CRafting Young Scientists of Tomorrow [CRYSTAL] programme

“Mould Them Young and Watch Them Grow”
Today, India is going through a phase of dynamic transformation in the field of science and technology. The nation’s intellectual or social capital is represented by the children talented in science, technology, engineering and mathematics (STEM). If identified and trained properly at an early stage, the children can not only bring sustainable solutions for real problems in the fields of science and technology, but can make significant contribution to the nation’s economic growth and development. Though many developed nations conduct intensive search for talents in STEM and nurture them by providing necessary facilities, their counterparts are often neglected or overlooked in many developing countries including India.
Further, a majority of the student population is from resource-poor homes and lives in villages. The children having outstanding abilities in STEM are often not able to follow their dreams and eventually lose interest in the subject area. Hence, there is a great potential in developing customized training modules/tools to identify the rich talents in STEM, channelize their aptitude and mould them as responsible citizens capable of contributing to the society. Hence, it is necessary to create a platform to nurture India’s budding talents and provide them exposure to the state of the art research facilities at early stage.
CRYSTAL [CRafting Young Scientists of Tomorrow] programme for students is aimed at creating a platform to identify their talents at an early age and nurture them.
The programme comprises of a continuous mentoring process to encourage the vital abilities of the children including creativity and task commitment along with the conventionally tested parameters including IQ, memory and problem-solving capacity. A customized training module/tools will be developed to identify the rich talents among the children. 
To begin with, every year, students who are State level winners of the National Children’s Science Congress (NCSC) in the Junior category [age group 10-14 years] are selected for the programme. These students are being shortlisted to participate at State level NCSC through screening processes held at school and district levels. 
A Mentor Group comprising of eminent academicians and scientists working at the renowned science and technology institutions of the country will be formed and the selected students are linked with a member from the Group. The purpose of this linkage is to provide a forum for interaction between the growing talented children and the scientific community. The mentors guide the students to identify their area of interest at an early stage and pursue a career according to their talent.
The selected students will also be given opportunities to undergo regular or customized training programmes including summer camps at R&D centres, training for competitive examinations including Science Olympiad and financial support to purchase books and other resource materials. An MoU may be signed with selected State and National R&D institutes in this regard. 
A meritorious student from a batch will be sponsored to attend a training programme at a reputed institute abroad. 
A student will be part of the programme only until he/she completes Class XII and chose a career of his choice. Thereafter, he/she will be a CRYSTAL Alumnus, who will continue to contribute to the success of the programme. 
Customized trainings shall also be given to parents of the selected children and teachers as it is essential to integrate them for the success of this programme. 
Anitha Kurup, Ajay Chandra and V. V. Binoy., Little minds dreaming big science’: are we really promoting ‘children gifted in STEM’ in India? CURRENT SCIENCE, 2015, VOL. 108, NO. 5.