Mr. E.P.W. Helapitage - Physics & Technology Specialist

In 1952 Mr. E.P.W. Helapitage joined Sri Palee as a science graduate – physics teacher.  Mr. Helapitage was a science teacher with diverse interests.  He helped the students to understand science and utilize science in everyday life and activity.

Over thirty percent of the science apparatus in the physics laboratory at Sri Palee was personal creations by him.  He organized the students to get involved in the construction of some of those laboratory items. He wanted students to Observe, Remember and Compare.  He indicated this ORC is a self-learning principle and requested all Science Students to practice this principle.  He provided us with books from his personal Library and brought in Meccano construction sets, Hornsby electric model train sets, valves, transistors and other components, radio gadgetry and multi-meters to name a few.

He started a Radio Club and appointed me as the secretary.  He helped us to develop schematic diagrams from electronic circuits as a step that will assist when building more projects.  It was a novel experience and experiment.

In 1958, Sri Palee was presented with Astronomical Telescope (Jupiter).  This gift from Mr. Wilmot A Perera to Mr. E. P. W. Helapitage yielded yet another novel chapter to the enthusiastic science teachers and students.  In the evening to late night, they were observing the sky and the stars.  The Astronomical Telescope is said to be like a time machine - This idea is not grasped fully by many lay people even today. 

Mr. Helapitage gave a vivid explanation : “when you focus on stars up there in the sky; you see here the star as it actually appeared tens or even thousands of years in the past.  An indication of how long it takes for light – zipping along at a speed of 300,000 kilometers per second to cross the vast gulf of space between here & there”. 

Mr. Helapitage explained to us further “When we look at the night sky, we see thousands of bright star illuminations, miles and miles away.  But although we see the twinkle of a bright star as at any moment now, actually it must have burnt itself thousands of years ago - since light transmitted when it existed, is still reaching us at a speed of 300,000 km per second”

That night he continued to show us Saturn and it’s Rings, planet Jupiter and its four moons. He wanted us to track the appearance of the moons of Jupiter, which really gave us knowledge and inspiring thoughts to process our thinking towards furthering our science education.

Mr. Helapitage’s student audience for this mini demonstration were: P. D. Sathyapala, H. D. Dayananda, M. D. Dayananda, Piyarathne Amarathunga and myself.  He had turned around Science Students to be Bright Science Students in many institutions of Sri Lanka, United Kingdom and Bermuda too.

Mr. Helapitage back in Sri Lanka after retirement from his teaching career was living at Kiribathgoda. There were a set of mature Sri Palee past pupils who visited him regularly to talk with him and share life’s memories. This team mainly from Colombo and suburbs – Dr. Jayaratne, H.D. Dayananda, Dr. Upali Senanayake, Piyarathne Amarathunga, Janaka Kumara, Jayasundara, Dayananda Gallage, W.A.D. Perera, few ladies and myself. His family members have told me that Mr. Helapitage was considering our visits as a second family members visiting him. He was very delighted to see us at home – and Mr. & Mrs. Helapitage treated us well. Dr. Jayaratne visited him on numerous occasions – some times late in the night driving all the way from Colombo to Kiribathgoda to treat him for his health concerns. On my part I talked to him every week over the phone and visited him often. Once or twice I invited both of them to my humble home and he too invited my family to his residence once or twice. These are treasured memories of “Mr. E. P. W.  Helapitage” which I retain even at this hour today.

Recalling Mr. Helapitage, my wish is - I should be his student in my next birth too. He should teach me Physics, Applied Mathematics and the atmosphere of the Radio Club,  Science & Technology to be associated in a similar context. His teaching and personality played a huge role in my life. I could see after a physics class him leaving the classroom with his “head high” having done a meaningful session to his students.  

Late Mr. Helapitage was my Principal / Teacher since my school days and later he was a mentor and a guide to me who inspired to further my life to be what I am today.  He would always be with me in all my endeavours, though he is not with us now.

Mr. E. P. W. Helapitage addressing the students on the day scholarships were awarded to three A/L Students (1993). The Scholarships were sponsored by Uni Walkers Ltd.

Mr. E. P. W. Helapitage addressing the students on the day scholarships were awarded to three A/L Students (1993). The Scholarships were sponsored by Uni Walkers Ltd.

 

Last Updated on Friday, 25 December 2009 17:43