Published: 24th July 2018
How Sachin Bahmba has been helping Indian kids fall in love with Astronomy and outer space for two decades
Sachin Bahmba, the founder of Space Foundation elaborates on the need to incorporate Astronomy in the Indian curriculum and how the organisation has been promoting a scientific temperament
It all began when Sachin Bahmba, at the tender young age of 13, got to see the moon for the first time through a telescope — one that he had made from scratch. As he narrates this, he pauses and asks, "Have you ever seen the moon through a telescope?" When they replied to the negative, he continues, "Well, everyone has to look at the moon at least once in their lives and then you will never look at the sky the same way," says Sachin, who is the Chairman and Managing Director of the Space Foundation.
On cloud nine: Sunita Williams being felicitated by Sachin Bahmba
For Sachin, that one gaze changed the course of his life, "Back then, teachers used to teach us about telescopes and planets, but we had never seen a telescope before or never knew what it was like to observe the stars. Our universe is like a free laboratory and they were robbing us of a great opportunity. So, with the telescope I made, I ensured that all the students in my school got to see the moon," recollects Sachin.
Space Foundation, established by Sachin in 2001, aims to promote astronomy and space science among the masses and has been on a mission to inculcate Astronomy as a subject in curricula across schools in India, "We are all fascinated by the sky and through promoting scientific temperament, especially among children, we want to remove the binaries of caste, creed, and race and propagate reason and science-based behavior in people," explains Sachin.
Explore outdoor: Astro Tourism is another initiative by Sachin Bahmba where students are taken on a field trip. As part of the same, several students have visited Kennedy Space Centre in Florida
Through their multiple flagship initiatives like Astroport, Astro Tourism and Leo Planetaria, the foundation has been providing hands-on training to children in specific lessons in Astronomy - such as remote sensing, rocket flying, making satellites and asteroid spotting, to name a few, "With us, students are taught to do engaging activities and we impart nuanced aspects of astronomy. Through our activities, children as young as 11 can calculate the circumference of the Earth using trigonometry. Some of our students have even spotted close to 68 asteroids," Sachin says, listing some of their achievements.
A closer look: Students witnessing the solar eclipse
However, their most successful initiative continues to be 'Universe in the School', where the foundation has set up astronomy clubs in schools across India. Close to 400 teachers from Space Foundation have helped almost 3-4 lakh students get a taste of Astronomy over the years, "In the clubs, we have 14- 15 sessions in school and for some sessions, we take them on a night observation. Then, we have 72 workshops on various concepts of astronomy and space which are about two hours long," elaborates Sachin about some of their club activities.
As for their future plans, Space Foundation hopes to open Astroports in every state in India, "Astroport is an Astronomy and space experience centre where people can look through a telescope, make one and even design the food or rover for an astronomer. By 2019, we will have our Astroports in each state and through this, we hope to help more children find their love for Astronomy," Sachin concludes.