Kide Science, STEAM Education has never been so cool


November 17, 2020
Nazia Khaleque

Kide Science is a Finnish startup providing STEAM Education Platform for Early Childhood, winner of the first edition of CBN Play & Learn challenge.

Tuesday 10 November 2020, 8 startups from all over the world challenged each other for CBN Play & Learn, pitching in front of investors. Sari Hurme-Mehtälä from Kide Science was the best performer and here she shares her impressions along with her co-founders Jenni Vartiainen and Aino Kuronen. Next chance to meet CBN Play & Learn community is Monday 30 November at 15:30 CET. Signup here today.

CBN: So, you’re the winner of CBN Play & Learn challenge: congratulations! What does it mean to be a Play & Learn startup and how do you position yourself within the edtech and/or gaming ecosystem?

We claim that good quality education sees a child in a holistic way. Children are whole persons in their developmental stages with their interests, emotions, and needs for rich social interaction and acceptance. There is not existing one magical approach or application to learning that could serve all purposes of education. Education is always about interaction: rich interaction that happens between children and teachers and between peers can’t be overlooked. Eventually, the teacher is a key person to define what kind of interaction and activities and in which learning environments happen in a classroom. To help teachers create interaction and learning environments that support children’s holistic development Play & Learn startups should understand the research and learning theories behind education. We position ourselves as a startup whose technology is pedagogy. In practice, that means our pedagogy is based on a five-year research project and a wide research review. In addition, we constantly conduct scientific research about our pedagogical approach and refine it. We are proud to say that we are a top quality pedagogical solution in early science education that helps teachers to create learning environments for young children so that children’s needs to play, wonder, interact and children’s right to be noted as a whole are carefully considered. Still, our solution can’t answer all the needs that early childhood education has, so we invite all kinds of Play & Learn startups to collaborate. Together we can create a better education for all.

CBN: One of the greatest challenges for Play & Learn startups is to make their solutions cross-cultural. Coming from Finland, the world benchmark for pedagogy, how did you manage to make your solutions market fit for other countries, such as Asia for instance?

Children born with strong inner curiosity to explore and experiment with how the world functions. This can be seen as an endless curiosity and tendency to ask questions and engage in wondering. In addition, children all over the world learn naturally by playing. We combine the world-wide characteristics of young children and use them as a base for our pedagogical solution. By changing attention from the teacher’s point of view to children’s point of view we can use children’s curiosity and wonder as a guiding force and build play-based learning environments in which children can learn about daily scientific phenomena they find attractive. Furthermore, science is culture-free in the sense that most scientific phenomena are observable in all places on Earth: the blue color of the sky, gravity, floating and sinking, and water solubility, for instance. The cornerstones of Kide Science pedagogy are dramatic role-play, stories that tickle the imagination, and child-centered inquiry-based learning practices. Consequently, children feel like playing along with the story and exploring together with other children and adults while they are learning science process skills and experiencing scientific concepts through active engagement. We don’t push children into the world of science but we gently merge science into the world of children. That’s the power why our solution is so easily applied in different cultures.

CBN: Teaching STEAM to kids is not an easy mission and you’re a company founded by women. Actually, one of the big issues in learning innovation is how can we make girls interested in science and how can we do that generating a relevant impact on a relevant number of individuals worldwide?

Lack of interest in science among girls is a manifold issue. One corner to start unfolding is to consider what kind of possibilities girls are offered to get interested in science. Interest is tightly connected to identity. Identity starts development during the early years: children construct the idea of themselves by identifying what they enjoy, what they are interested in, what they are good at. It’s partly hidden cultural praxis that we tend to offer boys more opportunities to engage in science and technology activities than girls. This is not due to children’s choice but how adults steer children’s ideas of what they should be interested in. When children are young, boys and girls are equally interested in scientific phenomena. The difference starts cumulating from the messages that the surrounding culture sends. Still today, when people are asked what scientists are like, the majority describes a scientist as a male with extraordinary intellectual skills. This is a very narrow image of who is capable of doing science. Meanwhile, we know that the world is full of different kinds of scientists with different looks, temperaments and ages. Girls should have more role models in public discussions to relate with. To sum, to support girls’ interest in science, adults should allow young girls to build interest in science by letting them act with science-related activities. It’s impossible to get interested in something you have never had the opportunity to try!

CBN: When you found a startup, one of the difficulties is to spend quality time with your peers: experts, investors, startup founders who not only have this role but also share the same passion for your specific industry or sector. What do you expect from CBN Play & Learn, as a community?

We have been lucky and it has helped us to have investors from the education sector and that we have been active in different networks around startups, edtech and the education sector. With these kinds of communities like CBN Play & Learn, we also see great opportunities to connect with new cooperation partners and be with other early adopters of new innovations around Play & Learn. For example, we already have seen great discussions with people from this community and are already planning some joint cooperations for the continued research and implementations in new regions. Happy to be part of this community.

Researcher Jenni Vartiainen, teacher Aino Kuronen and business person Sari Hurme-Mehtälä founded Kide Science in December 2017 due to the huge demand brought about by the popularity after the empirical research of a new innovative pedagogical model for playful science education for young children. Do you want to read more about Kide Science? Check

Sari Hurme-Mehtälä
Co-founder, CEO
CEO & Co-founder of Kide Science & Board member of Nordic Edtech Network N8. She has 15 years of business experience globally and locally from big companies´ marketing and sales lead positions but felt that she wanted to do something more meaningful, especially with children, after becoming a mother of two little scientists.

Jenni Vartiainen
Co-founder, Researcher
Researcher & Co-founder of Kide Science, and is working as a researcher and university lecturer at Tampere University. Her research concerns science education at all levels of education. The main focus of research is on early childhood science education and play-based approaches to STEAM education. Kide Science pedagogy is based on her Doctoral Thesis.

Aino Kuronen

Co-founder, COO
COO & Co-founder of Kide Science, and a teacher for primary years. She is enthusiastic about how play and storytelling can work as a powerful tool to make learning engaging. You can see Aino also at a Science TV-show called ”Tiedonjyvä” (The seed of knowledge), which is all about making STEAM approachable for young children.

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