As part of the PROTECT Communication, Education and Outreach program, all the Early Stage Researchers (ESRs) are expected to engage in Communication, Education and Outreach activities. These outreach activities are meant to address key challenges of “climate change” and bring social awareness to the general public, especially in school children.
We, ESRs Gopi Talari and Rhea Chhaya decided to conduct two outreach activities in India during our annual leave at two schools, one at a primary school (3rd grade to 7th grade: aged 9 to 13 years) and another at a secondary school (8th to 10th grade: aged 14 to 16 years). Both took place in the Southern part of India, Laxmipuram village, East Godavari district, in the state of Andhra Pradesh.
We planned to give a research presentation followed by some fun activities to have a better understanding of how impactful our talk was and the general awareness of the students. As the school children are from non-English backgrounds, talks were given in the regional state language, “Telugu”. The majority of the students were interested in expressing their thoughts in drawing and some in writing. So, we conducted a drawing and essay writing competition on the topic of “Causes of Climate Change and its Impact on the Environment”.
The day before the event, ESR Gopi visited the schools and got approval to conduct the event in the afternoon session. Drawing and essay writing topics were given to the students and a motivational speech to encourage participation in the competition.
On the day of the event at each school, all the students from the school participated in drawing and essay competitions. Followed by a research presentation by both the ESRs, Rhea gave a talk on “Climate Change Impacts on Food Safety” and thanked the participants for taking part in the day’s activities via Zoom and Gopi translated it for the primary school kids. The children were extremely engaged and wrote very well by addressing the challenges and their role as students to combat this climate change issue. They also drew amazing drawings. One particular stand out was a very talented girl from the 4th standard who had a vocal and hearing impairment who expressed her views with wonderful drawings. Three of the best were selected from each school for both competitions and awarded prizes. It was hard to select the winners among all the students as everyone did exceedingly well. We gave consolation prizes to encourage participation along with appreciation certificates. The district education officer visited the school and appreciated the event, it was a great success with the help of the school’s headmasters, administration and parents’ support.
The Outreach activities got picked up by the Andhra Pradesh state local newspaper.