The world’s largest practical science lesson’ at the prestigious Indian Institute of Technology (IIT) has entered the Guinness Book of World records. 2,000 participants worked in small teams to complete experiments as part of the lesson that focused on catalysts. The effort involved 40 schools from across the city. 50 students of Class 9 to 12 each were drawn from the government and private schools to set the Guinness World Record.
The experiment was conceptualized by Mr. Girish Kumar, a senior professor of chemistry at the Cochin University of Science and Technology in Kerala. It also had the joint support of the Ministries of Science and Technology and Earth Sciences as well as Human Resource Development (HRD) ministry.
During the experiment the students turned methylene blue “reddish brown” and they rapidly decomposed hydrogen peroxide to produce foamy ropes as a part of the Elephant’s toothpaste reaction. The experiment was completed within 65 minutes, conducted under close scrutiny from three independent observers and aided by 40 stewards, after which the students also prepared a report.
This attempt broke the previous record held by 1,339 students from Belfast in Northern Ireland doing a mass chromatography practical in February, 2015.
The event was organised by NGO Vijnana Bharati (VIBHA) as part of the IIT technical festival. “We carefully thought through the experiment selected, which is also part of the students' curriculum. The gas that was released was oxygen – a non-toxic one, and methylane blue is a benign dye,” explained A. Jayakumar, secretary general, VIBHA.
The record will be in VIBHA’S name. This is also the first time a scientific body in India has made to the world record.
The Indian government hopes such lessons will further catalyze students propelling them to take up a career in science.