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Study tours in Tamil Nadu take school kids to Himalayas, Nasa

CHENNAI: It was the Vandalur zoo in the 1980s. Soon enough, it progressed to Kanyakumari and Ooty. Now, student excursions have crossed borders - and seas - to reach National Aeronautics and Space Administration (Nasa), the American space agency.

Suresh Kumar of Class 12 is among a group of 35 people, including parents, who will go on a 10-day trip to Nasa, University of Florida and Epcot theme park on a package put together by Uniglobe Adyar Travel Bureau. "I am so excited. This is my first trip abroad. I am keen to pursue aeronautical studies in future. So, this will be an educative and entertaining tour," said Kumar.

At Kennedy Space Centre, astronomers will talk to students and give them an insight into a career in space science. "Earlier, we were able to show them around places during trips. We are trying to do something more through the recent trips and make vacations productive for students. Students will have career choices and if lucky internship opportunities by the end of the trip," said John A, manager of Tours and MICE (Meetings, Incentives, Conferences and Exhibitions) in the company which has been conducting Nasa tours for students between Classes 6 and 12 for the past three years.

The number of takers for such programmes is growing through the years, said John. "We received more than 50 inquiries and 17 confirmed participants, but we can take only 35 in one batch. We are planning to introduce a trip to the Solar Industries in Germany for students," he said. Agents say such tours are in vogue among schools and parents despite the cost, which ranges between Rs 1.5lakh to Rs 3lakh. Some middle class families, too, are coming forward to enroll their children in such programmes, said John.

Travel Tours has been taking students to Malaysia and Singapore to visit universities and also participate in exchange programmes at schools. "Going abroad is the trend now and most of the trips are organised by schools. There is strong competition among schools to take children to places such as Nasa and the Orlando Science Center," said C N Shanmugam, vice-president of the company.

On May 6, around 30 students of Bhavan's Rajaji Vidyashram will set off to the American space agency. After compiling a project from Nasa, the children will visit Washington, New York, Hersheys and the Niagara Falls. "Our first Nasa tour was in 2012. Many students of Class 11 were interested in space science and that's how the idea came about," said Ajeeth Prasad Jain, senior principal of Bhavan's Rajaji Vidyashram.

While it is the luxury educational tour for science aficionados, there are action-packed adventure tours for travel enthusiasts. Adventure Activities Promoters (AAP), a group based in Delhi, has been organising Himalayan treks for schoolchildren for the past two decades. Consisting of different trails, the treks are held for a seven nights and eight days.

"Student flow from the southern states has grown during the past three years. It is difficult for students as they have to travel to Delhi to join the trekking group. Our programme is called the Himayalan Adventure Trek and we started this to promote a sense of adventure and integration among children," said AAP founder Chandrakant Arya.

Students from Classes 7 to 12 can go on the Himalayan treks, while younger children can go on nature study camps where activities are held in base camps.

Last Updated April 15 2014
Posted on April 15 2014
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