Siddharthnagar government school set up space lab as part of ISRO project; it changed students’ lives

India’s first rural space lab has come up as part of ISRO’s ‘Space Tutor Programme’ in a UP government school in Siddharthnagar.

Composite Upper Primary School in Hasudi Ausanpur village of Bhanwapur block, Siddharthnagar, Uttar Pradesh. (Image: Special Arrangement)Composite Upper Primary School in Hasudi Ausanpur village of Bhanwapur block, Siddharthnagar, Uttar Pradesh. (Image: Special Arrangement)

Sanjay | February 23, 2024 | 09:54 AM IST

NEW DELHI: A government school in Uttar Pradesh’s Siddharthnagar district is helping its students make their dream of becoming space scientists and aerospace engineers a reality by setting up India’s first rural space laboratory. Students studying in the Composite Upper Primary School (Classes 1 to 8) in Hasudi Ausanpur village of Bhanwapur block now have telescopes to “reach for the stars”.

The students are learning about emerging technologies and new space innovations in the ‘Vikram Sarabhai Space Lab’ developed by the Vyomika Space Academy. The lab is part of Indian Space Research Organisation’s (ISRO) ‘Space Tutor Programme’.

Avantika Gupta, a Class 8, said, “Earlier, we were not aware about space and the technologies related to it. We only had books to learn new things from. But now, we know about drones, satellites and rockets because of the space lab. We learn how satellite sensors work and how rockets help in launching satellites.” She wants to become a space scientist.

In line with the National Education Policy (NEP) 2020 which calls for development of scientific temperament through education, students of this school are getting practical knowledge of how the solar system works. Winners of space and astronomy quizzes are participating in science festivals and visiting ISRO centres.

The school has 274 students and eight teachers. It was a primary school since its inception in 1986 and was expanded to accommodate Classes 6 to 9 in 2005.

Also read Uttar Pradesh: Astronomy labs transform 105 Bulandshahr schools, foster ‘community learning’

ISRO project, space lab

The process of setting up the space lab started in January 2022 and it was launched on November 14, 2022.

Dileep Tripathi, the village head, initiated the process when the Bal Sarpanch (head of children’s parliament), Shriyat, relayed to him the students’ demand for better school infrastructure. He was also apprised of their growing curiosity about space and astronomy. Bal panchayat comprises children aged between 13 and 18 and provides a platform to highlight issues affecting them.

After gathering information from the ISRO website, Tripathi approached aerospace engineer Govind Yadav and the Vyomika Space Academy CEO in August, 2022.

For its Space Tutor Programme, ISRO collaborates with non-profits and educational institutions which are purely engaged in science, technology, engineering and mathematics (STEM) education. About 96 NGOs and institutes, including the Ghaziabad-based Vyomika Space Academy, have partnered with ISRO.

Yadav was “a bit hesitant” to set up a space lab in a government school of Uttar Pradesh as he had “seen such schools struggle with basic facilities like functioning toilets”. So, Tripathi requested Yadav to visit.

“We organised a quiz for Classes 6-8 students in the school in October 2023. We were so impressed by their performance that we decided to set up the lab within a month. We have full support from the district administration and are working to set up such labs in every block of Siddharthnagar,” Yadav said.

On inauguration day, TN Suresh Kumar, a retired senior scientist of ISRO, visited the school.

Of the school’s 3,000 square-metre area, the lab occupies two rooms, said Manoj Kumar Varun, assistant teacher and in-charge principal. “One room has rocket models and telescopes and the other, facilities for online classes. Our space lab houses models of all the satellites launched by ISRO since 1980 and those which are to be launched by 2030,” he said.

The school also held India’s largest rural space education exhibition in 2022, recording a gathering of over 10,000 students from 741 Siddharthnagar government schools.

How it functions

Under the ISRO programme, NGOs and educational institutions follow its curriculum and plan activities based on content available on the Antriksh Jigyasa (Space Curiosity) portal. Launched in November 2022, it provides online courses on space science, technology and their applications. The Indian space agency provides digital study material to their space tutors.

“Our labs work on three technology pillars – space science and technology, drone technology, and automation. Under space science and technology, we provide knowledge about ISRO rockets, satellites and their components and encourage them to indulge in lunar observation and solar observation through telescopes. Under drone technology, we provide drone training and inform students about its importance and applications. Under automation, we teach students about emerging technologies like 3D printing, robotics and artificial intelligence. We also provide tools and accessories to students to create their own projects,” Yadav said.

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Vyomika Space Academy follows a hybrid model of teaching and learning in the space labs. “We conduct four online sessions in which ISRO scientists and our space communicators interact with students. We conduct four physical training sessions (one in every three months) in which two to three of our team members provide training to teachers and students,” Yadav said.

Vyomika Space Academy has established 40 space labs in Uttar Pradesh and 32 in other eight states and union territories, including Bihar, Rajasthan, Odisha, Himachal Pradesh, Maharashtra, Jammu and Kashmir, Madhya Pradesh and Punjab. Another 86 space labs are in the pipeline.

“We are now working towards setting up space labs at government schools in Arunachal Pradesh and Chhattisgarh,” Yadav said.

After setting up the lab, Vyomika Space Academy organises industrial exposure visits for students to a research and development centre of ISRO. Students of the Hasuri Ausanpur school visited the Space Applications Centre (SAC) in Ahmedabad in 2022.

Dreams and opportunities

The space lab has opened up opportunities for government-school students to participate in science competitions, visiting ISRO centres, and interact with space scientists. “We are now learning how to fly drones. We get to interact with ISRO scientists and watch the moon through a telescope. These things make me believe that I, too, can become a space scientist,” said Abhilasha, in Class 8.

up government, space lab, astronomy lab, isro, science education, science courses, up gov in job, astronomy, nep 2020, national education policy 2020, upper primary, siddharthnagar school, siddharthnagar school news, siddharthnagar schools name,  siddharth nagar school news today, siddharth nagar science, up government schools, siddharthnagar space lab, hasudi ausanpur village, hasudi ausanpur village address, space village, first rural space labAbhilasha, a Class 8 student at Composite Upper Primary School, Hasudi Ausanpur. (Image: Special Arrangement)

“Fascinated” by models of rockets and launchers such as Geostationary Satellite Launch Vehicle (GSLV), the Polar Satellite Launch Vehicle (PSLV), Gaganyaan, Reusable Launch Vehicle –Technology Demonstrator (RLV-TD), Deepak Yadav of Class 8 said, “Our teachers have explained how rockets and launchers work. And now I want to become a rocket engineer.”

Hasuri Ausanpur students won the best rural project award during the Student Science Village Competition at the India International Science Festival in Bhopal in 2023. ISRO chairman S Somnath and ISRO Capacity Building and Public Outreach (CBPO) director Sudheer Kumar had also interacted with students there.

“Before the space lab, students used to think that drones are used only during weddings. Now, they know drones are also used in agricultural work, rescue and relief operations, and by armed forces,” he said.

Demand for admission

The Composite Upper Primary School is attracting students from private schools and nearby villages and the lab is a key draw. But the lack of space is preventing expansion.

Manoj Kumar, an assistant teacher, was posted in a Government Primary School in Khesraha block of the district and his children used to study in a private school. “I got my transfer to this school in 2018 and enrolled my daughters here as well. My elder daughter Abhilasha is studying in Class 8, Aaradhya in Class 6, and Vibha in Class 3. I feel blessed to be teaching at a school which is providing quality education free of cost, unlike most government schools,” he said.

Varun, the school’s in-charge principal, said there are two sections of Class 6 due to the high number of students. “We are running a class in the verandah. We get requests for admission from nearby villages as well but we do not have the land for expansion,” he said.

Also read ISRO chief encourages students to become astronauts

Future plans

Hasudi Ausanpur village is spread across 650 acres and is barely 50 km from the Nepal border and 25 km from Siddharthnagar district headquarters. The village, in Domariyaganj tehsil, is home to just 1,024 people, according to the 2011 Census.

Under the leadership of its 44-year-old village head Tripathi, Hasudi Ausanpur has won seven national and two state awards in the past few years. The village is equipped with wi-fi, has a hi-tech panchayat building, and CCTV cameras. Its streets are lit by solar-powered lights.

Teachers and students give all the credit to their village head. Tripathi, who holds postgraduate degrees in medieval history and sociology from Deen Dayal Upadhyaya Gorakhpur University, has been Hasudi Ausanpur head since 2015. His next focus is to make his panchayat India’s second most ‘carbon-neutral panchayat’ after Jammu’s Palli Gram.

“The Indian Institute of Technology – Banaras Hindu University (IIT-BHU) has adopted our village [for] this initiative, a part of the education ministry’s Unnat Bharat Abhiyaan (UBA),” he said. “We want to leave a carbon-neutral panchayat – net zero carbon dioxide emission – for our future generations.”

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