When was the last time you had a power cut in your locality? Have you tried to analyse how you can save electricity? Shreyashi Dasgupta meets a young group that's working towards conserving electricity
Electricity is an essential part of our daily lives and yet power cuts and water crises are a common phenomenon for people residing in Dadhare village, Thane district. Annoyed with this everyday problem three students, Bhushan Bhoir, Bhushan Patare and Viraj Thakare, decided to find a solution to this nuisance and save electricity in the bargain. Their research project on the use of efficient lamps to save energy was selected at the national level at the 17th National Children's Science Congress held at Ahmedabad.
To understand the project better we spoke to Pralhad Kathole, teacher and guide for this project. Says he, "The theme for the contest was 'Planet Earth - Our Home, Explore, Care and Share'. I encouraged students to find a problem that existed in their surroundings and thus they came up with the concept of saving electricity."
Bhushan Bhoir, who was selected as the group leader, chips in explaining the concept and the work put into the project. He says, "We did six months of research with the help of our teacher and volunteers from an NGO called QUEST. We met up with students before and after school for this research. The village has a population of 178 people living in 37 households. We met up with the families to know how much electricity they used, what they used it for and how they managed without electricity."
Bhushan Patare adds, "The study revealed that people used electricity mainly for lighting and most people used incandescent lamps, compact fluorescent lights (CFLs) or energy saving lights and tubelights. After our investigation we found out that if a 100W incandescent lamp is replaced by a 15W CFL it saves a lot of electricity. Since one unit of electricity costs Rs 2.37, houses will save Rs 3,182.40 in 30 days."
The students also asked people how they manage on days when there is no electricity. Viraj Thakare says, "When there is no electricity, people use oil lamps. Through a detailed study of oil lamps, we found out that using a wick made of old cotton cloth reduces the consumption of kerosene. We thus distributed around 120 old cotton cloth wicks in each family." And what was the reaction of the people residing in the village? Viraj says, "Initially, none of the residents paid any attention, but they slowly applied our ideas and saw the difference."
The trio feels that we have abused our natural resources and will be faced with dire consequences. That day is not far away and thus every individual needs to contribute towards solving this problem in some way or the other. Bhushan Bhoir says, "This initiative will be taken to other villages and we would like to spread the message of using solar lamps too. We are currently working on the use of LED lamps for energy conservation. We would also like to examine the effects of the structure of the house and colour of walls on the amount of light generated within the house, which can save energy."
The NGO QUEST has helped the trio out a great deal in envisaging and following through with the project. Atul Kulkarni, President of QUEST says, "To observe one's surroundings, to spot the problems and to solve them with a scientific approach is a neglected aspect of science education. Considering the infrastructure and facilities available to these students, the amazing outcome of their project has made all of us proud."
Nilesh Nimkar, Director of QUEST adds, "The students also conducted campaigns and arranged exhibitions of posters and comics on this subject in their village, which helped create mass appeal."
The project was presented at the local and regional level from where it was nominated to the state level. The trio presented their paper at Ahmedabad on December 27, 2009.
The 17th National Children's Science Congress was conducted from December 27 to 31, 2009 at Ahmedabad. This event is supported by the National Council for Science and Technology Communication (NCSTC) and the Department of Science and Technology, Government of India. It is a programme for students aged 10 to 17 years, from both formal and informal schools, who are designated as 'child scientists'. This competition provides a platform for budding scientists to think of a societal problem and its causes and then try to solve the same using a scientific approach. The programme encourages a sense of discovery by involving close and keen observation, raising pertinent questions, building models, predicting solutions on the basis of the model, trying out various possible alternatives and arriving at an optimum solution using experimentation, field work, research and innovative ideas. This year about 100 child scientists from various countries participated.