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A museum on water management, inside a digital box

Newly-launched virtual module ‘Museum in a Box’ introduces children to sustainable water management that is specific to Indian topography

Tamil Nadu was battered with ferocity by Cyclone Nivar in November. The brute force of a storm, and flooding thereafter, often puts in perspective the importance of managing water, as a resource. The Care Earth Trust, in conjunction with the US Consulate General in Chennai launched ‘Museum in a Box’ as a starting point, for teachers and educators looking to introduce children to the basic principles of hydrology.

‘Museum in a Box’ is part of the multi-year initiative, ‘Water Matters’, that focusses on public exhibitions on science and sustainable water management innovation, installations, information kiosks, and interactive educational experiments, in collaboration with the Smithsonian Institution Traveling Exhibition Service (SITES), Care Earth Trust, and Science Gallery Bengaluru.

“It was originally meant to be a tangible box with 3D models and fact sheets, that would travel to schools across Chennai. (During the lockdown) the team had to pivot and take the project online, so the information flows seamlessly over digital media,” explains Seetha Gopalakrishnan, Project Manager at Water Matters.

The digital box on the Care Earth Trust website, is available, for free, in English and Tamil, and designed for middle and high school students. The virtual module incorporates three and two-dimensional animated films, explanatory tutorial videos, illustrated primers, posters, fact sheets, downloadable flash cards, interactive games and puzzles, and DIY projects.

Groundwater and aquifers, rainwater harvesting, biodiversity on wetlands and watershed, are explored through colourful maps, illustrations and animations by a team of local freelance artists, Nirupama Viswanath, Ram Keshav and Sriram G. Ishaan M, a fifth grade student at KC High International School, in Chennai, explains what part of the Museum in a Box really appealed to him. “I have studied water resource management in my social studies class this year. The 3D rendering of a Watershed, in this box, is very interesting. By using a model it explains how the topography of an area lets the water drain to a common point, much like a funnel.”

All information in the module has been tailored to the Indian milieu. With a focus on Chennai’s adequate rainfall, yet its water scarcity during the summer, the fact sheet Catch Where it Falls offers a glimpse into native wisdom used in the area to store rainwater in tanks, called eris or ooranis. A map of India shows chhapris in Jammu, kunds in Barmer, virdas in Gujarat, and surangams in Kerala, all designed to maximise water harvesting suited to the bio-geography of the state. Know Your Coast focuses on the ecology of India’s coastline, livelihoods, mangroves, climate change,and mitigation strategies. G Thangaraj, co-ordinator of the National Green Corps (NGC) Eco-club in Chennai finds the module useful as educators to navigate the changing landscape of digital learning, “Having all the relevant material in one place is very efficient, as it saves time and energy that would be spent otherwise in browsing on multiple sites. Parents have appreciated the bilingual content and the use of local landscapes for illustration.”

Anne Seshadri, Public Affairs Officer at The U.S. Consulate General Chennai, believes water matters, as countries strive to meet sustainablity goals. “We invite the public, especially the youth and secondary school educators, to explore challenges and solutions related to sustainable water management through this digital curriculum on water.”

Register at https://careearthtrust.org/museum-in-a-box/

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