When was the last time you typed “Light” in the Google search bar? Can’t recall? Perhaps that’s because you did not. Light, being a topic that we have been studying ever since we were kids, doesn’t really entice one to especially look it up on the internet. That is until the topic of light surfaces as the theme of a special edition in a youth newspaper. That was exactly our aim, making the subject of light conspicuous and encourage the students to know the rather unknown about light in The Global Times (1), a registered student newspaper.
The first and foremost initiative undertaken as a part of the special edition was to decode why we are celebrating the International Year of Light. Not many children in India know that it is Ibn al-Haytham, dubbed as the ‘Father of Modern optics’ who brought light into our lives. Thereafter, students did a series of research work on the life of Ibn al-Haytham which were then converted into the top story of the edition. The story Ibn al-Haytham presented in very simple words was homage to this man who made outstanding contribution to the understanding of vision, optics and light.
“We know about Newton, Einstein, but we do not know Ibn Al Haytham, someone who taught us so much about light. The top story was an eye opener as it educated us about someone important who was lost in the pages of history,” Medha Mathur, a student of Amity International school, Pushp Vihar said.
Sometimes some things are explained better when presented in the form of a poster, for they make for a visual read. This is exactly how The Global Times attempted to present the journey of light for its readers. The poster traced the journey through a circuit from its first source the Sun, traversing through fire, torch, lamp to modern lighting, paving way to CFL and LED.
“The poster attempted to clarify the popular belief that Thomas Edison was not the sole inventor of light. There were a number of people involved in the process and finally in in 1880-, the electric light ‘invented’ by Edison went to earn a patent,” says Vira Sharma.
Since it was the International Year of light, the science departments took up a series of science experiments to unveil the power of light in our daily lives. These science experiments were then displayed in a special exhibition for the parents and visitors. Through hand-on experiments that ranged from refraction of light to formation of rainbow, students decoded the scientific phenomena of light in our daily lives. The Global Times took out a special double spread in their special edition of some of the science experiments for the read of the wider audience.
On a lighter note we also did a small poll on the topic ‘What does light remind you of?’ The options were (a) Diwali (it is the festival of light in India) (b) Sun (c) Power cuts. 85% of the respondents answered Sun. Which means that people were convinced that ‘Sun’ is the best source of light and we need to harness the most from it.
“Power cuts are rampant in India and it is common for people to say ‘there is no light’ every time you bring up the subject of light. I think this fact made the poll interesting,” shares another student, Amlaan Kumar of Amity International School, Noida.
The two editorial columns in this special edition also discussed different aspects of light. The chairperson of the schools in her column ‘let there be light’ addressed the importance of light, the power of Sun god in Hindu scriptures and the initiative taken by the school in its curriculum to spread awareness on the importance of lights as it bequeaths light to all.
Since this newspaper is read by urban children for whom light is just a press of button away, it was important to give them a different picture of how rural children view light. For the poor villagers in India, light continues to be a scarce commodity. The editorial column titled ‘Light woes’ appeals to the city dwellers to use the limited resources judiciously.
The Global Times is a 12 page registered weekly school newspaper with a circulation of 35,000 copies amongst school and high school students. The school newspaper taken out by the children, for the children and of the children has a strong student editorial board that first conceptualizes the content of the special editions and then generates the content through events and activities. Hence, it involves a lot of activities and buzz amongst the student fraternity.
This special edition on light is an attempt to engage the youth to appreciate and perceive light with a different perspective.
Vira Sharma is an expert in student newspaper with over 14 years of experience in Student Edition of India’s leading newspaper The Times of India and then as the founding Managing Editor of The Global Times, a weekly 12 page broadsheet school newspaper of the Amity Education Group, Vira Sharma has been in the field of educating and involving students through newspapers. An M.Phil in Educating from Jawahar Lal Nehru University, she has evolved this newspaper as an important education tool that aims to empower the youth with information and activities within the ‘school framework’. To achieve this objective, she has been conducting several programmes including ‘Youth Power’ that sensitizes the youth to different social issues as well as ‘Making a Newspaper Contest’ where the participating schools take out a complete edition on their own from articles and picture to illustration and designing.