According to a recent report, the Swedish edtech start-up arrived in Thailand last year, bringing with it its simple but innovative tools for science and technology learning.
Through a partnership with the digital unit of a major provider of educational products such as textbooks based in Bangkok, its kits are being made widely available in order to encourage creativity while promoting the concept of sustainability.
The start-up has educational kits that allow users of all ages to connect straws and other basic materials to build models and mechanical objects of different sizes. Sustainability is promoted through upcycling stations that creatively reuse waste materials.
In September, the start-up won the Nordic Edtech Award for 2018 during Oslo Innovation Week. All finalists represent the Nordic Edtech core values: equality, democracy, quality, motivational learning and efficiency. The start-up kits were also recently endorsed by the United Nations as educational tools for schools.
The company’s founder and CEO said that the three most important things for schools are creativity, sustainability and affordability. The start-up project hopes to bridge the digital divide and help reduce inequality in education. A few weeks ago, for example, a team from the start-up went to promote their system in Ghana, a country where children have very little. In February next year, they will go to Uganda.
The CEO noted that, in Ghana, the kids started innovating without the edtech developers even telling them what to do. Thus, they developed a die cutter, and the kids took waste materials from home or wherever and put them in the machine.
The team went to a school in the jungle. After the children had their lunch, they took their juice boxes, flattened them and took them to the upcycling station.
It was noted that the start-up created its original tools out of the juice boxes. After they made some of the waste materials into something useful, the children immediately learned their value. That built awareness of sustainability, the CEO noted, adding that this can also make a big impact in Thailand.
The company hopes to get children more aware of the environment as they learn to use the system.
The CEO noted that if the company succeeds in this, then it can make a big difference everywhere. That would be a big change in the world of education.
The start-up’s kit does not require many materials. The products are resource effective. Children create their own toys using any material: cardboard, bamboo, paper or whatever comes to hand.
Still, there are several challenges here. Coding, hands-on building and applying theory in practice are all important. And all three are new concepts to most young students.
The founder noted that applying theory at an early age is good for learning. However, he admitted that it remains a challenge for the start-up to get included in school curricula. There is no difference between developed and developing countries, he said. The challenges are the same. The project is still so new that no one – from the sellers to the government to schools – fully knows yet how to implement it.
It’s a massive task and it will take some time to make it work. The partnership with the education giant, therefore, is especially important. Thankfully, in Thailand, the education giant has a large market share, which can make the transition go faster.
The edtech kit now exists in more than 40,000 schools and in 200,000 homes in over 50 countries. The rapidly growing edtech plans to do much more next year.
The founder noted that the key for the company is to combine blended learning with a flipped classroom approach, making life easier for the teacher, especially in coding and robotics, which can sometimes seem complex.