Chalakudy centre all set for inauguration by November this year
Science enthusiasts in the central parts of the State will no longer have to travel all the way to the capital or Kozhikode for the planetarium experience.
Work on three science centres under the Kerala State Science and Technology Museum (KSSTM), Thiruvananthapuram, is progressing at Chalakudy, Kottayam and Parappanangadi in Malappuram.
First of the centres
The first of these, on four-and-a-half acres of land at Chalakudy, is set for inauguration by November this year.
“Of the around 5 lakh visitors we have a year, a good share is from other districts. Also, many participants of our Summer Creative Workshops for children are from other districts. Due to dearth of staff and space, we are often unable to accommodate all the applicants,” says G. Arul Jerald Prakash, Director, KSSTM.
The regional centres are expected to make informal science education accessible to more students.
The planetarium of the ₹25-30 crore Chalakudy centre is similar to the one in Thiruvananthapuram. It has a 15-metre diameter dome with 15 degrees tilt.
“The centre will have six high-end digital projectors. About 80% of the work on the centre is over. The observatory equipment will be reaching within a fortnight and the planetarium equipment is expected to arrive by June-July,” says Mr. Prakash.
The Science City at Kuravilangad in Kottayam is expected to be operational by January 2020. It will have a ₹13.5-crore 3D dome projector with 18-m diameter and 23 degree tilt.
“The planetarium at Kuravilangad is immersion type and visitors will have to wear goggles to watch the shows,” says the KSSTM Director.
The ₹120-crore centre is a Central-State partnership venture and the science centre is being built by the National Council for Science Museums.
Augmented Reality, Virtual Reality and motion simulator theatres are part of the centre. Plans are also there to set up a snow city and rope car facility.
At Parappanangadi, the planetarium building work started in February. If things pan out well, the centre will be inaugurated by January 2021.
Science educators think such centres will take children closer to science. “Due to the expenses and travel time involved, we have to limit the visits to planetarium to one or so a year. Opening of regional centres will definitely improve accessibility to scientific facilities,” says Anilkumar K.K., HSST(physics), GHSS, Mezhathur in Palakkad.
Innovation hubs, interactive science galleries, and astronomical observatories will be part of these centres. Visitor amenities like wash rooms and cafeteria will also be set up.
With the opening of these centres, the State will have five planetariums, including the Regional Science Centre and Planetarium at Kozhikode, a project under the Government of India.