22nd National Children’s Science Congress (NCSC-2014) : The seeds of the programme of children’s science congress (CSC), in the way of an exercise to carry out small research activities at micro-level were planned in Madhya Pradesh by an NGO called Gwalior Science Center. It was later adopted by National Council for Science and Technology Communication (NCSTC), Department of Science & Technology (DST), Government of India for carrying out national level activities through NCSTC-Network (a network of Non-Government and Government organizations working in the field of science popularization) as national organizer.
It was a time when many of the country’s crusaders of science communication were experienced with massive science communication exercise of Bharat Jana BigyanJatha and Bharat Jana GyanBigyanJatha. It was felt that the large scale activities for developing science awareness among the masses are to be continued as regular activity, so, this programme was launched nationwide in 1993, under nomenclature National Children’s Science Congress (NCSC), with an expectation that it would generate scientific temperament among the teachers and students, and spread among the various stakeholders of the society. The programme of NCSC has been fruitfully conducted for the last 21 years.
Children’s Science Congress is targeted to spread the concept of the method of science among the children their project activities adopting the principle of learning through doing’. The mandate of participation is that, the children will carry out a project on a particular topic in relation to theme and sub-theme decided for the year. The study is to be carried out in the neighbourhood of the children where they live.
The exercise of project activities, as thumb rule, encourages the children to explore, think, serve and wonder. It is capable to imbibe the following temperament/quality/skill of the children:
Making comparison and contrasts,
Drawing conclusion and
Weather is the instantaneous state of the atmosphere, or sequence of states of the atmosphere with time, which can be defined as the condition of the atmosphere at any given time and place. Climate, on the other hand, is the average as well as variability of weather conditions prevailing in an area over a long period of time, known also as the Statistics of Weather. Precipitation, temperature, humidity, atmospheric pressure, and wind are the important elements of weather and climate. It is the result of the interaction of four basic physical elements- the Sun, the Earth’s atmosphere, the Earth itself, and natural landforms on the Earth’s surface. Weather and climate of a particular location are also governed by natural factors like geographical position (in terms of latitude, longitude and altitude), distribution of land and water, distance from water bodies, surface cover etc.
Weather and climate are the vital factors determining the nature, condition and pattern of natural resources (e.g. water, soil, flora, and fauna). Collective expressions of the state of temperature, humidity and precipitation within a year in different seasons as well as in long term basis determine the forms of water, soil-forming processes and create support systems for the floral growth, which in turn regulates faunal composition of a locality. These natural resource bases along with weather and climate determine the way of life of human being. Thus, the economic framework and cultural composition of a locality is also dependent on the weather and climate and hence, any significant change in these two key factors has a profound impact not only on natural resources but also on the entire biosphere.
Increased level of atmospheric carbon dioxide and other greenhouse gases have been identified as the key factor of global climate change, the most important global environmental challenge being faced by humanity today. As per IPCC Reports, 2013, on an average, temperature has increased by roughly 1.53°F (0.85ºC) from 1880 to 2012.
India’s weather and climate are mainly governed by her geographical location, surrounding boundary conditions (the Himalayas, the Indian Ocean, Arabian Sea and Bay of Bengal). Further, the variations in land and water distribution within the country, altitudinal differences, vegetation type and cover along with the variations of sunshine hours within the country due to its latitudinal and longitudinal extension are clubbed together to divide the country into six climatic zones and twelve agro-climatic zones differing from each other quite significantly. But these climatic and agro-climatic zones are facing serious problems of various kinds due to the impact of climatic/ weather anomalies. For more than one decade weather and climatic anomalies are taking place in all the agro-climatic regions of the country. Moreover, one major element of climatic control in the country, the Indian Monsoon, was found to be altering in terms of its onset, amount and distribution of rainfall across the country, which clearly indicates probable impacts on the country’s economy.
In this context, there is a need to have proper understanding of weather and climate and its changes, mainly oriented towards different aspects and attributes of weather and climate along with their implications on the natural ecosystem and on the livelihood of human beings. At the same time, focus on climate change combats, including mitigation and adaptation are also strongly recommended.
Sub-theme – I: Weather Around You
Weather is the immediate physical environmental situation we face in our daily life and has impact on our decisions related to food, clothing and overall lifestyle. But systematic approaches to understand weather are very rare in our lives. Therefore, systematic attempt to understand weather of a locality/area will be the main concern of this sub-theme. This will help the children to take more precise and pragmatic decisions in relation to weather related aspects. Such systematic studies can be carried out through methodological approaches of observation and measurement of weather attributes, analysis of collected information and results of measurement followed by forecasting and interpretation of findings and correlating the same with decision making context and processes.
Measuring weather attributes like temperature, daily sun shine hours, humidity, wind, precipitation, etc along with other elements like presence of gaseous components, suspended solid particles, comparison of the collected information with the available daily weather information from News Paper, TV /Radio weather bulletin and website of Indian Meteorological Department; time period based trend analysis and its relevance in local context. Children are encouraged to design and develop their own tools and instruments for measurement and analysis. However, some experimental and field based measurement of components must be there in such studies instead of simple information collection.
Sub-theme – II: Impact of Human Activities on Weather and Climate
Exponential growth of human population in the last two centuries has increased the pressure on environmental resources required for the survival and sustenance of human being. This has also influenced the weather conditions and climate locally and globally. The growth in agriculture, animal husbandry, fisheries, urbanisation, transportation, deforestation and industrialisation caused changes in land use and biogeochemical cycles. Similarly, exploration and utilisation of energy sources for the increasing demands of the growing society pumped in large quantities of greenhouse gases to the atmosphere causing global warming.
Understanding the process and importance of greenhouse effect, carbon dioxide and other green house gas cycling between earth and atmosphere are the key components of this subtheme. Moreover, it is also required to understand that; climate across the world has changed so rapidly that adaptation to this change is a big challenge for the biosphere. Children also need to realize the contribution of human activities like fossil fuel burning, deforestation etc towards these unexpected changes in climate. Further, they also need to be made aware of the results of this human induced climate change, such as weather disasters, disease spread, heat stress, drought, water shortage, crop yield decline, sea level rise, large scale migration and such other.
Study on green house gases and their sources, human activities releasing green house gases to atmosphere, study on natural calamities related to weather and climate and role of human activity in enhancing the same. They can also design and propose scientific and logistic alternatives to improve human life along with controlling or reducing negative impacts of human activities on climate.
Sub-theme – III:Weather, Climate and Ecosystems
Climatic parameters influence abiotic and biotic components of our environment. Elements like rainfall, temperature, wind and humidity have effect on the occurrence, abundance, seasonality and Phenology is the study of periodic plant and animal life cycle events and how these are influenced by seasonal and inter-annual variations in climate, as well as habitat factors (such as elevation).
Biotic components are the living things that shape an ecosystem. A biotic factor is any living component that affects another organism, including animals that consume the organism in question, and the living food that the organism consumes. Biotic factors include human influence.
Abiotic components, are non-living components of an organism’s environment, such as temperature, light, moisture, air currents, etc
behaviour of living organisms as well as quality of air, water and soil, thus governing various ecosystems either directly or indirectly. Variations in temperature, humidity and precipitation pattern may lead to changes in water quality, soil formation, floral growth and faunal composition of any ecosystem. In turn, biotic components also impart impact on microclimate of the same. On the other hand, macro scale climate variability can also result in disasters like floods, droughts, unprecedented rains, inconsistencies in seasonal temperature etc on various ecosystems.
Under this sub theme, we need to understand and observe the changes in weather parameters as well as the changes in biotic and abiotic parameters around us. This will enable us to study the effect of the weather/climate on ecosystems. Systematic observations, measurement and analysis of weather parameters and the biotic and abiotic elements make us understand effect of these parameters on the functioning of ecosystem. Response of biotic and abiotic components towards climatic elements, along with phonological study can be studied under this sub-theme.
Effect of weather parameters on abundance of flora and fauna and seasonality, movements, breeding, feeding and other behaviour patterns, behaviour of domesticated animals, seasonality of occurrence and flowering of plants, migration of birds, fishes and insects etc. Changes in pH, temperature, organic matter of soil and water with seasons, quality of air in terms of air pollutants can also be studied. Effect of light period, light intensity, atmospheric temperature, humidity and soil moisture on growth of plants, Stomata count as surrogate for the production of Oxygen, calculation of Carbon sequestration in different urban and rural gardens etc can be conducted by children as simple experiments.
Sub-theme – IV: Weather, Climate – Society and Culture
Weather and climate also determine our way of life in the form of belief, livelihood, and social, institutional as well as cultural practices. These together reflect the social and cultural system of a locality/area/region. The social and cultural systems have an adaptation mechanism to local weather and climatic situation through its practices fulfilling basic needs of food, shelter and clothing through designed livelihood activities, food system, settlement and housing, management of natural resources etc. However, certain social and cultural practices may also have indirect negative impacts on weather and climate parameters through their affect on natural resources. On the contrary, indigenous knowledge based socio-cultural practices also help many human societies in facing and coping up with extreme weather situations.
Systematic studies on local food practices, its seasonality and adjustments to weather situation, local calendar system, agricultural cycle and adjustments with weather, flood/draught adjustment approaches of different community/ locality; traditional knowledge on weather prediction, cultural practices and its impact on ecosystem, weather situation etc. It is expected that the studies taken up would try to establish the science behind these practices along with the societal efforts to adopt with climate change.
Sub-theme – V: Weather, Climate and Agriculture
Agriculture is a climate dependent economic activity. Hence, it is most vulnerable to weather and climate changes because of its seasonality and narrow range of weather conditions influencing crop and livestock production. Climate change presents a profound challenge to food security vis-a-vis livelihood and development all around as well. Climatic hazards like flood, drought, and snowfall have effects on agriculture and allied sectors in a numerous way. Similarly, modern agricultural practices also play a vital role in climate change though its effect on green house gas emission, soil carbon sequestration, desertification etc.; thus establishing a both way relationship between agriculture and climate systems.
Observation of weather regulating factors and their impact on agricultural system, finding some method/technique to mitigate the negative impacts, practices related with seed selection, irrigation, soil management etc useful for adaptation. Children can also carry out study in different aspects of agriculture, right from seed selection, land preparation to harvesting and processing etc; it may be on how weather condition influences on agricultural practices; impact of changing condition on agriculture; impact of agricultural practices on local weather condition, how to overcome the adverse climatic weather condition for agricultural practices.
Sub-theme – VI: Weather, Climate and Health
Weather and climate not only influences environmental and social determinants but also affect health of the living beings. Health – as defined by World Health Organization, is a state of complete physical, mental and social well being and not merely absence of disease. Health, whether of human or animal, mainly depends up on safe drinking water, nutrition, sanitation or hygiene and the likes. Likewise, any variation in the weather or climatic conditions adversely affects the health of living beings. Outcome of these changes; heat or cold waves, drought or flood, storms etc., takes its toll on the health, manifested by occurrence of a disease, or even sometimes as an outbreak.
Causative factors, concerns arising and corrective measures of ailments like water / air / vector borne diseases (diarrhoea, malaria), infections (bacterial or viral) and infestations (parasitic), zoonosis, re-emergence of certain diseases and others which are influenced by the variability of weather and climate.