Forget Ooty, Nasa is place for school trips

Discussion in 'Members Corner' started by RAM, Nov 11, 2010.

  1. RAM

    RAM The southern Man Senior Member

    Jul 15, 2009
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    CHENNAI: For most 13-year-olds, going to Disneyland would be a dream come true. But for S Deepak Saran, the visit to the theme park pales in comparison to the experience of being in a NASA (National Aeronautics and Space Administration) simulator. "It was awesome. I was excited to just see the rockets. Then we got a feel of being launched into space in a rocket and breaking away from the force of gravity. It's not something I'll forget soon," gushes the boy, who recently came back from a trip to NASA with other children in his school.

    Excursions to amusement parks and biscuit factories are passé. Schools are now looking overseas to provide students an enriching and educational excursion. An increasing number of schools are facilitating trips to places like NASA, Singapore underworld park or New York's Broadway to inspire students to think big.

    Kashmira Commissariat, COO (outbound division) of Kuoni India, a travel company, says, "Such trips can turn a dull class in marine biology into an exciting underwater experience or introduce a young child to astrophysics and science through hands-on activities in robotics and jet propulsion." Since June, when Kuoni Academy launched its outlearn programme with SOTC, it has escorted more than 15 groups from different schools across the country on such trips.

    The Kennedy Space Centre in Florida seems to be a favourite, mainly because it has its own students programme that includes activities for children. S Varuna Deban, a class VI student of Shree Niketan Matriculation School in Tiruvallur, says, "I liked working as a team on the projects they gave us on each of the six days we spent at the Kennedy Space Centre. I enjoyed the one where we constructed a parachute for an egg to save it from being smashed when dropped from the fifth floor."

    Parents are not hesitant to send their children on these expensive trips, which sometimes cost more than a lakh of rupees. Varuna's father S Surendra Babu, an advocate, says, "It's not everyday that a child from a small town like Tiruvallur gets to speak to real astronauts or see a rocket; so I don't mind the cost. When the children go with the school, I am assured of their safety too."

    Schools encourage these trips as they feel that the exposure a student gets is worth the time, money and effort. R J Bhuvanesh, CEO of Kaligi Ranganathan Montford Matriculation Higher Secondary School in Perambur, who accompanied 15 students to NASA recently, says, "I watched the children enjoying the feeling of micro-gravity where they floated at 50 metres, experienced centrifugal rotation and free fall. Even if we explained these concepts using multimedia, they wouldn't be able to understand it as well as experiencing it."

    As part of the NASA trip, the students got to spend a day in Disneyland and another at Universal Studios, a hub for special effects in movies. P Vishnucharan, correspondent of Shree Niketan school says, "The learning begins from the time they get to the airport in Chennai. They learn value for time, not to speak out of turn and etiquette. I saw the difference in the children before and after the trip."

    Educational consultant K R Maalathi has a word of caution for parents. "There's no doubt such trips help students gain leadership qualities, team work and independence, but schools and tour operators have started making money out of it. Parents should ensure that the itinerary is both child-friendly and educational before they pay up," she says.

    Read more: Forget Ooty, Nasa is place for school trips - The Times of India

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