One of the highlights of the last academic year marked MBIS’s visit to Japan. Under the Sakura science exchange program MBIS was invited by the Japanese government to showcase Japan as potential academic hub for
our students. We were privileged to witness the latest and the best of Japan. We spent 6 days (17th June- 22nd June, 2018) in Japan and I personally was awestruck with the fantastic confluence of the latest technology and its rich culture & heritage of the past which is still preserved like a delicate bubble by the Japanese. It was mesmerising to see the disciplined life which the masses sweared by and the technology that penetrated with such ease into the fabric of the society undeterred by any natural calamity that showed up.
Japan – a place where marvels come to life truly,” the Land of the rising Sun”.
- Shylaja Salwan
“The only source of knowledge is experience.”
For the first sixteen or so years of their lives, many will go through the process of formal schooling. This is often the result of belief in the power of education; an idea that, somehow, sitting in a classroom for eight hours a day will prepare today’s youth for any challenges they may face.
This simply isn’t true.
While knowledge attained in a structured learning environment may equip student
s with the tools they need for a successful further education, it is real engagement with the outside world that creates a meaningful understanding of what is expected—after all, it is no accident that most employers require work experience before even looking at a candidate’s credentials.
MBIS understands this. The need for real experiences is appreciated and given importance in every part of the curriculum. It is no surprise, therefore, that when students were given the opportunity to participate in the Japan-based Sakura Science Program, the school completely supported the initiative—there was certainly meaningful experience to be found.
A whirlwind maelstrom of ideas, arguments, and erudition, the trip to Japan provided us with experience. The experience of witnessing the effects of groundbreaking scientific research firsthand; the experience of being awestruck at the sheer scale of data collection involved in supercomputers—the experience of feeling as part of a greater whole.
It is often easy to lose oneself in the day to day, never stopping to look up and see where this road is taking us. The trip provided exactly that experience, forcing us to see our work in different contexts; to understand why we were doing what we were doing. To lose track of our motivations in studying science through a textbook is one thing—to see the pure, unadulterated passion in a Nobel laureate’s eyes is completely different.
It is safe to say, none of us are the same people we were before we stepped onto that plane. Experience is the greatest teacher, and we are lucky enough to have been its students.
Jamstec (Japan Agency for Marine-Earth Science and Technology) Tokyo
As part of the Sakura Science Exchange program, students from our school got the opportunity to visit the Japan Agency for Marine-Earth Science and Technology
(JAMSTEC). It was a welcome opportunity presented to us as we were shown the tools used by the institute to fulfill their goal of maritime study, which stretched from the evaluation of marine life to predicting weather phenomena based on patterns of waves seen at sea.
Japanese culture is synonymous with technological evolution and we were shown the development of supercomputers throughout the years in JAMSTEC. With each passing iteration of their flagship supercomputers, we learnt that the processing power increased exponentially and helped predict natural disasters, something crucial to the island nation that is frequently beset with destructive earthquakes and tsunamis.
With the students’ curiosity and the willingness of the researchers to impart information, a compelling discussion was had as to what the future held with regards to improvements in quantum computing and the potential implications of such improvements on predicting natural disasters. These discussions helped us gain an understanding of the magnitude and importance of the work done by JAMSTEC and how technology improvements contribute to our understanding of the oceans and seas.
Perhaps the part of the experience that stood out the most to me was the tour of submarines and deep sea machinery used to explore and study the depths of the ocean. Witnessing these machines first-hand while learning about them allowed for an intuitive understanding of how they worked and the roles they fulfilled. Each machine seemed to tell a story, with several nicks and scratches caused due to their voyages to the depths of the ocean. The experience as a whole was insightful and was an important part in making the exchange program so rewarding.
-Aditya Roy Chowdhury
Miraikan Science Museum(Tokyo)
I honestly didn’t feel like I was in a museum. I know that this may sound absurd, but all the other museums I’ve been to were the ones with artefacts in a glass box that screams “DO NOT TOUCH ME”. I was amazed by how interactive and engaging Miraikan Science Museum was. It also made me realise that I know absolutely nothing about anything that is probably going to be a big part of our lives sometime in the near future.
We were warmly welcomed by Mamoru Mohri, a Japanese scientist and astronaut, who gave us insights into some rather fascinating phenomena – why is space always dark/black? We were then given the opportunity to explore the museum by ourselves.
I remember being mind-boggled by this humungous 3D simulation of the Earth as seen from space, hanging from the ceiling. It was frankly so compelling to just watch how the clouds and tides move so beautifully in a matter of minutes so that any given place on Earth never looks the same for too long.
Up until I stepped into Miraikan, I thought that Sophia was the only humanoid ever built – but the Japanese had two on display… We also saw Ashimo – a smart robot – who put up an adorable performance which magically appealed to people of all backgrounds and even ages.
I don’t know how my two hours flew by so fast. I remember exploring every nook and corner of the museum, in areas ranging from Physics, Chemistry and Biology to Geography and History to Design and Technology to…basically everything one can think of. It takes tremendous excellence to create something that fascinates all audiences with diverse personal interests.
To me, something that stood out the most was probably the game-like simulations that helped raise awareness about the future, preservation of the planet and cleverly challenged one’s perspective on life and where we all stand in this world. I personally think that we’ve been a lucky bunch to see and experience all that is extensively happening in Japan and, seemingly, nowhere else in the world.
Chemistry Lab with Dr. Hideki Shirakawa (Tokyo)
One of the highlights of our trip to Japan was a Chemistry lab, conducted under the supervision of Dr. Hideki Shirakawa and his students. Dr. Shirakawa had won the Nobel Prize in 2000 for the discovery of conductive plastics. Through his guidance and various explanations, we were able to understand the theory behind his experiment and its various applications and learned a heap of lab skills.
A lot of our students, especially me being a Chemistry student, was able to connect a lot of my learning throughout DP1 to the experiment and this is what increased my understanding to a level where I could simplify it and explain to the others. I was able to connect the classroom to the lab room, where the interaction between different aspects of chemistry was highlighted to me and how these interactions between principles; whether it be bonding, organic chemistry or simply the properties of elements; when put together, its applications were varied going from battery cells to speakers to smart glasses. Not only the theory, a lot of the lab skills we had acquired in school led us to successfully create our own conductive plastics.
The learnings we took away from this day will never be forgotten by any of us and we are very thankful for the opportunity!
Ritsumeikan High School (Hokaido)
One of our visits included a traditional high school system of Japan and it was a really memorable experience since it was completely different as compared to the system we follow. We visited the Ritsumeikan Keisho High School and one major learning that I got after seeing the school was the amount of discipline and traditions that are preserved in their education system. The very first time we entered the school, we had to change to their footwear since they believe in absolute cleanliness and it is a part of their culture. Then, we had an amazing technology related ice breaking and team building activity in which we had to present all our takeaways, thoughts and reflections. Each team consisted of members from different countries and one thing that was common to all of us was education. We were fascinated to see the unique suggestions and contributions that the students of 3 different nationalities and background had to offer and keeping an open mind helped us to understand their ways of thinking and enabled us to see the same problem through a different set of eyes. After this activity, we had the opportunity to explore and understand some of the co-curricular activities that are run in their school such as cooking classes and ken-do (martial-arts).
A well spent day where we learnt that if minds are open language is not a barrier!