The second episode of BYJU’S Young Genius will feature child prodigies — Aswatha Biju (13) for excellence in the field of Academic and Pooja Bishnoi (9) for her Sporting abilities.
13-year-old Aswatha Biju is a budding Paleontologist, who discovered her love for fossils aged just 5, when she collected a fossil and mistook it as a shell. She identified it in an encyclopedia and started to learn more about them.
“When I was aged 5, my father bought me an encyclopedia. When I was looking at the pictures in it, my eyes were fixed on an ammonite. First I thought it was a marine organism. After asking my mother, I came to know it was a fossilised creature and not a shell I generally see near the beach,” Aswatha said.
When Aswatha inquired where she can see more such fossils, her parents took her to the Egmore Museum, when she confessed to having returned at least 15-20 times in the coming days.
“We took her to the Egmore Museum. She would go back multiple times just to see the ammonite fossil,” Aswatha’s mother recalled.
From there, her interest grew and she has gone on to collect nearly 120 specimens of Invertebrates, Vertebrates, Chordates, Flora and Microfossil.
She proudly displays her collection in her room at her Chennai home – a mini-museum.
Paleontologist. Dr. Mahendra Pal Singh President of Paleontological society of India and Dr.Vandhana Prasad Director of Birbal Sahni Institute of Palaeontology certified her as the ‘Young Paleontologist of India’.
She has also received the Young Paleontologist Award from India Book of Records (IBR) and many others, Aswatha has many prestigious titles to her name, having worked in three fossil beds; namely Cauvery river basin (Ariyalur), Palar river basin (Gunduperambedu) and Godawari river basin (Maharashtra)which comes under the Mesozoic era.
Aswatha has reached out to 6000 students across schools and colleges and geology institutes; spreading awareness about the lesser-known field.
“I will not only like people to know there is a field called Palaeontology but also educate them that could pursue this field, rather than choosing medical or engineering.
Pooja Bishnoi holds the world record of covering a distance of a 3 km run in 12.50 minutes and 10 km run in 48 minutes in the Under-10 category. She is also a World Record holder for the youngest Asian with 6-pack abs. All that at just age 9.
Coming from a small village from Jodhpur, Rajasthan, 3-year-old Pooja expressed her wish to run against boys double her age to her maternal uncle. On her first try she lost by some distance but uncle-turned-coach Sarwan Budiya, vowed to make her an athlete.
After some training, she left those boys behind, “some 20-40 meters behind,” recalls Sarwan, who was himself an athlete at the Sports Authority of India but was forced to give up after a severe hamstring injury.
Sarwan recalled how there was no one there for him when he was starting out in the field of sports and faced a lot of backlash from family, who wanted him to get a ‘normal’ job.
“I want to Pooja to not only do what I couldn’t but make India proud,” he said.
Now Pooja practices for over 8 hours a day.
“I wake up at 3 am and train till 7 am and the go to school (or online classes now) and come back at 2 pm and take rest for one hour and then train again in the afternoon from 4 pm to 8 pm,” Pooja explained her daily routine.
A packed schedule throughout the day does not deter young Pooja.
“I want to win a gold medal for India so I am training hard for it,” she says proudly.
She has also been selected by the Virat Kohli Foundation and is supported by it.
The second episode of BYJU’S Young Genius will be aired on January 23. Each episode will be telecast on 18 channels of Network18 every Saturday, and the repeat telecast will happen on Sunday.