My CSR dose for the day: promoting science among school children.

By Muditha Senarath-Yapa

I have volunteered in various activities organised by the John Keells Foundation (JKF) during my tenure at John Keells and I have always wanted to put my knowledge into good use in society. The Science Day organised by JKF in collaboration with Sri Lanka Association for the Advancement of Science (SLAAS) was an amazing opportunity to bring out the ‘Scientist’ in me. I gladly volunteered to be the Project Champion for this given my personal opinion towards less privileged students’ inability to have proper access to science education due to various financial and logistical issues.

Phase one of the Science Day Program (SDP) is a full day programme consisting of sessions covering topics such as environment, health & nutrition, physics, quizzes, question paper analyses and a poster competition conducted for students of grade 8 and 9 in identified schools around the country. The objectives of this initiative are to support the advancement of science among school children of disadvantaged areas, creating an interest in science so that students might pursue a career or further studies in science and creating awareness of how scientific thinking be brought into their day to day life.

With a PhD in Analytical Chemistry, science has always been a great passion of mine and it gives me great pride to share my knowledge and foster the same interest in anyone interested but especially in children. I strongly believe that there is a vast pool of untapped potential in Sri Lanka and with the right guidance and teaching, our children can become some of the greatest leaders of tomorrow. Despite this, many people today lack the basic scientific understanding and curiosity to question what is happening in our surrounding today. I have often seen people exclaim confidently that drastic changes in our surroundings are occurring because of spiritual or supernatural forces when in fact it is simply a case of science that can explain such phenomena. The field of science is filled with opportunities promoting vital skills and enabling innovation, research and technology which are paramount in taking our country to the forefront. My success today is largely due to my science background which has instilled in me an analytical mind and I can only hope that this programme does the same for these children.

Being the project champion for this initiative is greatly fulfilling as it allows me to give back to my country and impart knowledge to those most curious and deserving. The science day programme means a lot to these children where some of them have never seen a projector or telescope before. Seeing their fascination especially during our demonstration of fun and easy to do home experiments, it reinforces my belief that our small Island is filled with passionate and bright children who could really make a difference in the future. Our science day programme is constantly modified according to the feedback we receive and our own internal evaluation.  Along with creating an interest in science, we hope to foster an inquisitive mind in our children, equipping them with the correct mindset of lifelong learning in order to succeed in the workforce. It is a privilege for me to be able to use my skills and knowledge for the benefit of children and making them smile is truly a rewarding experience that has made my work life more meaningful. I am looking forward to the start of the phase two of SDP soon where much more exciting things are waiting for those inquisitive minds.