“If you can’t explain it simply, you don’t understand it well enough”

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Date: 05/05/2017
Location: Kerala, India

The Science Institute is an educational institution in the state of Kerala in India which prepares 11th and 12th grade students for engineering and medical entrance examinations in India. As a former student of the Science Institute, ESR 9, Mr Manu Naduvil Mannazhi, was fully aware of the interests and ambitions of the 12th grade students that participated in his activity on the 5th of May 2017. To catch the attention of the 17-years-old future engineers, Mr Mannazhi presented various projects he worked on during his undergraduate and post graduate studies: design and development of microgravity facility, drop tower, the development of a sounding rocket and other hobby projects like the designing of Radio Controlled aircrafts, ornithopters (bird-like aircrafts), quadrotors, etc.

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The hobby projects motivated the students to ask for more: how can we become researchers? Mr Mannazhi presented the opportunities offered by the Marie-Sklodowska-Curie ITN Horizon 2020 programmes, using the IPPAD project as an example. He focused on the global climate change and the harmful effects of soot. As residents of India the students were already aware that there was a change in the emission regulations of their country in April 2017 and they were thrilled to listen to the research work performed in the IPPAD project aiming to find solutions to a problem they are sensitized to.

The involvement of the students was one of the 2 main reasons that made this activity a successful one. The development of the skillset needed to explain the research question and methodology in a way simple enough for high school students to understand was also a valuable experience, reflects the IPPAD Research Fellow. Because “If you can’t explain it simply, you don’t understand it well enough” (Albert Einstein).