Curiouscity: A go-to destination for kids in Bengaluru to have fun with science
While science can be a very niche domain for some, it can also be a ‘Eureka’ moment for others. Museums, laboratories, and exhibitions can help you navigate through the world of science and technology, but with Curiouscity, a discovery center off Sarjapur Road, you can have ‘fun’ with science.
That is how Bengaluru-based Dr Shonali Chinniah, a marine ecologist, expresses her love for science. Established in 2020, Curiouscity aims to be the go-to destination for students between Class 4 and 7 and for young adults who are curious to know various topics of science.
Shonali and her husband Anil Chinniah, the founders, lived in the US for about 15 years and moved back to India in 2003. While Anil focused on the web center, Shonali worked at several NGOs in Bengaluru.
Shonali and her team then started Curiouscity Science Education as a social enterprise in 2009. Their aim was to bring science to life where the key to learning is an inquiry-based approach where kids can explore concepts of science and ask questions as they go. Shonali and her team used to conduct workshops in government and private schools in Karnataka and expose them to a series of scientific experiments dealing with water, electricity, and flight among others.
Over the years, they developed several models of discovering science with children—from two-hour science workshops and weekend field trips and themed-based science fairs to the history of science and summer camps. Shonali was keen on introducing students to more practical concepts of scientific processes, away from the monotonous book learning. She also wanted to expand and apply years of science workshops and fun science experiments into conceptualizing a one-stop center for students to ‘rediscover’ science, which became the genesis of setting up the science center.
“Curious city is a place where people can discover and rediscover science and the joy of science. Because science isn’t a subject you have to learn hardcore. It is so much fun and interactive. Not just young children, but even young adults enjoy exploring the basic concepts of science, because of the lack of hands-on training in educational institutions. In short, it is an attempt to fill the gap between theoretical and practical learning,” said Shonali who has self-funded the center.
Spread across two acres, the center is divided into components like science exploration spaces, illusion and escape rooms, outdoor space, a science play zone, and an auditorium. The science exploration space contains experiments based on traditional subjects such as Physics, Chemistry, and Biology, along with inter-disciplinary areas. The illusion and escape rooms provide endless fun to kids and adults alike. One can walk through a room full of mind-bending, eye-deceiving illusions where nothing is really as it seems, and experience the limits of human senses. From solving science-based puzzles to breaking out of escape rooms, and putting problem-solving abilities to the test, the space is a real brain teaser.
Curiouscity also boasts of a fun space for younger kids to play with science-based toys like magnetic sand, mechanical devices like gears and pulleys, and dinosaur models to spark curiosity by tapping into their palpable playfulness. In the future, the center will also have mini bio-diversity zones with native species of flora and fauna, a butterfly park, an animal rehabilitation center, water harvesting, and waste management among other facilities.
“Going ahead, we would like to see kids come as members through a membership model where they can access the science space for two-hour workshops which they do all by themselves. We also want to bring in more people from the scientific community who can engage the kids in discussions, workshops, and talks related to science and other innovations,” said Shonali.
Curiouscity is open only on weekends and on selected public holidays between 10 am and 5 pm. However, on weekdays, it will be dedicated to doing science programs with both private and government schools.
According to the founders, the aim is to make this center accessible to children from all socio-economic backgrounds, where they charge schools that can afford it and do sponsored programs for low-income schools.