Published: 01st July 2020
Starry, STEM-y night: How this Vizag start-up has used the lockdown to take science workshops to kids
Wish you understood more in your Science classes back in school? Starry Stories based in Vizag awakens the inquisitive soul of students and helps them understand concepts through simple experiments.
The creative social enterprise Starry Stories has been growing from strength to strength since its inception. Started in January 2017 and based out of Visakhapatnam, they conducted two workshops in their first year, another two in their second year and in 2019, they conducted one to two workshops every month. What a leap! Though the pandemic has brought them to a screeching halt, they are confident that they will be able to pick up right where they left off. But what are these workshops and why are we excited about them? Targetted at students, these workshops take them through a whole range of Science activities that ensure that the concepts they learn via books are seared into their memory. For example, the balloon on nails demonstration helps them understand pressure distribution, while making paper planes helps them understand centre of mass and pressure in an aircraft.
Working rocket model | (Pic: Starry Stories)
"I settled on the name Starry Stories because when one gazes upon a star, they look like dots to us but there is so much about their origin that we don't know. Similarly, every aspect of nature has a story behind it and we want students to understand these backstories," says Mohan Mylapalli, the co-founder. Mohan used to teach at a low-income school while pursuing his Master's in Remote Sensing Technology from Andhra University and has forever been curious about the practical aspects of things. Starry Stories’ one-day sessions are for classes V to X and they deliberately use simple experiments rather than complicated electronics or equipment to ensure that students understand the principles and not just the working. "These experiments are also attention-grabbing and pique the curiosity of students," explains the 25-year-old.
They are also developing e-learning content for students from classes V to XII in the area of Physics, Math, Biology and Geography. The content is developed with the help of postgrads or PhD holders
They have a long list of about 50 demonstrative experiments and about 20 to 30 hands-on STEM-based activities too. They took their workshops to about 20 schools last year including five Kasturba Gandhi Balika Vidyalayas (KGBVs), seven Greater Visakhapatnam Municipal Corporation (GVMC) high schools and low-income private schools like Sri Sampath Vidyaniketan E-Techno School. "We also have the help of five to six volunteers while conducting these workshops," says Mohan who has been working as a Project Assistant at IIT Gandhinagar. They have also been in talks with schools to purchase their experiments without the workshops too.
Hands-on activity | (Pic: Starry Stories)
Since the lockdown was declared, Starry Stories have gone online and are almost ready to conduct free activity-based Science and Math workshops, we are told. So, will you be joining them?
Some of their experiments
Atmospheric pressure experiment | (Pic: Starry Stories)
Shape of airplane wings | (Pic: Starry Stories)
Levitating pen stand | (Pic: Starry Stories)
Vortex rings | (Pic: Starry Stories)
For more on them, check out starrystories.com