INNOVATION

Girl's science platform livens learning for kids

It is made of science enthusiasts and teachers.

In Summary
  • Funke Science started in 2016 by training 20 children, a number that has since risen to 2,000 children
  • It teaches the children the value of science in daily life and that science is not only manageable but very easy to learn
A schoolgirl poses for a photo outside a school in Kajiado on July 21, 2017.
STEM CAREERS: A schoolgirl poses for a photo outside a school in Kajiado on July 21, 2017.
Image: COURTESY

Tracy Shindu was studying Industrial Chemistry at the University of Nairobi when she realised that many of her colleagues did not have a practical knowledge of science.

She came up with the idea to develop a platform to teach science through simple yet funky experiments that can be replicated at home, called Funke Science.

Funke Science started in 2016 by training 20 children, a number that has risen to 2,000. It includes children from informal settlements who are tutored for free.

The platform is made of science enthusiasts and teachers. It has science sessions, games, videos and tutorials for children between the ages of three and 18.

The materials that we have are interactive and encouraging to children as they are able to do some of the experiments from home through the tutorial videos,” Shindu says.

It teaches the children the value of science in daily life and that science is not only manageable but very easy to learn.

The platform has seen a 40 per cent increase in engagement rates through advertising, reassuring Shiundu that her content is reaching the right audience.

Thanks to Facebook, Funke Science has seen a 35 per cent increase in revenue, ensuring that it can continue to provide its valuable service to even more children in Kenya and beyond.

At the beginning, Shindu relied on word of mouth to promote the platform. In 2018, however, she started to use Facebook personalised ads, which allowed her to promote her services and events to a wider audience.

This has given her the opportunity to share content with children in Africa and various parts of the world.

Before Covid-19, Shindu would go to schools and hold forums where she would perform some experiments as well as allow parents and children to try them out too.

The pandemic accelerated the idea of going digital since starting a digital classroom had always been in her sights.

The pandemic saw her revenue decrease by 27 per cent, though she continued using Facebook and Instagram to strengthen the business online presence.

With personalised ads, she increased her reach by 40 per cent.

One of the benefits of studying through this platform is that the learners get to learn at their own pace. Videos are shared and viewed later.

Children enjoy this new form of learning. The aspect of wonder and surprise is seen in the child. Since they are children they do not know how to lie, if they do not like something they will say it,” Shindu says.

Aside from children enjoying this new form of learning, she adds, parents say their children's performance has improved and they have become more confident.

Shindu encourages women and girls in science not to relent but face the challenges thrown at them.

She says they should ignore the negative comments thrown their way as the sky is the limit.