NordicBaltic.Tech tracks the technology response to Covid-19 across the Nordic-Baltic region. The platform is made in partnership between the Nordic Council of Ministers and PUBLIC. We spoke to Jenni Vartiainen, Founder of Finnish Kide Science about how her pedagogy research into how young children learn has influenced the technology her startup uses.   

The journey from learning to building   

“Kide Science was born around the results of my scientific research on how young children can learn science in a playful learning environment. The five-year study about young children’s playful science education started at the University of Helsinki. The data was collected from young children’s science clubs. Club environment allowed testing the most creative ways to introduce science for young children and the playful model for early science education was produced. During this research period, the clubs had gained such strong popularity among families that they wanted more. To answer the huge demand to organise science clubs all over Finland, the idea of establishing a company rose. Aino Kuronen, the 2nd founder of Kide Science, had worked as a science club teacher and a co-developer of the playful science education model from the very beginning of the project. She jumped in as a co-founder of the company.” 

“However, quite soon we realised that the company needed someone who strives after thinking about budgets and quick scaling. We started searching for a business-minded person to join our team. This is when 3rd founder of Kide Science, Sari Hurme-Mehtälä came into the picture. Sari proved to be just the person we needed. Our company scaled quickly all around Finland and in just half a year of operation we were an international company and now growing in 14 countries.”

The pedagogical research impacting EdTech innovation  

Kide Science is a startup based on scientific research. PhD Jenni Vartiainen researched how to connect early years science education and imagination-driven play.

“One output of the research was a pedagogical model that understands early science education as a unity of imagination, play, children’s questions, and hands-on approach. During the research, the model was tested and refined in young children’s science clubs. The clubs were so popular, and parents insisted on having more that kind of activity for children that we decided to establish a company to spread this phenomenal model all over the world. The research plays a remarkable role in the further development of the model and Kide activities. There are plenty of learning solutions in the sector that have a very thin understanding of complex science that lays behind learning. We base all our development work on science, and we study regularly what kind of impacts our products have in different cultures and environments.   

On the other hand, research has a significant impact on what kind of education we want to establish in kindergartens. Drill-based rote-learning of information is something that we don’t count on.”

“We base our learning philosophy on the socio-cultural learning theories that understand learning as a social and cultural process and are affected by people and their interaction. The child is not seen as a target of educating but a capable agent of a learning process”.

Educational challenges  

“In March, the Finnish Government declared a state of emergency restricting the movement of people and the closing down of schools. EdTech startups from Finland gathered quickly to offer free apps and resources to support distance learning in schools affected by the coronavirus outbreak. For example Koulu.me and Teach Millions. But by April, the government presented an updated hybrid strategy for exiting the crisis and gradually opening up society. The plan included, among other measures the reopening of Schools from the 14th of May”.

Bringing parents onboard  

“Covid-19 has opened up a possibility to strengthen parents’ involvement, and that is why we developed our educator platform to be suitable also for parents at home with kids. Research clearly states that understanding children’s living environment is essential in designing teaching and learning. Parents are the best experts in their children”.

“Hearing parent’s voices and having them participate in their child’s education is very important. We see that we need many more solutions that bridge learning across kindergarten and home environments”.  

Meeting a growing demand for EdTech  

“There is now a growing demand for excellent EdTech solutions, especially for remote learning. We see early childhood education as a highly attractive market segment with significant growth prospects and lucrative opportunities for scalable solution providers like Kide Science. Kide Science stands out because of its very strong pedagogical proposition and outstanding multidisciplinary team with a strong research background”.

About Kide Science  

Kide Science develops young children’s scientific thinking skills through engaging hands-on experiments that solve real science problems. A proven pedagogical method predicts better learning outcomes in school and is based on years of rigorous academic research conducted by Founder Jenni Vartiainen, PhD. Its scalable online platform provides teachers and parents with training and lesson materials to lead hands-on, playful STEAM education for 3–8-year-olds.