“Many private schools have astronomy clubs and charge a whopping Rs 10,000 or above from students who’re willing to be a part of the club. Now that is a sum not every child can afford. I want every child to have accessibility to these labs so that they too can observe the sky and aim for the stars,” he says.
It is from his own personal hardships that Mishra has learnt to do what he is doing now. Not many approved of his desire to learn more about astronomy. His parents and friends hardly paid attention until at the age of 14 when Mishra was awarded for discovering an asteroid as part of an outreach programme hosted by the Astronomical Society of India (ASI) in 2014. “It is not everyday that the son of a newspaper vendor figures on the front pages,” he recalls.
From being able to give lectures alongside former NASA Astronaut Nicole Stott to having his idol Rakesh Sharma write a message to him, Mishra has taken it upon himself to spread his love for the cosmos and its discovery. He holds skype sessions and classes with students across the length and breadth of the country as well as across the globe. “I don’t want any child to feel leftout. I remember how my friends would ridicule me for dreams. I want every child to explore the unknown and harbour bigger dreams,” says. the 19-year-old who’s pursuing a BSc in physics from Ashoka University.
Astronomy as a subject is not well integrated in the education system today. Thereby, very few students are exposed to the know-hows and opportunities within the field. “The idea of starting a venture was to bridge this gap. We not only help schools build the layout and interiors of these labs, but also instal equipments,” says Mishra. His venture is already in talks with the central government to set up over 500 such labs across all the Kendriya and Navodaya Vidyalayas. He has also been approached by the NITI Ayog for a collaboration with Atal Tinkering Labs.
“Had I not seen hardships myself, I don’t think I would have been able to follow my passion so well,” he rues.