One of the most valuable things we can give to a child is education. A science education, in particular, is important because every aspect of our everyday lives revolves around scientific concepts. From the technologies we use to the public policy decisions we make to the natural world that surrounds us, scientific data and evidence explains and provides. More importantly, the scientific method teaches students how to think critically, solve problems, evaluate solutions and make informed decisions, all of which are crucial soft-skills to have to succeed in life.
These days, as teaching methods evolve and school curriculums improve around the world, many teachers are beginning to adopt innovative techniques of science instruction to advance science education and promote student learning as a whole. One such method is through the use of videos and audiovisual materials as they’ve been proven to aid students’ knowledge retention by helping them visualise concepts better, making it particularly relevant for the sciences.
However, not all online scientific education material sources are created equal. Some specialise in very niche areas of science, while some others only target students of a certain age group. Nevertheless, all-rounded channels do exist and one of the best ones out there is a YouTube channel called Just keep Thinking.
WHAT IS JUST KEEP THINKING ABOUT?
Just keep Thinking is an up-and-rising Singaporean YouTube Channel that produces engaging educational videos about science. It is especially known for its videos about biodiversity, which introduces different species of animals and explains their scientific characteristics in fun, digestible ways, making these videos highly suitable for children.
In one of their most-watched videos, Just keep Thinking collaborated with experts at the Herpetological Society of Singapore to introduce different types of snakes that can be spotted in local nature reserves with the aim of cultivating an appreciation for local biodiversity. In another, Just keep Thinking explained the differences between bacteria and viruses with the aim of educating people (amidst the covid-19 pandemic) that antibacterial soaps are no more effective than regular soaps for killing disease-causing germs, working to prevent the panic-buying of antibacterial soaps.
Just keep Thinking also uploads bite-sized scientific facts on their instagram page so that students can learn fun facts on the go, and even hosts exciting games on their facebook page to make learning interactive and enjoyable.
WHY ARE JUST KEEP THINKING VIDEOS SO EFFECTIVE?
What sets Just Keep Thinking apart is the refreshing way it presents its content. Their educational videos resemble trendy vlogs, which engage students effectively. The use of bubbly subtitles makes the scientific terms look less intimidating. The colourful diagrams in their videos are also very helpful as studies have shown that a large majority of children are visual learners. Especially in their biodiversity videos, the high quality footage of wildlife in nature reserves make some areas that are not normally accessible easily available for students to observe and learn from.
Most importantly, all of Just keep Thinking’s videos go above and beyond to demonstrate how the scientific concepts ultimately translate into practical application in everyday life, so that students understand and appreciate why they are learning what they are learning.
SHARING THE GOODNESS TO DEVELOPING COMMUNITIES
Scientific knowledge is universal and, so should science education. However, there are many children in less privileged communities around the world who lack access to trained teachers, adequate learning materials and even proper facilities to reap the benefits of a robust science education. This is why the United Nations has ranked the need to increase the accessibility of quality education as one of the top 5 priorities in their list of Sustainable Development Goals, calling for action by all countries, poor, rich and middle-income alike.
Just keep Thinking has stepped up to answer this call. Besides regularly collaborating with organisations to create interesting educational content about science, Just keep Thinking also collaborates with The Patatas, a social solutions consultancy, to bring quality science education to disadvantaged communities and children in developing countries in Asia and Africa. They do so by making their educational videos easily accessible to students there.
BRIDGING THE GAP
You may be wondering: how exactly do you achieve this in a rural community with less than desirable school infrastructure and virtually non-existent internet access? Will this solution even be sustainable?
This is where The Patatas comes in to fill the gap. We work closely with our partners for worthy social causes, and aid them in their formulation of technology-based solutions. We are driven by our Mission of using technology in innovative and efficient ways, and the vision of ultimately bringing about positive changes in communities through technology based solutions. With a firm belief in collaboration, we take the time to understand their partners’ needs before developing solutions that complement their partners’ operations. It is through such projects that we are able to form an expansive network with many partners, finding the best possible ways to fill the gap in the communities we work with.
Some of our previous projects include Digi-Eskwela where we brought e-learning to remote villages in Asia through the use of applications and tablets. We are particularly proud of that project as it has resulted in an impressive 30% improvement in class numeracy and literacy capabilities. We also brought art therapy sessions to help children and mothers in disadvantaged communities to overcome trauma. Recognising the power of music education, we also implemented Little UkeBox to provide ukulele lessons to children in order to encourage their all-rounded development.
ENTERS CASESTUDY, A PATATAS SOLUTION
One of our ongoing projects is CaseStudy. Through a detailed survey, designers here at The Patatas had observed that a key challenge was the logistical complexity of bringing educational technology into developing areas where there is an acute lack of infrastructure. Any existing facilities are also extremely vulnerable to natural elements such as volcanic eruptions, floods, and typhoons. Inspired and motivated to ensure the provision of quality education in these regions, we created CaseStudy, a highly affordable digital classroom that is built to withstand inhospitable conditions.
As its name suggests, CaseStudy is essentially a classroom in a case designed to increase student engagement in challenging conditions while keeping costs and the number of logistics required as low as possible. The ‘case’ itself is a single waterproof and shockproof briefcase that is easy for users to carry around and, as previously mentioned, sturdy enough to withstand harsh situations such as lack of power supply, connectivity, and natural disasters. Beyond the physical resilience of the product, inside the briefcase contains top-quality software to cater to every teaching and learning needs. CaseStudy houses the Raspberry Pi, a device with functions similar to that of a computer’s CPU. Using Linux as its operating system, CaseStudy has a software that can be fully customised, storing whatever information that may be required for lessons, such as PDF, presentation slides, and educational videos like the ones being produced by Just keep Thinking. It can even connect to a projector and speakers (also components in CaseStudy), allowing the teachers to easily set up a fully-equipped classroom anytime, anywhere, and broadcast audio and visual materials to supplement and liven up their lessons. The portable projector and speakers have their own built-in batteries and can be charged by a portable power bank. There is even a mini version of CaseStudy available if you so wish.
With its unique portability and customizability, CaseStudy caters to the needs of each individual user, and brings to less developed communities the opportunities for quality education. Using the The Patatas’s CaseStudy, science teachers will be able to incorporate Just keep Thinking’s educational videos into their lessons and broadcast them to a large group of audience. Such a collaboration between Just keep Thinking and The Patatas not only makes it possible but also highly feasible to bring top-quality science lessons to all. With its unique resilience and adaptability, CaseStudy is a sustainable solution in bringing to less developed communities the opportunities to reap the benefits of learning the Sciences. These include the development of important problem-solving and analytical skills which will not only help the children become more employable in the future, but also aid them in their personal endeavours throughout their lives. This provides them with the opportunities to realise their full potential, work better jobs and ultimately carve out for themselves a happy life that every person deserves.
The Patatas is currently in discussion with various organisations to bring CaseStudy to communities located in Kenya, Myanmar and Bangladesh.
As our world becomes increasingly technologically and scientifically advanced, children of today need to be scientifically literate to succeed. The lack of accessibility of science education, and education in general, is one of the greatest global challenges to ensuring that children and adolescents are well prepared for life, work and active citizenship.
As one of the best YouTube channels for learning science, Just keep Thinking’s collaboration with technology based solutions providers such as The Patatas can help secure the education of children all over the world, and contribute towards giving them a brighter future.