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NASA engineer interacts with UP village school kids

A NASA space shuttle programme engineer from USA played an idiot to students in a Lucknow village only to make them dream to be India's first person on the moon. He played 'science advisor' to over 200 students from class third to tenth at Bharatiya Gramin Vidyala, Kanaura village, in Bakshi-ka-Talab block 45 km from Lucknow city.

delhi Updated: Jan 09, 2010 00:52 IST

A NASA space shuttle programme engineer from USA played an idiot to students in a Lucknow village only to make them dream to be India's first person on the moon.
http://www.hindustantimes.com/images/HTEditImages/Images/Pankaj-NASA-1.jpg

Adam Gilmore, a nasa scientist showing how space shuttle function to a village students near Lucknow.

HT Photo: Pankaj Jaiswal

So when the nine-year-old Sonu Kumar, with a running nose, returned home after Adam Gilmore's informal space science class, he pranced about his illiterate parents-Vijay Singh and Radhika Devi-and upturning his palm to show it as a space shuttle said: "I will go to the moon."

Adam Gilmore, 32 works for NASA as a Division Chief Engineer for the Space Shuttle Programme. Based at Johnson Space Centre in Houston, Texas, USA, Adam leads a team whose responsibilities include structures, mechanisms, materials, re-entry and on-orbit thermal protection for the Space Shuttle Orbiter.

The engineer on Friday played 'science advisor' to over 200 students from class third to tenth at Bharatiya Gramin Vidyala, Kanaura village, in Bakshi-ka-Talab block 45 km from Lucknow city.

Gilmore did not know Hindi, students did not know English but communication was such that the school had never witnessed before. Gilmore, like 'Rancho' of a latest Bollywood blockbuster 3 Idiots loves to interact science with children and inspires 'knowing' than 'cramming'.

He had a replica of Atlantis space shuttle, two video films (to show a shuttle's lift-offs, orbiting of a space station around the earth), did a rope-trick to tell them about the gravitation force of earth and how people like him manage to keep shuttles, satellites or space station orbit earth using earth's gravitation force. He created a solar system out of students and making them shift positions told them why it's cold in winters and hot in summers.

Gilmore said to the schoolteachers: "Showing is better teaching tool than telling". The students had never seen what all he showed them. The students do not have access to television channels like Discovery or National Geography that do show such programmes. The school is the only high school in 400 square kilometer vicinity.

After showing things to the students, he asked them to ask questions as stupid as possible. He expressed awe at the kind of questions the students asked. One asked: "Do the moon too have mountains", another was curious to know "where do the booster rockets go once they detach from a shuttle in airspace".

Gilmore had made news when he once took up an expedition on Mt Everest. And like Rancho he 'found' his bride in Himalayas-he actually married his NASA colleague Sabrina Singh in Himalyan foothills last year.
This was Gilmore's first such chance in India, but had done it before with children in an orphanage in Nepal and several schools back home. He promised the village students that he would visit and teach them more whenever he visits India more.

The village school is run by one SB Misra who himself is a geo-scientist. He in 1967 in Canada discovered a 565 million year old fossil that plugged a hole in Darwin's Theory of Evolution. Misra has many overseas friends and Gilmore happens to be son of one of them.

This is Gilmore's week-long visit to India with his classmates of an MBA programme he is pursuing part time in a US university. "I loved this and happy that I chose to come to this village instead of going to see the Taj Mahal in Agra with the classmates.