Day 3 in Walchandnagar was an exciting and packed day. During the morning session, we focused on Magnetism and Electricity and Computer Science. First, we had the students make electric motors using wires, batteries, electrical tape and super magnets. For those of you that have been keeping up with our adventures, these were the same materials that gave our group so much trouble at the Detroit airport. We finally got to unwrap all the materials from the packaging that said “THESE MATERIALS ARE FOR A SCIENCE CAMP FOR CHILDREN” and allow the students to experience the wonder of electricity and magnetism. Many groups ended up being successful, and some of the magnet coils ended up spinning very quickly, much to the students’ joys. The students put these projects away with the rest of the projects, in order to show their parents on Friday, and we then started the Computer Science activities.
Many of the students didn’t even know binary, which is one of the basic topics of Computer Science, so we were excited to teach them so much in the time we had. Once the children understood the topic of binary numbers, they solved all the word puzzles with lightning speed, and even spelled their own names with a binary to letter code, where ‘A’ was 0 in binary, ‘B’ was 01, etc. We then moved onto an error detection game, which had many of the students laughing and many of the teachers scratching their heads. This game involved having a 5 x 5 grid of white and black tiles, and adding the sixth row and column in such a way that when one tile was flipped, the person who knew the trick would be able to say which tile was flipped. Apparently in one room, some of the students were feeling mischievous and would flip more than one card when one of us would turn our backs. It didn’t take long to figure out that the students were just trying to gain some laughs. Needless to say, it was a fun and enlightening game that many students seemed to enjoy. The last computer science activity of the day was a deadlocking game, which exemplified how computers must share data in order to complete a task. Again, it seemed to be well enjoyed and ended the morning session well.
The second day of our Model United Nations activity went by a little less hectically, though there were some interesting developments. The point of this activity was to show how problem solving could be used in areas other than science and math, and how topics like history could be made more interesting by trying to understand the point of view of the country and asking questions such as, “What prompted them to this decision?”. Even with the stressing of these lessons, we still had interesting situations, such as when Poland and Germany suddenly became allies, even though Germany had just invaded Poland. Once we pointed out this fact, Poland agreed to give up half their army if Germany left the country, and then Poland broke ties with Germany, effectively leaving them with a minuscule army. Alliances were made, war declared, alliances remade and war redeclared, and at the end of the day the students walked away knowing a little more about World War II and understanding (more than) a little more about social sciences and the thought process that comes with this activity (and the intricacies that come with political decisions).
After this, we went back to the house, were we had some delicious authentic Indian food, and then were taken on a tour of the Walchandnagar shop by some of the younger, female engineers. Walchandnagar industries manufactures a huge range of items, ranging from missiles to naval ships to submarines and much more. The mechanical engineers of our group could not stop talking and I (a Computer Science Engineer) was in awe by everything I saw. The second I saw the first ceiling crane, which had a capacity of 5 tons, was nothing in comparison to the ceiling crane that we later saw, which had a capacity of 20.5 tons. In addition, we also saw an attentive cat at the quality control, as well as what seemed to be it’s child, meowing on a box, realizing that it had no where to go so it might as well sit there. Moreover, we were able to see the Asia’s largest lathe, which (if my memory is correct) was about 15 meters long and 7 meters in diameter. We were also able to see a gear box used in submarines for the Indian navy, which were 67 tons each. Fun fact: there are TWO gear boxes per submarine. That means each submarine weighs at least 134 tons - this is not including the motor, other equipment, and passengers. This means that a contraption that is meant to float and sink weighs over 134 tons - I felt like my mind was blown. Today’s adventures in the shop were ones of awe and humongous machinery and even larger products. I swear that half of the parts that I saw could easily fit a family of four. After the sweltering walk through the shop, we proceeded to talk to some of the younger female engineers in the company, to share experiences. It was great to hear that the percentage of women in engineering was higher than in the United States and gave me hope that things CAN change. Listening to their experiences and sharing my own definitely was a worthwhile experience. Afterwards, we went back to the school for a discussion with the teacher about higher education, where we compared our own system to theirs. After these enlightening talks we went back to the house to prep for the next day and receive some well deserved rest. This unexpected heat can really be exhausting! Nevertheless, we are all staying hydrated and all looking after one another on this adventure in India!