Museum Voices from India: Why I Want to Be a Science Museum Professional  

 

L to R: Sakil, Sourav, Arnab, Moumita, Itisha

L to R: Sakil, Sourav, Arnab, Moumita, Itisha

I want to “be a part of place that doesn’t just spread knowledge

 but pulls the string of science cord in everyone.”  Itisha

Once again my colleague Karen Lee of the Smithsonian’s National Museum of American History and I are teaching in the MT in Science Communication program for the National Council of Science Museums (NCSM) in Kolkata, India. The program provides an MT  in Museum Studies to its participants. As in previous years I’ve asked students to respond to one of two questions, and have told them their responses will be posted on this blog. The questions are: Why do you want to be a science museum professional? or What do you think are Indian museums’ responsibilities to their communities?

Below are the responses of the students who chose the first question. I’ll be publishing the answers to the second question in my next posting. We have 11 students total, a mix of people already employed in one of NCSM’s 26 museums across India, and Museum Fellows who are in training at various NSCM institutions.  They are a great group of students, enthusiastic and hard working. As always Karen and I learn so much in working with them.

 

Sakil Amed, Museum Fellow at Birla Industrial and Technological Museum, Kolkata

When I was in class ten standard I had interest in science. Then in class twelve standard I chose science subject. I am from a little village in Kolkata. At my village I have seen many children left out of study for economic reason. Our country’s development depends lots on our children’s education. I always help the poor children by giving my book within my capability. I always try to donate something for the society. When I passed my twelve class then I chose a career on mechanical engineering. When I passed out my B.tech I thought I should join some big company to earn lot of money. Then I decided go for higher degree.

I saw the advertisement for MS course provided by NCSM .Before getting admission to the MS I had no idea about it. Regarding the MS course I came to know about science museum. What a museum professional can do. By this profession I can donate something to the society. This is such a noble job by which I can apply my creative and innovative ideas. Simply to educate our society in non formal way we establish museums. One story I want to share: in mobile science exhibit which goes to rural areas, one of the boys got motivated and he became a scientist after seeing one of the exhibits, “WATER MAGIC TAP.” Now through this profession I can do something for the society. I want to serve poorer children. When one child will be motivated by my exhibit, that day I will be happiest person in the world because My Job is done.

Sourav Kr. Bhoumik,  MS Fellow at Science City, Kolkata

The traditional role of museums is to collect objects and materials of cultural, religious and historical importance, preserve them, research into them and present them to the public for the purpose of education and enjoyment. Science museums play an important role in

public education and awareness.  They may obtain, research, and communicate for the aim of study, education and enjoyment. They represent science in front of common people in a very simple and exciting way. In our country millions of people are in the darkness of illiteracy.

As a science museum professional my goal will be to remove all those barriers and turn them into light of wisdom. Here I have the opportunity to do something different for the science which can help people to learn science easily. The exhibits of the science museum present the unknown things about science in a very interesting way so that people can feel the science, they can learn science, discover the new face of the science. Here, I have the opportunity to serve the people as well as our country.

Arnab Chatterjee, Curator of Electronics and Computers, Nehru Science Centre, Mumbai

Why did I decide to be a Science Centre Professional? As indicated in my profile, I started my career as an engineer and being ever inclined towards the subject of Electronics, it was literally a pleasure for me to join a nationalized research and development laboratory to plunge into development of high end communication systems targeted for national safety and security. However, it was truly shocking for me to discover people immersed into irrational beliefs and malpractices in-spite of being right at the helm of affairs for cultivation of science. It was clear that the cause is not just educational but societal and cultural as well. Hence, when I had an opportunity to join the Council to inculcate scientific attitude among the masses to make them rethink, believe and behave logically, it was more of a responsibility than a job to me.

Moreover, an exposure to designing and developing interactive/immersive exhibits encouraged me to rediscover and elevate my everlasting passion of working in the field of electronics engineering through a different dimension. And now, when social networking has become more of a mandate than a leisurely pass time, when hand held devices ask for our attention not for an incoming call but for a popping message from What’s app or Twitter, challenges are many folded to create a culture of science and rational behavior among the people in general, as communication is unlimited. It would absolutely positively make our mission a success when people will no longer stop their vehicle at the middle of a road on a cat’s crossing.

Itisha Choudhury,  MS Fellow, National Council of Science Museums, Kolkata

Finding a career in accordance to your interest and ability is far more difficult than finding a job in accordance to your degree.  Every individual dreams to do a job that is more like a hobby than just a task report of targets. I am also one of them who got a job in a company due to my academic abilities rather than my talents. But the main question was a self-evaluation of what my interests are and what interests can be supported by my talent. I might have been an asset to my company’s profit but made no difference to any one’s life, except myself, in the form of salary and social status. The dream “to touch many lives of my own society and make a better difference to it” was diluted due to handsome corporate salary. Right from my school days, Museums always fascinated me, they were like touchable and connectable contents of an encyclopaedia. But I had no idea of workability or applicability of myself in it!

Thanks to this MS course, I was able to see the inside and outside of museology:

  •  How a single act of curators can help in inducing scientific temperament in a child or an individual.
  • The creativity of projecting the knowledge in an attractive and understandable form.
  •  Proving a neutral venue for debatable topics and dialogues and indirectly directing them for the betterment of my society.
  •  To support the proverb “I do and I understand” with technology and hands on/minds on exhibits and much more….

Yes, I want to do all of the above and utilize the last drop of my talent and creativity in museums fulfilling the dream of touching many  lives  and  nurturing life-long learning  by using  my engineering and creativity background and be a part of place that doesn’t just spread knowledge but pulls the string of science cord in everyone.

 

Moumita Halder, MS Fellow, National Council of Science Museums, Kolkata

When I was a child there was so many times I met with weird things. Though my parents tried, there was numerous people who lacked scientific thinking. In India there is always a section who do things just because society say so. So I had to fight with logic and faith. Though now it is an easy choice which option to choose but back then I was very much confused. By default humans always have tendencies to accept the easy answers. Back then there was not so much awareness about science. But as I was growing up I realized a science education is very important in India.

Till now there are many people who do the right thing but not knowing the reason.  I believe that with proper logic they can achieve much more. There are also very bad social practices in India that cannot be stopped without science. If I will ever get the chance in science museums I will try to focus on the facts that are needed but not known to people. I don’t want only to spread information but create awareness. More than that I always wanted to do something that somehow will help society. When people come to the museum and learn something it makes me feel great. In museums we can do so many different things, and it is changing every day. It is a perfect place to work and also see the effect of the work on the people.

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