Exhibiting biodiversity and climate change, the Science Express train travelling across the Indian subcontinent is attracting a large number of school & college students, and aims to create awareness on biodiversity of India, climate change, conservation and related issues.
Science Express is an innovative mobile exhibition mounted on a specially designed 16 coach AC train, travelling across India since October 2007. After the successful tour across India in four phases, this iconic train is now running as ‘Science Express – Biodiversity Special (SEBS)’ – a unique collaborative initiative of Department of Science & Technology (DST) and Ministry of Environment & Forests (MoEF), Government of India (GoI). It was flagged off on 5 June 2012, World Environment Day, from Delhi Safdarjung by Hon’ble Chief Minister of Delhi and Hon’ble Minister of Environment & Forests, GoI.
Since its launch in October 2007, the Science Express exhibition train has travelled over 80,000 km across the country. With over 80 lakh (8.0 million) visitors at its 254 halts and 930 exhibition days till date, Science Express is the largest, longest and most visited mobile science exhibition in India and has created several records. In the current phase, in just last four months, since 5 June 2012, it has been visited by over 16 .50 lakh (1.65 million) people, mostly students.
The current decade (2011-2020) has been declared as the United Nations Decade on Biodiversity and United Nations Decade for Deserts and the Fight against Desertification. With India hosting the eleventh meeting of the Conference of Parties (COP 11) to the UN Convention on Biological Diversity (CBD) in Hyderabad, it is an opportune time to showcase to the world the wide array of biodiversity in India and the conservation measures adopted thereof. The SEBS, therefore, primarily addresses the theme ‘Biodiversity’.
The state-of-the-art exhibition aboard the SEBS aims to create awareness on biodiversity of India, climate change, and similar issues among various sections of the society, especially the students. The exhibition, thus, targets a wide range of audience including school and college students as well as teachers.
In its ongoing phase from 5 June 2012 to 13 January 2013, SEBS is scheduled to travel to around 57 locations across India. At each location, it usually halts for 3-4 days during which the exhibition remains open for visitors. SEBS was scheduled to halt at Secunderabad from 9 to 19 October 2012 to coincide with the COP 11 meeting. The delegates and dignitaries from over 180 countries participating in this meeting had the opportunity to visit the exhibition and experience the rich biodiversity of India.
Of the 16 coaches of the SEBS, eight supported by MoEF, are solely dedicated to showcasing the myriad Biodiversity spread across the bio-geographical zones of India. These include Trans-Himalaya & the Himalayas, the Gangetic Plain, North East India, the Desert & Semi-Arid Zone, the Western Ghats, the Deccan Peninsula, the Coasts & Islands. The exhibition also covers various other facets like marine, coastal, forest, microbial, agro-biodiversity, and their linkage with livelihoods besides challenges of conservation.
In rest of the rake, one coach has an exhibition on Climate Change, Biodiversity & Water, supported by HSBC while more exhibits on Climate Change, developed and supported by Swiss Embassy and Nestle, have been put up in another coach. Yet another coach presents an exhibition on Energy Conservation, supported by PCRA while the Legacy of Science Express, showcasing the most popular exhibits from the previous four phases is displayed in one coach.
Further, the popular VASCSC Joy of Science (JOS) Lab, now supported by Indus Towers, is put up in a dedicated coach. In this hands-on lab, students can perform various experiments and activities to understand concepts in biodiversity, climate change, environment, science and mathematics in an interesting manner. A Discussion Centre-cum-Training Facility is provided in the same coach for capacity building of teachers in different aspects of environment, science and mathematics.
At each halt of SEBS, activities are planned in advance to engage visitors across different ages to reinforce the message of SEBS and these include the exciting and much sought-after Outreach Programme conducted in local schools / institutions along with interesting activities on the railway platforms. Specific outreach activities are also conducted in local schools and institutions associated with the MoEF’s National Environment Awareness Programme (NEAC) and National Green Corps (NGC). In addition, informative take-away material is made available for wider distribution amongst schools and visitors.
The exhibition reflects the wisdom and the hard-work of the knowledge partners who have contributed to bring forth this exhibition. MoEF has partnered with the DST for putting up the exhibition on biodiversity. Centre for Environment Education (CEE), Ahmedabad, along with the knowledge partners and Vikram A Sarabhai Community Science Centre (VASCSC), Ahmedabad, have developed and put up this unique exhibition-on-wheels. HSBC, Swiss Embassy, Nestle, PCRA and Indus Towers have supported part of the exhibitions and complementary activities.
VASCSC has been entrusted by DST with the task of coordinating the SEBS across India. VASCSC’s team of well-qualified, trained and highly motivated science communicators travelling with the train explain and interpret the exhibition, answers queries, facilitate the visitors and conduct complementary activities.
The exhibition is open to all but primarily targets students and teachers. More information is available on the website www.sciencexpress.in.
Source: Science Express.