HomeThe Virtual CrunchExhibitionsVirtual tour of deep ocean, Antarctica largest crowd-puller at Goa sci-tech expo

Virtual tour of deep ocean, Antarctica largest crowd-puller at Goa sci-tech expo

Panaji, December 12

Standing in front of the Virtual Reality station, complete with headset strapped, hands holding the navigators, 10-year-old Aarav Shah excitedly turns right and left, and even starts walking towards what he perceives to be Penguins out for a stroll at the icy Antarctica.

Monitoring the activity, a scientist nudges him, and Shah draws his hands forward, with a motion as if he is caressing something.

“What I liked most is that I got a chance to pet a penguin and I also went near a group of penguins,” the excited Shah narrated.

Shah is not the only one. Minutes earlier, 9-year-old Varmika Parmar had a more or less similar reaction. “I wanted to touch the Penguin; it was so exciting.”

After the virtual experience, the chirpy girl now wants to go to Antarctica.

That is exactly what the ongoing Mega Science Technology and Industry Expo as part of the India International Science Festival (IISF 2021) aims at — inculcating the scientific temper into masses, focussing on the young minds and drawing more and more young, raw talent to the research.

No wonder, the National Centre for Polar and Ocean Research (NCPOR) stall is drawing the largest crowds. It has put four VR stations to showcase the deep Southern Ocean and Antarctica along with scores of other displays such as a totally packed man in Himalayan gear standing near what is purportedly a tent for camping at a higher altitude or a replica of an ocean liner that goes to Antarctica.

Skilfully managing the crowds at one of the four VR stations, M. Swati, a scientist with the NCPOR, said, “We are getting wonderful reactions, especially from the students. One kid hugged a penguin and it just refused to let go.”

There is one VR station that showcases ‘Bharati’, India’s research station at Antarctica. The viewer feels like he or she is actually walking towards it and can easily enter the building.

At one point, a visitor almost gasped as soon as fluorescent green wavy lights — called the aurora australis in Antarctica, sometimes referred to as the ‘southern lights’, appeared on the screen.

“The one that appears in Antarctica is called Aurora australis and the one that appears in the north pole is aurora borealis,” explained the scientist at the stall.

Not just the younger lot but students in the higher age group, too, enjoyed the VR experience to the hilt.

Aniket Shirodkar, a student of BSc second year, took the virtual trip on an Ocean Research Vehicle and then dived deep in a submersible.

“It actually felt like being in the deep ocean,” he said. Explained Surya Prakash, scientist with the NCPOR, “This is a complete eight-minute virtual trip. You can actually see how the ice-breaker ship moves forward, you can be on board a submarine and go deep up to 1,000 metres and look at the ocean there. Those who cannot actually go to Antarctica or deep into the ocean, this is a good opportunity.”

The NCPOR stall is one of the dozens of stalls spread over two special halls at the Expo that saw a beeline of parents bringing in their young wards, collegians coming in droves and in general, people curious about various stalls.

Barely a few feet away from the VR stations, Nikita Faterpekar has brought in her niece Skeisha and nephew Ridvik to soak into the science flavour, both of them examining the prototype of an ORV, the ocean research vehicle.

“As a child, I learnt a lot through such exhibitions, my parents always took me there. I want my niece and nephew to learn it too,” Nikita said. The organisers couldn’t be happier! IANS.

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