Coimbatore Space Festival, India

Vanakkam! (That’s Tamil for “hello and welcome!”)

My name is Rin Scherrer, and I am the most recent addition to the Portage Bay team. I join the group as a developer, but I thought I would introduce myself with a story of my recent excursions to Coimbatore, India for the first ever Coimbatore Space Festival!

The Coimbatore Space Festival is the first of its kind in India – held at Bharatiar University in southern India, the festival was a collaborative endeavor between NASA (USA), ISRO (Indian Space Research Organization), and DRDO (Defense Research and Development Organization).  The goal was to provide inspiration for children interested in astronomy, rocketry, and other space related fields. There was workshops for both students and teachers, lectures by prominent scientists on topics such as Women in Science and The Sun and Us, and hands-on activities designed to teach and inspire.

As its contribution, NASA sent 9 scientists and educational specialists with an astounding variety of workshops and activities. Two of these – myself and my partner – come from Grove of Hope, a non-profit educational group whose mission is to spread hands-on science education around the world.  I have been a volunteer scientist with Grove of Hope since 2009, participating in science caravans primarily in Morocco. Our contribution to the Coimbatore Space Festival was a workshop about Rockets! Aided by 20 english-speaking college students as translators, we discussed rocket theory, Newtons Laws, rocket structure, rocket uses, and many other topics. This was rounded out with demonstrations of different types of model rocket launches. Who doesn’t like to shoot off rockets?!

The other NASA scientists and educators brought activities relating to robotics, structural engineering, solar viewing, UV light, the solar system, and much more.

For 6 days the festival brought in thousands of students, families and the interested public. Around 80,000 people visited the festival – nearly double what we expected! Most of these were school groups ranging from elementary to high school.  College students came on their own. Some buses drove students from over 6 hours away just for the chance to meet NASA scientists.

I was blessed and honored to be involved with such an amazing adventure. I can only hope that our presence helped inspire young minds to pursue greatness in the sciences.

Nandri! (Thank you!)

-Rin Scherrer


Rin and some of the fantastic volunteers!
Indian schoolchildren eagerly learn about rocket theory


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