• Will we finally manage to make children interested in chemistry?

    The number of students interested in studying natural sciences is still decreasing. Obviously, something’s not right! Chemistry is definitely the least favorite, despite the fact that nowadays, it’s the foundation of all our consumer areas. The children don’t see the logic in it, the volume of “pointless” theory bores them. The two Slovakia’s SIA winners 2015, Adrián Hegedűš and Ivana Kravárová, came up with an original way how to change the situation. They realized that the simplest way to study and learn is to do so by playing games. The result is their brand new didactic game ChemPlay.

    Chemplay_1“We spent more than a year developing the game. Then we spent another one testing the game at Slovak and Czech both middle and high schools. We also presented it at various official conferences, aiming to get the most valuable feedback – from the professors. Fascinating and motivational was the interest it aroused. It was an indication that the desire to solve the question of children tuition isn’t important just to us and that the game is truly demanded amongst the teachers. The teachers, children and parents value above all the fact, that the game allows no plain memorizing. It requires parallel use and development of logical, analytical, combinatorial and creative thinking while also improving teamwork skills.

    The probations proved this way’s effectiveness. The children were suddenly much more active and the boring theory was suddenly neither boring, nor theory. It managed to keep them focused for the whole 45 minutes long class, which, until then, required the teacher to have unachievable skills and authority. Numerous kids got more than just motivated, they began asking questions to unravel some more advanced curriculum.

    Thanks to the success at various conferences, presentations and probations we gathered the courage to attend some competitions. The award of the Faculty of natural sciences of the Comenius University at the festival of science and technology, organized by AMAVET and advance to the international expo ESI 2015 in Brussels were an immense encouragement, followed by more awards and victories, for example the victory at the Bravo vědě competition, which took place in Pardubice, Czech Republic.

    Chemplay_2However, we also wanted to gather some feedback from the businessmen concerning the market success potential of our project. Therefore, we attended some business-related competitions, such as Social Impact Award Slovakia 2015, which we won, and the prestigious competition Nápad roku 2015, where we were scored the special EKONOM Student podnikatel award and got the 5th place overall.

    A huge experience was also the summer SIA bootcamp in Vienna, where we got to see other amazing projects from all around the Europe and get some other valuable feedback. Another great success of our project is being featured at the Slovak map of social innovators, accompanied by such names as our president Andrej Kiska, Zuzana Wienk from the Alliance Fair-play or the pals from OCTAGO, who won the SIA as well.

    We closed the 2015 with 2nd place which gave us free membership (and much more!) at Impact Incubator, organized by Impact HUB, Bratislava. Meanwhile we attended dozens of amazing mentoring events that helped us a lot in the terms of organization, project realization and a general idea what should our next steps be. We also have a new webpage with the order form thanks to the mentors. It was the next stage of our project’s evaluation and verification whether it can survive on the market.

    It was a correct step. Within the first two verification weeks we acquired orders both by schools and individuals. With the verified demand for ChemPlay, the thought of starting the production and distribution came to our heads. We already gained the theoretical knowledge by the mentors, but it was a great challenge anyway. We had to apply the theory, find the correct sponsors, get them excited and interested. It’s not easy, but we’re almost there. What brought us even closer, was the decision to try the crowdfunding via Center for philanthropy in Bratislava.

    Chemplay_3Our tiny project has grown a little throughout the time. We got contacted by Czech companies that want to distribute our game in Czech Republic. Given this, and the excited reactions of Czech teachers, we couldn’t but recreate the game to be bilingual. This, however, caused a little more ambitious budget as the starter pack of money needs to be a bit bigger. We’re proud and happy that in 50 days of the campaign, we managed to have raised 112% of the goal amount, which brought us one more step closer to the finalization and first production. Having circa 170 orders sure bears obligations and responsibility, but also an encouragement that our effort is not just wasting time.

    It is overwhelming to hear these reactions of teachers, like “the change of mood is evident. The bored youth is all of a sudden overflowing with questions, they contemplate, they help each other, but mainly, they think creatively…”, but to know that the game will travel to over 40 Slovak schools is even better. Our goals, however, exceed the boundaries of Slovakia. Chemistry works the same all over the world, thus we aim to expand within Europe and maybe once even within the whole world.

    ChemPlay is just the beginning. Our objective is to build a set of didactic games able to playfully teach the basics of natural sciences and motivate children to study them.

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