The purpose is to make students think out of the box, say organisers of competition

In a country where research in science has taken a backseat for various reasons, a science competition has been gaining popularity among lakhs of students for three decades now.

Dr. Homi Bhabha Balvaidnyanik Competition (child scientist competition), held in Maharashtra every year since 1981, has attracted 42,000 students this year alone (2013-14). More than 10 lakh students from standard VI and IX have appeared for the exam till now. Students from Karnataka, Gujarat, Uttar Pradesh, and Delhi travel all the way here to test their talent.

“There has been a growing demand from Karnataka and Gujarat that this competition be held in the States,” said Pratap Thorat, president of the organising body, >Mumbai Science Teachers’ Association.

“It is a tough competition. Often, students clear one round, but do not last till the end. The exam-cycle itself is of one year,” said Kalyani Asgaonkar, mother of a gold medallist.

There are four stages in the competition, comprising a written test, practical examination, an extensive project on a relevant environmental issue, and an interview. Only 0.1 per cent of the participants make it through the final round, and they are awarded the gold medal. This year, 40 students won the gold medal.

The competition is held in Marathi and English across 190 centres for standard VI and standard IX students. It is open to students of the State Board, the CBSE and the ICSE. Till two years ago, it was held in Hindi as well. But lack of response led to its discontinuation. MSTA invites experts from reputed organisations and institutes like IIT-B to judge the students.

The purpose of the competition, the organisers say, is to encourage students to think out of the box. “We want them to read outside their school curriculum,” Mr Thorat said.


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