POULARIZATION OF SCIENCE THROUGH SCIENCE CENTRES: A CASE STUDY OF NEHRU SCIENCE CENTRE, MUMBAI

 

Report Code: PI150003

No. of Pages: 128 pages

Price (Single User): $0.00

 

By: Mintu Sinha & Khagendra Kumar

Published Date: 07/Nov/2016

 

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1. Introduction

2. Review of related studies

3. The problem, methodological issues and plan of study

4. The emergence and development of science museums and centres in india

5.The development, structure and function of Nehru Science Centre, Mumbai

6. Analysis and interpretation of primary data

7.Summary and conclusion

Cultivation of science should include knowledge of science as well as capacity to recognize the misuse of science. We live in exciting times, for it is the century of science and technology.

Informal science learning environments (e.g., science museums, zoos and outdoor settings; youth programs; science media) could be utilized to maximize this end. Informal science learning can take place in many environments, e.g., natural history parks, geological sites, zoos, botanical gardens, industry, science museums and nature centres.  Informal science learning through field trips will include the following features: Voluntary, Unstructured, Unsequenced, Nonassessed, Unevaluated, Open-ended, Learner-led, Learner-centered, Out-of-school context, Non-curriculum-based, Many unintended outcomes, Less directly measurable outcomes, and Social intercourse.

Some of the provisions which are related to the spread of science through science museums and science centres and other  informal agencies in the S&T Policy of the Government of India published in 2003 are as follows:

_ To ensure that the message of science reaches every citizen of India, man and woman, young and old, so that we advance scientific temper, emerge as a progressive and enlightened society, and make it possible for all our people to participate fully in the development of science and technology and its application for human welfare. Indeed, science and technology will be fully integrated with all spheres of national activity;

_ To promote the empowerment of women in all science and technology activities and

Public awareness of Science & Technology constitutes an important part of the latest S&T Policy (2003) of the Government of India.

_ There is growing need to enhance public awareness of the importance of science and technology in everyday life, and the directions where science and technology is taking us. Programmes will also be developed to promote learning and dissemination of science through the various national languages, to enable effective science communication at all levels. In general the activities of science museums and science centres have been identified as an area for promoting public awareness of science & technology and the Government of India has given a special thrust in this area.

To achieve the objectives of spread of science among the masses including school children, the role of science museums or centres facilitating interaction with science and technology becomes vital. These museums or centres are characterized as non-formal or informal science education institutions. The Science Centre activities can present the thrill of science to the students starting from the school level and therefore, supplement formal school education by its doing science approach. The policies of the Government of India related to Science & Technology Museums and Centres received a thrust when a Task Force constituted by the Planning Commission of the Government of India recommended fast growth in infrastructure and activities of science museums. Riding on these recommendations, the present infrastructure of about 40 science museums and science centres has been created. The task force saw immense potential of the Science Museums for creation of science awareness and a scientific temper among the people at large and made several recommendations.

The Centre at Mumbai was started with a pioneering approach towards science education through fun and enjoyment by way of creating an outdoor “SciencePark”. For the first time, science learning was to take place outside the four walls.

Nehru Science Centre, first conceived as a Science & TechnologyMuseum in late sixties, took final shape as India’s largest interactive science centre in 1977 to match the world trends in such public institutions.   The full- fledged science centre was finally opened to public on November 11,1985..

National Council of Science Museums (NCSM), the parent body of Nehru Science Centre, Mumbai, with its 29 Science Centres / Museums all over the country, has the best infrastructure and skilled manpower to conceptualize, design, develop and organize high quality science exhibits and other related educational programmes and activities

Nehru Science Centre, among the four National level Science Museums in NCSM, working as the Western Zone Headquarters with five science centres in Nagpur, Calicut, Bhopal, Dharampur and Goa under its umbrella caters to the people in the Western part of India. The centre attempts to enhance public understanding of science and spread scientific literacy. The scientific literacy development or enhancing public understanding of science programs of every nation necessarily attempt to bridge the gap between the knowledge of common people and the creation of new knowledge in science and technology. The objective of the science center is thus to create awareness and knowledge of scientific habits, adoption of method of science in day-to-day activities and development of scientific attitudes/ temper to improve quality of lives of people.

Recently National Council of Science Museums (NSCM) has felt the need for impact assessment of Indian Science Museum/Centre activities. Preparations are on in some of the Science Centres. The researcher undertook the impact study of NSC, Mumbai in 2005 as a part of her PhD programme in order to understand the impact of science centre in spreading science among the common people which in turn  will help in reshaping the science centre movement in the country in terms of processes and priorities.

The problem, methodological issues and plan of study

On the basis of discussion in the introductory chapter the investigator perceived Nehru Science Centre (NSC), Mumbai as a unique instance of Science Centre in India in order to know the impact of science centres in the spread of science. The NSC  has the best infrastructure and skilled manpower to conceptualize, design, develop and organize high quality science exhibits and other related educational programmes and activities. The problem selected for the present stusy is  ‘Impact of Science Centres in the Spread of Science: A case Study of Nehru Science Centre, Mumbai’

The following research questions were formulated in order to carryout the proposed study:

  1. How did NSC unfold to the present state?
  2. What is the present organizational structure of NSC?
  3. What are the key activities carried out by NSC for the masses?
  4. What are the activities carried out for the school children?
  5. What is the impact of these activities on the people?

The investigator adopted incidental sampling method for selection of samples for getting holistic information about NSC and information about randomly selected specific galleries so that maximum variations in the information can be captured .

The investigator planned to carryout a pilot survey of NSC, Mumbai before finalizing tools and collection of data for the present study. The investigator also planned to record preliminary data in the diary by informal observation of its facilities and ongoing programmes. On the basis of preliminary data and study of collected literatures during pilot survey, the investigator planned to identify aspects of NSC to be studied from different sources in order to seek answer to research questions formulated for the study.

Visitors formed the target group of the NSC. They were the most important source of information in order to know the impact of  science centre on the spread of science. It was planned to obtain the their responses/opinions by administering questionnaires/opinionnaires. It was decided to administer a questionnaire and an opinionionnaire on the sample visitors. The questionnaire was intended to get general information about them, to know their reasons for visiting NSC, to know the kind of facilities and programmes observed by them, to know their liking for facilities and programmes etc. The  opinionnaire was intended to get the  extent of satisfaction with facilities holistically and overall impact of NSC. It was also planned to administer another four different questionnaires based on four randomly selected galleries to the small visitor samples at the gallery site. The investigator planned to analyze the data inductively.

The general questionnaire was consisted of eleven questions. The another four questionnaires were based on four randomly selected galleries of NSC namely  Sound and Hearing Gallery, Light and Sight Gallery, Evolution Gallery and  Man and Machine gallery. Each questionnaire was consisted of ten questions.

Two separate structured open ended interviews were constructed, one for the Director of NSC and another for Curators of NSC.

Nothing is specified about the visitors and their timing of visit during the visiting hour of  NSC. For administration  general questionnaires and opinionnaires 1000 visitors will be selected and for administration of  four gallery based questionnaires 100 visitors will be selected at each of the gallery site.

Finally responded general questionnaires from 600 visitors were available for analysis and 70 questionnaires each for Sound& Hearing Gallery, Light& Sight Gallery, and Man& Machine Gallery and 60 questionnaires for Evolution Gallery were available for analysis.

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Analysis  and Interpretation of  data

Visitors’ Responses on  general questionnaire

Responses on  general questionnaire was received from 600 visitors of the Nehru Science Centre (NSC), Mumbai. This questionnaire was administered on the visitors in order to get general information about them and their general perception about NSC programmes.

Nearly one third ( 186 out of 600 i.e.31 percent) of the total respondents were students. On the basis of their information about age, it was revealed that over two third (67.7 percent) of the student visitors were school students. Nearly over one third (32 .3 percent) of student visitors was from colleges, universities and other institutions of higher learning. Among the total student visitors 45.7 percent was female and 54.3 percent was male students.  

Among the total student visitors 45.7 percent was female and 54.3 percent was male students. Nearly four percent ( 23 out of 600 i.e. 3.8 percent) of the total respondents was school teachers who accompanied students to the Centre. Out of twenty three teachers sixteen   (69.6 percent) teacher respondents were female.

Nearly over half  (52.3 percent) of the total respondents visited the NSC for acquiring knowledge, nearly one third (29.7 percent) visited for entertainment and twenty percent visitors visited out of their interest in science. A large number of respondents provided more than one reasons for visiting the NSC. Nearly one tenth (9.7 percent) of respondents visited the Centre for acquiring knowledge of science and entertainment both. A small proportion of respondents (3.5 percent) gave all the three reasons for visiting the Centre. A little over two third (58.5percent) of the total respondents was first time visitors to the NSC. Nearly one fourth (31.2 percent) of the respondents visited the Centre twice. A very high proportion (86.3 percent) of the respondents mentioned that they would recommend others to visit the NSC. Only a very small proportion (3.2 percent) of the total respondents visited all the galleries. Nearly one fifth (19.6 percent) of the respondents was not interested in visiting all galleries.

In response to the three most liked about galleries, nearly two third of the total respondents liked ‘Science for Children’ (68.7 percent) and ‘ChildrenSciencePark’ (64.7percent). These two galleries were liked by very high proportion (93.5 percent) of respondents who were school students. Almost all respondents visited science shows. Out of 600 respondents only twenty one (4  percent) visited Cyberskool. Nehru Science Centre, Mumbai organizes various occasional programmes especially for school students like science seminar, science demonstration lecture, science quiz contest, science drama contest, astronomy Olympiad etc. No school student respondents ever participated in science demonstration lecture, science drama contest and meet the scientists programmes. Participation was very low (less than 2 percent of the school student respondents) in these  programmes except science quiz contest. If proportions of sample parent visitors and sample teacher visitors  are included in common visitors, the proportion of common visitors also comes to over two third of the total sample visitors.

 Visitors’ Responses on Opinionnaire

Nearly sixty (59.7) percent of the total visitor respondents were of the opinion that exhibits were educative to the extent of their satisfaction. A small proportion (5.7 percent) of these visitor respondents were of the opinion that exhibits at NSC were educative to the extent of low satisfaction. It appears that a very high proportion (93.3 percent) of the total visitor respondents found the exhibits at NSC educative either to the extent of great satisfaction or satisfaction.

Nearly one third (32.8 percent) of the total visitor respondents were satisfied with the statement to the great extent, nearly half (48.3 percent) of the visitor respondents agreed to the statement to the extent of their satisfaction. It appears that a high proportion (81.1 percent) of the visitor respondents found the exhibits interactive at least to their satisfaction but a significant proportion of the visitor respondents  did not find the exhibits satisfactory.

Nearly forty percent of the visitor respondents were of the opinion that the exhibits helped in understanding complex scientific principles to the extent of their satisfaction. Nearly one third of the visitor respondents opined that the exhibits helped in understanding complex scientific principles to the extent of their low satisfaction.

Nearly forty percent of the visitors were of the opinion that the NSC visit helps in learning new information and knowledge of science and technology to the extent of great satisfaction. Nearly fifty percent of the visitors were of the opinion that the NSC visit helps in creating interest in science and technology to the extent of their satisfaction. Nearly one fourth of the visitor respondents were of the opinion that the NSC visit helps in creating interest in science and technology to the extent of low satisfaction. Surprisingly few visitor respondents  were of the opinion that the NSC visit helps in helps in creating interest in science and technology to the extent of no satisfaction at all. Although a high proportion of seventy percent of the visitor respondents were of the opinion that the NSC visit helps in creating interest in science and technology at least to the extent of  their satisfaction, but a sizeable proportion of  nearly thirty percent of the visitor respondents were of the opinion that the NSC visit helps in creating interest in science and technology to the extent of low or no satisfaction at all. This and some other similar reasons may be responsible for the opinion of nearly thirty percent visitor respondents  that the NSC visit creates interest in science and technology  to the extent of low satisfaction or no satisfaction at all. About one fifth of the visitor respondents were of the opinion that the NSC visit helps in understanding socially relevant issues of science and technology to the extent of great satisfaction.  About fourteen percent of the visitor respondents were of the opinion that the NSC visit helps in understanding relevant social issues of science and technology to the extent of no satisfaction at all. About one tenth of the visitor respondents were of the opinion that the NSC visit helps in understanding the misuse of science and technology to the extent of great satisfaction. About one third of the visitor respondents were of the opinion that the NSC visit helps in understanding the misuse of science and technology to the extent of their satisfaction. Again about one third of the visitor respondents were of the opinion that the NSC visit helps in understanding the misuse of science and technology to the extent of low satisfaction. About fifteen percent of the visitor respondents were of the opinion that the NSC visit helps in understanding the misuse of science and technology to the extent of no satisfaction at all. About half of  the visitor respondents were of the opinion that the NSC helps in understanding modern day use of science and technology to the extent of their satisfaction. Nearly one tenth  of the visitor respondents were of the opinion that the NSC helps in understanding modern day use of science and technology to the extent of their low satisfaction. Nearly one third of the visitor respondents were of the opinion that the NSC visit helps in spreading science among the common people  to the extent of their great satisfaction. Nearly half of the visitor respondents were of the opinion that the NSC visit helps in spreading science among the common people  to the extent of their satisfaction. A sizeable proportion of about sixteen percent of the visitor respondents were of the opinion that the NSC visit helps in spreading science among the common people  to the extent of their low satisfaction.

Visitors’ Responses on Gallery Based Questionnaires

The different galleries in the main building of Nehru Science Centre are full of exciting, interactive and interesting exhibits on various topics. These exhibits also facilitate the common people to understand and appreciate principles of science through fun and pleasure. The investigator has tried to know the effectiveness of the following four randomly selected galleries in spread of science:

  1. Sound and Hearing Gallery
  2. Light and Sight Gallery
  3. Evolution Gallery
  4. Man and Machine

 

In order to know the effectiveness of the above galleries four separate questionnaires were constructed. Each of the four questionnaires was administered on hundred visitors in the respective gallery with a request to drop in the collection box before leaving the site. Each questionnaire was consisted of nine incomplete sentences to be completed by responding any of the three responses. The response denoting the highest, average and lowest  effectiveness of the gallery was given a weightage  of 3, 2 and 1 score points respectively. The maximum points that could be obtained was 27 and minimum was 09. Out of hundred visitors, seventy seven dropped the questionnaires in the collection box. Four questionnaires were dropped without giving response and three were incomplete. Hence seventy questionnares were available for analysis.

In order to decide the effectiveness of this gallery on visitor respondents, the scores were classified into three groups as follows:

09-14       Less effective

10-15 Effective

Above 21  very effective

1. Sound and Hearing:

 

About one third (34.3 percent)of the visitor respondents found the Sound and Hearing  Gallery very effective, half (50 percent) of them found the gallery effective and nearly sixteen percent (15.7 percent) found the gallery less effective.

A very high proportion (84.3 percent) of the visitor respondents found the Sound and Hearing  Gallery effective or very effective and thus may have similar impact on spread of science.

Out of seventy Visitor respondents, forty were female and thirty were male. Little above one third (35 percent) of the female visitor respondents found the Sound and Hearing Gallery very effective, half (50 percent) of them found the gallery effective and nearly fifteen percent  found the gallery less effective. Similarly one third (33 percent) of the male female visitor respondents found the gallery very effective, half (50 percent) of them found the gallery effective and nearly seventeen percent found the gallery less effective. The trend is almost similar in both cases.

A very high proportion (83-85 percent) of the male and female visitor respondents found the gallery effective or very effective and thus may have similar impact on spread of science.

There were many exhibits in the Sound and Hearing Gallery. In response to the question 10 of the questionnaire, the visitor respondents selected one exhibit which was found by them most effective. The above diagram reveals that Piano (17 percent), Virtual reality (23 percent) and Virtual harp (20 percent) were considered most effective exhibits by sixty percent of the visitor respondents. Rest thirty percent visitor respondents considered other seven exhibits as most effective. It appears that almost all the exhibits were considered effective by some of the respondents. It may be due to their interest inclination in different phenomena related to sound and hearing. The gallery spreads various scientific knowledge related to sound and hearing.

2. Light and Sight:

The data reveal that 46.7 percent of the visitor respondents found the Light and Sight Gallery very effective, 51.6 percent of them found the gallery effective and 1.7 percent found the gallery less effective.

Only a miniscule proportion of the visitor respondents found the gallery less effective.   Almost all (98.3 percent) visitor respondents found the gallery effective or very effective and thus may have very high impact on the spread of scientific knowledge in the concerned area.

Out of seventy Visitor respondents, twenty were female and forty were male.

In the Light and Sight Gallery the number of the female visitors who responded was higher than male visitor respondents. The above tables and diagrams reveal that  forty percent of the female visitor respondents found the gallery very effective and sixty percent of them found the gallery effective. None of them found the gallery less effective. In case of male visitor respondents fifty seven percent found the gallery very effective, 57 percent of them found the gallery effective and a very small proportion of three percent found the gallery less effective. It appears that there is noticeable difference in the proportion of male and female visitor respondents who found this Gallery very effective. This difference is also noticeable in the proportion of male and female visitor respondents who found this Gallery effective.  Although  almost (97-100 percent) male and female visitor respondents found the gallery effective or very effective and thus may have very high impact on the spread of concerned scientific knowledge .

There were many exhibits in the Light and Sight Gallery. In response to the question 10 of the questionnaire, the visitor respondents selected one exhibit which was found by them most effective.

The exhibits Thermal Image (22 percent), illusions (13 percent) and hologram (11 percent) were considered most effective exhibits by about half (46 percent) of the visitor respondents. About one fourth (27 percent) of the visitor respondents considered other three exhibits namely Artificial Light (9 percent), Colour Perception (9 percent) and Refraction (9 percent) most effective. Other seven exhibits were considered  most effective by rest of the visitor respondents in different proportion extending from 3-6 percent. It appears that almost all the exhibits were considered effective by some of the respondents. It may be due to their interest inclination in different phenomena related to sound and hearing. The gallery spreads various scientific knowledge related to sound and hearing

3. Evolution Gallery:

Sixty percent of the total visitor respondents found the Evolution Gallery very effective and forty percent of them found the gallery effective.   All the visitor respondents found the gallery very effective or effective and thus may have nearly optimum impact on the spread of scientific knowledge in the concerned area.

Out of sixty visitor respondents eighteen were female and forty were male. In the Evolution Gallery the number of the female visitors who responded was lower than male visitor respondents. Two third (67 percent) of the female visitor respondents found the gallery very effective and one third (60 percent) of them found the gallery effective. None of them found the gallery less effective. In case of male visitor respondents fifty seven percent found the gallery very effective and forty three percent of them found the gallery effective. Like female visitor respondents none of them too found the gallery less effective. It appears that the proportion of male and female visitor respondents who found this Gallery very effective was higher than those who found the gallery effective. The trend is similar in both the cases. But less than half of the female visitor respondents responded to the questionnaires in comparison to male visitor respondents.

 

There were many exhibits in the Evolution Gallery. In response to the question 10 of the questionnaire, the visitor respondents selected one exhibit which was found by them most effective. The exhibits Volcano (16 percent), Early stone tools (14 percent), Growing teeth (12 percent) and Climate of world (12 percent) were considered most effective exhibits by more than half (54 percent) of the visitor respondents. About one fourth (23 percent) of the visitor respondents considered other three exhibits namely Weight of planets (9 percent), Evolution of man (7 percent), and Aging of nature (7 percent) most effective. Other exhibits were considered  most effective by rest of the visitor respondents in different proportion extending from 2-5 percent. It appears that almost all the exhibits were considered effective by some of the respondents. It may be due to their interest inclination in different phenomena related to sound and hearing. The gallery spreads various scientific knowledge related to sound and hearing

 

  1. 5.      Man and Machine Gallery:

 

Nearly one fifth (19 percent) percent of the total visitor respondents found the Man and Machine Gallery very effective, well above half (57 percent) of them found the gallery effective and nearly one fourth (24 percent) found the gallery less effective.

A little above two third (76 percent) of the total visitor respondents found the gallery effective or very effective and thus may have high impact on the spread of scientific knowledge in the concerned area. But a substantial proportion (nearly one fourth) of the total visitor respondents found the gallery less effective.

 

Out of seventy visitor respondents twenty eight were female and forty two were male. In the Man and Machine Gallery the number of the male visitors who responded was higher than female visitor respondents. The above tables and diagrams reveal that eighteen percent of the female visitor respondents found the gallery very effective and fifty three percent of them found the gallery effective. Twenty nine of them found the gallery less effective. In case of male visitor respondents nineteen percent found the gallery very effective, sixty percent of them found the gallery effective and twenty one percent found the gallery less effective. It appears that the proportion of male and female visitor respondents who found this Gallery very effective is nearly equal. In both the cases highest proportion of visitor respondents found the gallery effective. A substantial   proportion of female and male visitor respondents found the gallery less effective. In case of female it was 29 percent and in case of male it was 21 percent. The trend is similar but relatively higher proportion of female visitor respondents found the gallery less effective.      Although nearly two third (76 percent) of the total (male and female) visitor respondents found the gallery effective or very effective and thus may have  high impact on the spread of concerned scientific knowledge. But from the above data regarding less effective responses it may be interpreted that some exhibits in the Man and Machine Gallery may be found less interesting and interactive by a substantial proportion of female (29 percent) and male (21 percent)  visitor respondents.

There were many exhibits in the Man and Machine Gallery. In response to the question 10 of the questionnaire, the visitor respondents selected one exhibit which was found by them most effective. The above diagram shows that the exhibit Heart was considered most effective exhibit by nearly one third (31 percent) of the visitor respondents. Forty five of the visitor respondents considered other three exhibits namely Cycling Skeleton (16 percent), Muscle Power (16 percent), and Stability Test (13 percent) most effective. Other exhibits were considered  most effective by rest of the visitor respondents in different proportion extending from 2-7 percent. It appears that almost all the exhibits were considered effective by some of the respondents. It may be due to their interest inclination in different phenomena related to sound and hearing. The gallery spreads various scientific knowledge related to sound and hearing

 

 Interview Responses of the NSC Director and Curators

In the following sections responses obtained from the director of the Nehru Science Centre (NSC) Mumbai have been analyzed and interpreted.

 Explaining the objectives of the Nehru Science Centre, Mumbai its director said  ‘Through schools and colleges one learns about the science subject, but there is no system beyond school to learn science. Science can be fun. The other programmes which we have undertaken are the Science Quiz Contest, Hobby Camps, Science Films, etc.

The NSC has developed various regular  facilities/programmes  for the common public to get scientific knowledge through experiences and observations. The NSC also organizes some training programmes for school teachers so that they could learn modern approaches in impart knowledge of science to the students. The programmes of the NSC has been discussed in chapter IV.

The NSC is an important centre for school visits. The NSC also organizes some planned visits for schools on request. According to the Director of the NSC the school visits are of two types.  According to the curators the Energy Ball Exhibit, 3D Show and Science for Children Gallery were most popular programmes of the NSC. According to the director of the NSC  the Science Quiz Programme was the most popular programme among the students.  Infact the least visited or used exhibits are the computer based exhibits

Visitors responses also showed that Science for children gallery, Children science park, 3D show and Taramandal were most liked about programmes by the school students and the common visitors both. But only 3 percent of the sample school student visitors ever participated in the Science Quiz Programme. The percentage of participation of sample school students was less than one percent  in other occasional programmes of NSC. Responses of the sample visitors regarding most liked about galleries and visit to the Cyberskool are similar to  the view of the NSC director’s opinion on computer based programmes.

According to the director and the curators  initially NSC programmes were not  communicated and presented effectively. The old programmes were modernized and new programmes were developed and added to the Centre. Outside experts are invited for science lecture  programmes.

The NSC also organizes occasional programmes for school teachers. As per responses received from the Director of the NSC, in their school programmes they have a teacher training programme especially for science teachers where they try and bring out the capabilities and potentials of the teachers. In response to the questions on evaluation of  NSC exhibits and programmes, the director said that the exhibits had limited life say for 5 to 7 years. The feedback for changes in some exhibit/programme or discarding some exhibit/ programme was provided by the Educational Representatives of NSC who were on the floor and interacted with the visitors everyday. The NSC also tries to find out which exhibits are visited by what proportion of visitors through conducting regular surveys. This further helps the NSC to decide the liking of  the visitors in various exhibits. for organizing programmes and lectures for children. As we have come to know that the NSC is continuously working for improvement in existing programmes and making innovative effort to develop new programmes.