On 30 October, the first performance within the scientific and educational project "Science Theatre" was held in the main hall of the Petrovskiy book club. The idea of such a theatre was suggested by Anna Kokhanovskaya, a student of the Faculty of Physics. It was first highly praised at one of VSU’s innovation projects competitions, and later became a laureate of “Project Conveyor” within the framework of the National Educational Forum “Territory of the Meaning” on the Klyazma River. All the actors are students. The first play tells the story of invention of the Zelinskiy gas mask, a device that has saved thousands of lives.
Zelinskiy gas masks have been used by armies for over 100 years, and it is still considered to be the best protection from chemical weapons. On 31 May 1915, German troops released the first poison gas attack against Russian troops near the Rawka River. What Russian soldiers first saw was a greenish cloud above the trenches which everyone thought to be a common smokescreen that should have been followed by an attack. Hence, all the reserves were moved up to enforce the front. The number of casualties in this attack all along the front line totalled to about 8 000. Of course, various organisations then started to work hastily on the development of a device that would provide protection against inhaling poisonous gases. It was Nikolay Zelinsky, an outstanding Russian physicist, who first suggested using activated charcoal to filter poisonous gases, and Mikhail Kummant, an engineer from St. Petersburg, suggested to combine this filter and a rubber mask with glass lenses. Zelinsky never tried to patent his invention. He believed that a device that protected people and saved their lives belonged to everyone.
Since the theatre is a scientific and educational project, while acting, the students also performed chemical experiments that demonstrated how a gas mask functions. At the end of the play, the audience also could take part in a quiz and check what they remembered from the history of the invention. "Science Theatre" has already announced several plays dedicated to the most interesting inventions. The project’s organisers and participants think that this is just a little step, but it will help to make people aware of the role that Russian scientists have played in the history of inventions. This is important, because a nation can only flourish and develop when people know their history and are proud of their ancestors.