Published: 23rd May 2019
Why Pallabi Mohapatra's love for nature is extremely infectious
Pallabi Mohapatro has pursued an MSc in Environmental Biology and she has completed her BEd too. She has vast experience in teaching Biology at various institutes and schools
In 2015, Pallabi Mohapatro, who back then was a teacher at one of the Delhi Public Schools of Odisha, discovered how a corn cob, when done away with the corn and made hollow, can filter dirty water which is poured through it. And this wasn't all, water heavily induced with chemicals like lead and cadmium could also be cleaned out to a significant extent. All this was done with the help of CSIR and some of her students. Hence, she and her students were invited to the famed Google Science Fair in California and they even received the Community Impact Award for it. In 2016, at Intel's Initiative for Research and Innovation in Science, she and her team made a list of those plants which keep the environment cool, which were chosen from a vast variety of species based on 26 parameters and were recognised for it.
In 2017, when she was teaching at Kalinga Institute of Social Sciences (KISS), she participated in the National Children's Science Congress and was recognised there too for presenting Gangei, a herb that can help cure many diseases. Last year, she and two of her students were presented with the Ignite Awards by the former president Pranab Mukherjee. So the obvious question to ask is, what is she up to this year? The 43-year-old teacher who has spent a little less than two decades in the education field, humbly says, "It's all the good wishes of people." We reckon a solid dose of hard work contributed too!
She encourages children to plant saplings and then builds ownership by making one or two students responsible for one sapling each
Born to parents who were teachers, Pallabi always knew that she wanted to be a teacher too -- this was her passion. She pursued her MPhil from Berhampur University and after teaching Botany in multiple institutes, she is now a lecturer and Vice-Principal at Buxi Jagabandhu English Medium School in Bhubaneswar. Though she has already ticked the box of achievement this year by presenting one of her papers on Innovation in teaching Science to School Children at a conference hosted by NCERT in Bhopal, she has another challenge staring at her--the destruction that the mighty Cyclone Fani caused. "We managed to save our medicinal garden by moving all the 22 species of potted plants indoors before the cyclone made landfall, but lots of trees we planted have been uprooted," says the teacher with a green heart. Known to have written not just articles for magazines on the environment, but also short skits and poems for children to perform along with taking upon the mammoth task of teaching environmental studies in a more contemporary and sensitive way, she is planning a mass plantation drive.
Planting together: Mohapatro along with students planting a sapling | (Pic: Pallabi Mohapatro)
"The sad part is that urban children can't even identify plants like rice and wheat. I keep telling them that, 'One day, the only animals you will be able to see in the zoo are crows'," says Mohapatro with despair. She has not only installed a bird feeder at the school, but also planted a few rice and wheat varieties to help children identify them. "It is the role of a teacher to make environmental studies interesting and relatable to a student," concludes the teacher with a purpose.
For more on her, click on facebook.com/pallabi.