Muktangan Vidnyan Shodhika (MVS)

Muktangan Science Exploratorium - Some initial ideas for its usage

by Prof. Jayant Narlikar


The building for the Muktangan Vidnyan Shodhika or the Muktangan Science Exploratorium was built from a donation received from Smt Sunitabai Deshpande, relict of the famous P.L. Deshpande (Pu La) and from a donation received from the Marathi NRI organization in the USA called Maharashtra Foundation. The purpose of the donation by Smt Sunitabai was that the money should be employed towards bringing science to the schoolchildren in an attractive manner.

Thus the planning of the building was intimately related to the purpose it was to be put to and the objects within and outside the building. Now that the building is coming towards completion, the attention has to focus on what it should contain and what its immediate environment should be like.

For the purposes of this document, the typical target student will be in the age range 13-17, i.e., from standards VII to XII. It is on this age group that IUCAA's schoolchildren's programme has largely concentrated. Languages for communication will normally be English, Marathi and Hindi. Although one could argue that the target group could be even younger, I feel with the limited resources that we have, we should concentrate on a more focussed target and the above age group will respond better to our efforts. Certainly a career choice is made after Std XII and the five years preceding that stage are vital in bringing the excitement of science to the student.

The Layout

The halls in the building have been designed to serve the following purposes:

An auditorium where the schoolchildren can be given lectures/ demonstrations/ briefings, etc; preferably in small groups. These can be projection of slides, films, power-point presentations, of which a stock will be available in the Library.

A Library-cum-computer centre where reading books or making interesting computer programmes will be encouraged. Electronic library with CDs will also be built up, as mentioned in a.

A laboratory with interesting pre-set experiments as well as possibilities for children to design their own experiments. Initially the laboratory may be physics oriented with optics as the major component. A roof-top telescope will be used for night sky viewing.

Provision has also been made for space for housing its associated instrumentation. The outside is a natural extension of the Exploratorium, since the MVS is located inside IUCAA's Science Park. The North Side of the park is well equipped; now efforts must be made to equip the South Side also. Already a lot of thinking has gone into the matter and we need to push the NCSM to complete the planned exhibits. The reception area of the MVS can then serve as the entry point for the Science Park.

For example, when school children come for their Saturday lectures, they may be asked to report to the reception area first and may enter the auditorium through the side entrance from the southern part of the Science Park. The summer programme may also start here with the usual briefing given in the lecture room. Children may be encouraged to use the library to sit down and work on their summer project.

When smaller groups from the general public, schools from outside Pune, etc., come to see IUCAA, they may be shown the movie Spaces and Interactions, the IUCAA Story in the lecture room of the MVS. This, in addition to the introduction to IUCAA given by the person from IUCAA receiving the group.


The Muktangan may invite children to be members individually. The membership may entitle them to use the library, the computers and the laboratory. This should be reserved for those kids who are especially interested in having a continuing interaction with IUCAA. The members may also be encouraged to have e-mail question answers with the staff of IUCAA, especially those connected with the MVS, like the POP-Committee.

IUCAA on its side may find the membership a way of keeping in touch with the children so that their progress and interaction with S&T can be monitored.

School Teachers

An important target group that we should not miss out is that of teachers of science and mathematics in schools. Here we may even consider primary school teachers, since it is they who first introduce the child to science and maths. Some dedicated teachers could be encouraged to become members of the MVS and regular programmes on new teaching methods or scientific toys' could be introduced to them, as well as good textbooks.

Science Day Activities

The MVS may serve as the nucleus for activities on the National Science Day, although it will be good to have the kids moving in the main campus also. However, the MVS may think of having some continuing interaction with schools that peaks on the Science Day, such as preparing for an exhibition of models, which had been tried earlier once.

The part of the Science Day directed at the general public may also use the MVS as the entry point, where the reception keeps a record of the visitors coming in. Additionally it would be good for the MVS building to be used for displays of various kinds on that day.

The Name of the Building

To underscore the Pu-La connection, a possible name for the building is Pulastya, one of the stars of the Saptarshi group.