Teaching concepts of physics through folklore – My internship with Professor H.C. Verma at IIT Kanpur

Teaching concepts of physics through folklore - My internship with Professor H.C. Verma at IIT Kanpur - 1About the Author: Rishikesh Vibhute completed his B.Tech in Electronics and Communication Engineering from VIT University, Vellore. One of the winners of Internshala’s Intern with Icon initiative, he interned under Prof. H.C. Verma and shares insightful details about his journey.

I’ve always felt that Indian education system needs a makeover. Today, it mainly focuses on the theoretical aspect of concepts and not on the practical applications. After graduation, I thought about my career options for some time and decided to become a physics teacher. I started to acquire all the skills required to become a teacher.

Like the majority of Indian students, I knew about Prof. H.C. Verma and his most famous book, Concepts of Physics. I had seen his online videos and was intrigued by his teaching methodology. I wished to meet him and learn more about his thinking process. In the end of September 2016, through a friend, I came to know about ‘Designing Physics Experiments’ internship under Prof. Verma himself. The internship program was the initiative of Internshala called Intern with Icon, and I jumped on this opportunity. I wasn’t even enrolled at Internshala at that time. I quickly made an account and filled in the required details. The first round of selection consisted personal questions about my achievements and about why I should be hired. My answers to those questions were going to determine my selection for the second round. As many as 800 students had applied for the internship and only 2 students were going to work with Dr. Verma!

I wasn’t confident about my answers, but I got through the first round. The second round was a telephonic interview with Shobha from Internshala. I was informed about the date and time via email. She asked me questions about my family background, my interest in the field of Physics, future goals etc. and whether I was ready to relocate if I was selected. I told my father was a teacher himself and talked about my passion for teaching and making a difference. I was confident throughout the interview and cleared it. The third round was a telephonic interview directly with Prof. Verma. He asked me few questions like why I wanted to become a teacher, my views on current teaching methodology etc.
In the final round, I had to submit an assignment. I was asked to choose any one story from Panchatantra and to make physics-based questions on that story. I was also asked to provide correct and easy to understand solutions for those questions. After doing some research, I chose ‘The Monkey and the Dolphin’, a story with morals on lying and boasting, and prepared 7 questions along with their solutions.

On 8th November, just a day before my birthday, I received a mail confirming my selection for the internship. I couldn’t have gotten a better birthday gift! I was informed that my food and accommodation would be provided by Prof. Verma, and I came to IIT Kanpur on 10th January’17. Prof. Verma had provided his own quarter for my 3-month stay and, thus, house number 329 became my home. On the first day, I met Prof. Verma and he insisted that I must have lunch with him. He shared his ideas about making physics more interesting and relatable to students. IIT Kanpur campus is spread over an area of 1000 acres. It is not easy to roam around the campus on foot. Prof. Verma again surprised me by giving his own cycle to me.

He asked me to continue the work that I had done for the assignment. He wanted me to add more stories to the material. For every story, I had to make physics questions related to the action that had taken place in the story. I also had to provide solutions for those questions. Every alternate day, I would complete a story and discuss it with Prof. Verma. I could sense his expertise in answering any question that I asked – years of experience has given him that clarity of thoughts. Even though he is a celebrated teacher of India, he never made me feel uncomfortable when I was around him. Despite being very busy, he would give me ample amount of time to discuss the stories. And even though I was new, he gave me the responsibility and freedom to form questions for those stories. He certainly taught me an insightful approach to study and teach Physics! With all this exposure, I also received a monthly stipend. :)

I had completed around 10 stories when Prof. Verma informed me that he wanted to publish this material in the form of a book. I couldn’t believe my luck; my work was going to get published. Moreover, Prof. Verma wanted me to be his co-author for the book! It was like an icing on the cake and I couldn’t be prouder. I was given the target to complete the book in 3 months. The book would contain 30 Indian cultural stories from Mahabharata, Ramayana, Panchatantra, and Jataka tales.
I came to IIT Kanpur, expecting to learn about the physics demonstrations made by Prof. Verma, but I achieved much more than that.

Teaching concepts of physics through folklore - My internship with Professor H.C. Verma at IIT Kanpur - 3During my last few days, Prof. Verma was about to conduct a 3-day workshop on Physics for the teachers of Kendriya Vidyalaya Sangathan. He was going to demonstrate different physics experiments that he had designed apart from giving talks. He also encouraged me to take a one-hour session on the second day. As usual, he gave me the freedom for content preparation. Talking on my favorite topic in front of an audience full of teachers was a great moment that I’ll always cherish. On the final day of the workshop, I was also given my internship completion certificate by Shri. Ajay Pant, DC, Kendriya Vidyalaya Sangathan, RO Lucknow.

Some key people helped me a lot during my whole stay. Anurag Pandey, Amit Bajpai, Ashok, and Anupama Sharma – I’m grateful for your assistance. I would also like to thank my friend Sharayu Kulkarni for her help, and Shobha & the entire team of Internshala for providing me this once in a lifetime opportunity. This experience has only strengthened my resolve to work in the field of education and, currently, I’m teaching students of 11th-12th standard in Latur (Maharashtra).

Inspired by Rishikesh’s journey? Register here and start applying to these internships in science.

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2 thoughts on “Teaching concepts of physics through folklore – My internship with Professor H.C. Verma at IIT Kanpur

  • June 29, 2017 at 8:54 AM

    HCVerma, HCV is highly charged voltage solid material in physics with so much lucidity in his writings. Such a man exists in today’s world of Indian education is a rare phenomena. Cheers to Rishikesh who wants to be a physics teacher. Blessings and wishes to internshala for offering such a internship…

    Reply
    • June 29, 2017 at 4:11 PM

      Hi Annada,

      Thank you for the kind words :)
      It feels great to hear from our users.

      Thanks,
      Team Internshala

      Reply

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