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Students doing experiments in the Science Express
© Max Planck Society
Science Express gets over 2 million visitors in seven months

May 30, 2008

Welcoming a whopping 2.2 million visitors over the last seven months, the Indo-German Science Express – a science exhibition on wheels - has proved to be highly successful.

Science Express- A joint Indo-German pathway to discovery has travelled more than 15,000 kilometres in 217 days and played host to a wide range of science enthusiasts from all age groups across 57 Indian cities.

The exhibition on wheels is a cooperative venture between the German Max Planck Society (MPG) and India’s Department of Science and Technology (DST), with the support of Germany’s Federal Ministry of Education and Research (BMBF) and the German companies BASF and Bosch. On view are the exhibits and authentic photo and film material from the German research institutes Max Planck and Fraunhofer Societies and the European Space Agency (ESA). India’s Vikram Sarabhai Community Science Centre, Ahmedabad is one of the participants displaying their latest research.

The Science Express was launched by German Chancellor Angela Merkel and Indian Prime Minister Manmohan Singh on October 30th 2007, during the Chancellor’s visit to India. It not only gave Germany a unique opportunity to introduce to a nation of over one billion people the highlights of German research, but also prospects for strengthening Indo-German science and research collaborations. The touring of Science Express has also helped the Indian government in reaching out to people in the small cities and far flung areas and introduce them to the latest in science and technology.

On its journey through India, thousands of people have been flocking to the train each day. The record for visitors on a single day at the exhibition is more than 41, 000 in Ahmedabad. The 47th stop, the city of Ahmedabad recorded most number of visitors 1,75678-in five days. Not just students or scientists but also workers, farmers and merchants often come with their children and entire families to see the exhibition on wheels.“The Science Express is a massive success which has even crossed our expectations” says Prof. Peter Gruss, president of Max Planck Society. He added, “With the help of Science Express we have managed to prepare a worldwide communication platform for education and research in Germany.”

With the motto ‘Research in Germany-The Land of Ideas’, the science express invites people on a fascinating expedition into the mysteries of our world, groundbreaking discoveries, emerging issues of cutting-edge science, future oriented technologies and learn about opportunities of research in both the partner countries. The 400 metre long white train with 16 coaches showcases current and futuristic research in various fields including IT, biotechnology, health technology and Systems.

The custom-designed train has illustrated interactive exhibits, video clips, and large format images in its exhibition coaches. Each of the coaches is based on a scientific theme, such as the Big Bang, Architecture of the Brain, and World of Chemistry. Trained science communicators from the Vikram Sarabhai Community Science Centre in Ahmedabad explain the exhibits to visitors. The multimedia show is based on the Max Planck Society's internationally acclaimed "Science Tunnel". One of the main attractions is the BASF Kids’ Lab, which provides a hands-on laboratory experience to children visiting the train. It is a miniature interactive chemistry laboratory with four workstations. Students are briefed on experiments, their application and then given an opportunity to conduct the experiments on their own.

The BMBF and German Academic Exchange Service (DAAD) presentations of a high-tech strategy for Germany and Germany as a place for academic studies and high-tech are given a special stage.

The fascinating science-on-wheels completes its full circle and returns to Delhi on 31st May. The Science Express will be open to the public from 31st May – 3rd June. On 4th June, the exhibition is scheduled to be formally closed by Kapil Sibal, Indian Minister of Science and Technology and Earth Sciences, Professor Mehlhorn, Vice President, Max Planck Society and Julius G Luy, Charge d’ Affairs of the German Embassy in New Delhi. On this occasion, representatives from BASF India and the Science Express team from the Vikram Sarabhai Community Science Centre will share their experience of the Science Express’ journey.

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by Swati Sharma
© German Information Centre New Delhi
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