ChileSocial entrepreneurshipUSAWomen in Leadership

An app that transforms science and the way we think of education

Why do we still think textbooks should be the primary source of knowledge for children?

Estimated reading time: 3 minutes, 20 seconds.

Podcast Lab4U

In my home today and let me emphasize that smartphones are forbidden in most elementary and high schools. The number one medium of education is still the textbook. It is a total waste not to take advantage of the supercomputers that we have in our pockets and even more so to forbid their use completely.

Luckily, there are innovators in the world that do not accept the status quo such as Komal Dadlani co-founder of Lab4U who originally kick-started her journey with Startup Chile.  Menna and I spoke to Komal in January 2019 about her ideas. Komal recognized the gap in the educational sector where the majority of schools around the world do not have access to proper science labs that are able to teach children about physics and chemistry. Komal and her team came up with a value proposition to bring science into every class room building through the technological features embedded in our smartphones. Soon they realized that the challenge is much bigger than just designing an app.

“Today smartphones have more computing power than the computer that took the man to the moon. Why not leverage that technology?”

Think big but start small

With the initial seed funding from Startup Chile, Komal and her team at Lab4U were able to design an app that was capable of taking advantage of the tools that the smartphone inherently provides such as an accelerometer, a sonometer, a speedometer, and a camera. The Lab4U team figured out how to take advantage of these tools in a way that empowers students all over the world.

I admire her for her relentless pursuit to build a game-changing app that empowers youth.

Isn’t it crazy that in most countries in the world a lot is missing but most people still have access to smartphones? What was unthinkable a decade ago is totally normal almost everywhere today. So why don’t we take advantage of it?

Roadblocks ahead

Clearly, we need more than just an app to transform the educational sector. One of the major aspects that Lab4U team needs to deal with is changing the mindset of school teachers. They are the driving force of education everywhere. The goal is to empower them regardless of their age and background so they can take advantage of mobile devices and drive change.

Lab4U is operating in a tough sector where the successful collaboration with the ministries of education and having the endorsement of the political leadership is key in facilitating the adoption of their solution. In this vein, Lab4U is moving forward with the government of the Dominican Republic in finalizing Lab4U for schools in the Dominican Republic.  Moreover, the Inter-American Development Bank commissioned Lab4U to conduct an impact assessment on the learning of physics through technology among upper secondary education students in Sinaloa, Mexico.

The results from Lab4U show that the consistent utilization of the app Lab4Physics leads to improved student´s attitude toward physics as well as better performance in the covered area of knowledge.

“We need to change our mindset not only in Mexico but all over the world and we need to do it now!”

A real business model

Most of us might think that a social project gives services away for the good of the world and for free. To be a social business, however, also means that revenue needs to be created to keep the operations running so that a business can sustain itself. To do that Komal and her team designed a system whereby the school, the district or even the ministry of education pays for the license of theLab4U app.

Lab4U in 1 min.

Our idea that developing countries don’t have resources is actually flawed. Schools have a budget but they don’t spend it on the right things. Schools all over the world buy millions of textbooks every year. Is that still necessary? I personally think that textbooks could still give some insight as an additional resource. However, the real education should be done with our new technologies such as smartphones. They can be utilized even in developing countries. Technologies such as VR are slowly emerging in developed countries. Check out Late Nite Labs which builds a virtual reality experience for education.

The future is looking bright. Let’s focus on the positive and support these great ideas out there!

3rd February 2019

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