Has anyone ever imagined that aerodynamics could be taught to children through theatre and arts? Well, city-based actor and aeronautical engineer Jagadeesh Kanna says it’s possible. He came up with an idea of combining aeronautics and theatre and started an initiative called Vaayusastra.
“We are trying to implement an alternative education method through which children are taught the concept of aeronautics through storytelling and skits. How exciting would it be to learn about the solar system and the airplane through the story of Aladdin?” asks Jagadeesh.
The team behind Vaayusastra embeds science into Indian, Greek and Chinese mythological stories or fables. Their main objective is to enable the students to explore their creativity, coupled with the expanding horizons of space research and development globally with an eye for innovation and technology in the field of aero modelling.
“Ravana kidnapped Sita in a pushpakavimanam, which is nothing but a plane, Arjuna used missiles, the infamous Tamil folk story of paati vada sutta kadha teaches the layers of atmosphere... like this, 52-odd stories are used to design a programme.
The science behind flying a paper plane and an actual plane are the same — so we teach students to make paper planes and rubber powered foam gliders through our aeromodelling workshops. Children might forget technical terms, but they never forget a story. We are trying to mold these dynamic young minds,” says Jagadeesh.
The engineer-turned actor feels the Indian education system is largely theory-based and it’s high time we included innovative methods to make learning more interesting.
“Children have a very short attention span, but they watch our short skits with a lot of enthusiasm. As a result, they end up learning a thing or two about aerodynamics. Stories pique the curiosity in children, not theories.”
Jagadeesh also teaches scientific theories on stratosphere and evaporation through similar techniques. Vaayusastra was recognised by IIT-M and incubated under Rural Technology Business Incubator (RTBI), which comes under the Government of India’s Ministry of Science and Technology. “They are funding our programmes and have provided us with an office space at IIT Madras Research Park, Taramani.”
The team behind Vaayusastra include eight aeronautical engineers and seven theatre artists.
“We are already taking regular classes at the Government Nava Bharath School, Chromepet as part of their curriculum. We also take classes at the CBSE School, Vedanta Academy.”
They have also started to teach children to make drones and minisatellites and is all set to propose a project to NASA. “I want to take my knowledge on aeronautics to every village across the country,” concludes Jagadeesh.