Tuesday , 21 November 2017

This Pune Based Edtech Startup Is Transforming Education to Next Level Through Experiential Approach

We are publishing an interview of Mr. Parag S. Gore, Founder, Box of Science.

Please tell us about your startup journey
The beginning was from Ahmednagar. It all started with an idea to aware people around us about latest developments in science. The year was 2003 and I was in 10th standard. There was news in newspaper about possible visibility of International Space Station (ISS) by naked eyes. I went through number of books and magazines to find more about ISS. I found not more than few picture in an old magazine. Internet was not available as easily as now back then. In Ahmednagar, there were few internet café. So I went to some place and downloaded information. The night came and we saw a small dot passing over a starry background. For us that was nothing like anything. I gathered tens of friends told them about what we were going to observe. All were so astonished that I could understand gravity of communicating knowledge of unknown things.

So I discussed with friends and we started a science communication group. We started with public lectures on Astronomy, organizing talks of Scientists, slide shows, sky observation programs, science festivals in schools etc. All of the volunteers made it possible to reach hundreds of students in those days.

After passing 12th I was more drawn into science popularization. And started writing articles series for news papers. One of my article series , VigyanVarta, was running for more than 100 weeks. Apart from this I wrote number of episodes for Akashwani (Explaining about miracles of the Universe).

My dream back then was to become an Astrophysicist. So I took admission and graduated as a Physics student. As my project, I made a telescope in B.Sc.

After completing my graduation I got admission for M.Sc. in Pune University. My stream was Instrumentation Science. To this time I have successfully completed 5 years as a science communicator.

Parag S. Gore, Founder, Box of Science

Parag S. Gore, Founder, Box of Science

During this journey my inclination shifted from being Astrophysicist to something else. With increased understanding of scenario I decided to build career in ‘Science Communication’. I held number of training programs for teachers and kids during these years. Most of them were focused on ‘Activity Based Science Education’.

Somewhere I realized that there is a huge gap between talent and skills, knowledge and actuation within kids. A kid with 95% cannot even tie a thread even though we instruct him/her. So though we have talented young minds there is a lack of skillful education system. To change this scenario I decided to start an institute which could develop cognitive levels of a kid with ‘Hands on activities’.

Providing Hands on Experience to students is a verified method for their growth, analytical skills and logical thinking. It is accepted as a proper education method in many developed countries. Activity based learning helps in boosting creativity and confidence. School child is fascinated with pool of thoughts, high energy. We don’t want them to lose it over violent video games or Television.

After completion of M.sc. I have joined a firm as science trainer. But shortly I quit the job and started ‘Science in Action Club’ for training and developing resources on ‘Experiential Education’. Soon we developed number of kits and programs under title of ‘Box of Science’. We have decided back then to contact schools and educational institutions for spreading this culture of Activity Based Education.

What is the problem you are trying to solve? Can you share with us any insights that led you to believe that this is a big enough problem? 
I am sharing those details.

We found following problem/gaps:
– Lack of experiential education and educators
– Dearth of effective teaching/learning tools
– Gap between talent and skills

Why Activity Based Education:
– Skilling future generations
– Boosting confidence in children
– Communicating latest developments in science
– Reducing unemployment
– Improving standard of living through wealth

Skilling future generations

Bringing people into mainstream is of utmost important. Most of the developing countries are struggling with skill development in their youth population. There is no dearth of information, but the way to convert knowledge into skill sets. Unless we skill our people, they might not be able to earn living.

Though the literacy rates are moving towards high end of the graph, unemployment is not behind. Underemployment has also risen over years. Amidst of huge gap between job seekers and those who create them, the situation may worsen in future.

What we need today is a scientific method to educate our kids. This will help in skillful human resource. If somehow we manage to give them confidence that they can create something, we will succeed in generating ‘Job-Creators’. We need more teachers with passion to inculcate experiential education.

What is the uniqueness about your Startup? 
Box of Science LogoAt Box of Science, we believe that education has power to transform any nation and all earthlings. But the way of educating little curious sparkles needs to be revamped. Current system lacks in many ways.

  • One of that is experiential approach. Hence we have dedicated our efforts to transform it.
  • Devoted activists from our team have designed diverse activities to nurture curious minds.
  • Providing Hands on Experience to students is a verified method for their growth, analytical skills and logical thinking. It is accepted as a proper education method in many developed countries. Activity based learning helps in boosting creativity and confidence.
  • School child is fascinated with pool of thoughts, high energy. We don’t want them to lose it over violent video games or Television.
  • We believe that every child is special and if nurtured with excellent hands they will be the best citizens of India and perhaps the world.Our team is committed to produce every aspect of education with Excellency. We will continue to inspire young generations through our efforts and experiential culture.

Our Vision
Box of Science is a movement, born out of social work that we are doing since a decade. It is a fire of change started by young and enthusiastic rebels. We believe that education is the only way to transform human civilization. We are calculating all possible ways to cultivate more productive model of education.

Our mission is to empower our generations with confidence that they can create something, they can lead the world. The education that we are providing today is generating platoons of clerks. Reason for that is lack of Learning-by-Doing approach.We want to change this. With our efforts we envision an idea, the possibility of transformation.
Join our movement for Inspiring Young Minds of the India.

Designing and developing Educational kits and resources

Education First
Since dawn of our civilization on this planet, we have directed our growth on the foundation of the education.
Educating next generation plays vital role in our evolution and persistence to survive. But as we can see somehow; we are losing or we have lost RADAR that points to ideal direction.

Education for passing exams and getting jobs is mere one way to look at it. Education can be more than that. At Box of Science we innovate ways to nurture curious little geniuses, and we believe that education comes first for any transformation to be achieved.

What is the revenue model? Explain your thought process.
Following are our products and services:
1. Teachers training program
2. Designing and developing Educational kits and resources
3. Science and Robotics Workshops in schools and engineering colleges
4. Developing our own centers across cities in India – “Box of Science Hub’
5. Manufacturing Do-It-Yourself Kits – ‘Box of Science’ Kits

Who are the consumers that you are targeting? How is this going to affect them? 
Potentially, every house with a kid could be our transformation nodes. Apart from that schools, coaching institutes, day care centers, kindergartens are some of the places where we can provide our services.

We are planning to start our own centers which will cater as a hub of science education. At ‘Box of Science’ centers we are planning to launch weekly programs. These programs then will be offered on franchised basis to other ‘Activity Partners’.

For selling kits, we are focusing on developing sellers’ network in phased manner. Sellers will act as our nodal points of marketing as well.

Science and Robotics Workshops in schools and engineering colleges

We can never change existing situation with tools that are already out there. In order to bring fresh transformation, a completely new model is required. There are few American and European universities where we see parking slots for Nobel laureates . And in our nation we are going through a drought like situation when it comes to research and development. There are two types of nations. One that innovates while the others are followers of that progress. We are still in second category. To propel our nation into a role of creators, we need to change the way we educate out gen-next. There is no dearth of talent in India. We fail on a front where the thrust to this intellect is necessary.

Our modern education follows a clerical culture. If we look at ancient times, the way we used to educate young ones was thoroughly activity based. The outcome of that could be seen with gigantic advancements in areas of Astronomy, Physics, Mathematics, Chemistry, Yoga, Ayurveda and what not. The same approach is need of time. The transformation I would like to suggest will come through experiential learning.

If we inculcate habit of hands on education, it will take no time for Indian talent to lead the world. I dream a day when Indian brands and products would be used worldwide with craze, our innovations would lead the
humanity in that future.

Developing our own centers across cities in India – “Box of Science Hub’

One of the most efficient model could be teachers orientation workshops. If we succeed in equipping them with suitable teaching aids, we can accelerate the process. A holistic use of information-communication technology have potential to bring the desired transformation.
To make it happen, we have to start now. There is necessity to enhance our teaching methods, our classroom practices. The culture of activity based education should reach at towns and village levels as well. Because test of our progress is not when we add to those plates which are full, but when we serve those who have little. Two third of our country lives in suburbs. So we must start from grass root level.

What is the big picture of your startup? Will it lead to something bigger? If so, how? 
Future for education sector is very bright. It is a noble service to nation as well. We have dreamt for a huge picture, where we will be contributing to education sector at large.

  • First step for us to set up our centers at important locations and cities across India. This will help us to promote activity based education at large scale.
  • We have also planned to launch more innovative kits every quarter.
  • Yes it will definitely lead to something bigger, with our honest and qualitative efforts.

What is the success story of your startup in your own words? 
In the initial stages we had scarcity of funds and resources. As there were very few people in science activities, we had to develop our own structure. We had to go through all the possible sources of information. Finally we succeeded in developing around 50 activities which were mapped with school syllabus of major boards around various states (Including CBSE,ICSE etc.).

Currently we have more than 200 activities in Science, robotics, astronomy and other fields. After developing programs we had to reach schools and parents. Paying capacity for things other than academic entities is bit secondary for our society. Hence we had to find ways to reduce cost of our kits and programs. We did that effectively. Hence many of the schools accepted our version of science education. We are serving in rural areas as well hence all of our programs need to be developed twice to suit rural income groups. This caused a lot of brain storming and research.

This Pune Based Edtech Startup Is Transforming Education to Next Level Through Experiential Approach

There came number of days when we had to just sit and revisit our plans, strategies due to setbacks. But something inside pushes me again to stand and explore new directions, to keep exploring what we have started.

I believe that – we make living by what we earn but we make life by what we give. We are here for a very blink of a time. And if we live this span without contributing to life forms on this planet, our existence is in vein. If you ask yourself, why we are here? What could be the most valuable addition we can have to this world? The answer zeroes in at, sharing…sharing knowledge. Its like passing of baton, of wisdom that we acquire during our journey on this planet.

So here is the goal, mine goal.

  • To assist our future generation in reaching their best.
  • Most efficient way to do that is to cherish their creativity, imagination and hands on activity promotion. It not only boosts their curiosity but whole attitude.

Any other information about your startup that you would like to share with us.
Sure. I want to share the statistics since beginning. Here are they:
1. Reached more than 50,000 students so far through events
2. Conducted workshops in more than 100 schools
3. Teachers trained so far – 1000+
4. Last Year:
– Reached 17 schools
– 5000+ children in Pune alone
5. Held CSR projects for number of organizations like TATA, SAMPARC Balgram, Snehalaya, Smriti Pratishthan, ISKON, Aranyanand etc.
6. Got affiliation with Vigyan Prasar’s VIPNET


Thanks Parag. Best of luck!

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