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Innovative astro labs to foster curiosity among students

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SHILLONG, Feb 1: In a first of its kind initiative in the state, the East Jaintia Hills administration has established three astronomy labs in as many schools in the district.
The facilities, established at Ambrose Memorial School in Khliehriat, Latyrke Secondary School and Divine Words Secondary School at Lumshnong, were inaugurated by Revenue and Disaster Management Minister Kyrmen Shylla, who is also the local MLA, on Thursday.
Each lab entailed a cost of Rs 4.15 lakh. Sponsored by the North East Transmission Company Ltd under its CSR initiatives, these labs will act as a catalyst in increasing interest among students in astronomy and science in general.
The labs are equipped with a comprehensive array of 70 specialised instruments, out of which 42 are working models. Through these, students can conduct 54 hands-on experiments of biology, physics and chemistry. Aligned with the principles of STEM (science, technology, engineering and mathematics), the state-of-the-art facilities offer an immersive learning experience.
The labs encompass a diverse range of equipment, from solar and lunar eclipse models for understanding celestial events to a colossal planisphere facilitating the exploration of the night sky and constellations. A 6-inch Dobsonian telescope will help students observe 5 planets in the solar system, eclipses and the sun’s sunspots. Furthermore, the labs feature anatomical models of human body parts, providing students with the opportunity to dissect and comprehend the intricate functions of the human anatomy.
These meticulously crafted models serve as invaluable tools for in-depth exploration and hands-on learning, enhancing students’ understanding of the complex biological systems that underpin the study of life sciences.
Beyond their physical resources, the labs delve into experiments illuminating concepts such as light, Newton’s laws of motion and various principles of physics, enhancing students’ understanding across multiple disciplines.
Speaking to The Shillong Times, East Jaintia Hills Deputy Commissioner Abhilash Baranwal said the district administration took a transformative initiative to establish the three cutting-edge astronomy labs.
He said the administration partnered with Astroscape, a Delhi-based start-up, to bring these labs to fruition. He said the initiative shows a commitment to efficiency and excellence in project execution, with all three labs completed within a remarkable one-week timeframe.
Baranwal further said the initiative underscores the district’s dedication to providing a conducive and advanced educational environment, fostering scientific curiosity and exploration among its students.
Meanwhile, he said a room, where an astronomy lab will be established, has to be renovated with certain specifications like wall putty, window-free walls, ceiling lights etc.
He said a lab can be set up in 2 days once the room is ready and thereafter, one day is required for the training of faculty members. He said a WhatsApp group is created to provide remote assistance whenever required.

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