support for the labs.