She is a whizkid from Jharkhand — with an affinity for numbers. Milu Kumari, a 16-year-old Class X student from Jamshedpur, explains the working of “Carry”, a device that resembles an abacus morphed into a roller coaster. “Carry” is Milu’s brainchild
She demonstrates how children without formal education can be taught to add and subtract by using beads and clothesline clips. A bunch of schools children listen enraptured when “Carry” comes up with the final answer after adding three and four digit numbers.
Milu is an anachronism — she is the only one among the children, busy explaining the intricacies of their contraptions at the Children's Science Exhibition here — to list math as her career option. A number scientist.
In contrast, Ilakiya Natarajan from Sivaganga in Tamil Nadu was more down-to-earth. “I would like to become an IAS officer. There is scope for growth and opportunity to serve the people,” she said. It did not matter that she and her classmate Amla Grace were demonstrating how to recycle raw polythene from plastic waste.
“Being a scientist involves a long and tough preparation. I would rather be a child specialist,” says Amala.
Even Hyderabad based MK Piyusha and Sai Rohit, members of the Lead India group, inspired by President Kalam’s vision to “ignite scientific temperament in children, have their eyes set on Information Technology or Computer Science”.
Why not pure science or research? “It takes years to get a your PhD and scientific jobs do not rake in the moolah,” the duo explained.
Maynkar Rathore from Begusarai in Bihar wants to be an IAS officer as it “will help him contribute to the progress of his backward region.”
His science teacher nods in agreement. "A scientist has to work long hours for the sake of others. Children, who want to see success very early, are not attracted even if they may show some interest in science during their school days," he said.