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  • With very basic materials you can actually run experiments.

  • Komal Dadlani is the 30-year-old co-founder and CEO of Lab4U,

  • a start-up that's trying to come up with a new formula for teaching science.

  • We see that there's a problem in science education around the world,

  • especially in Latin America and many other emerging markets where schools don't have lab equipment.

  • So what we do is we leverage something that is very accessible today, which is smartphones and tablets.

  • There are more than five billion smartphones in the world today

  • and they're packed full of sensors and processing power.

  • Komal says that makes them the perfect home for science experiments anytime, anywhere.

  • Smartphones are accessible to everyone.

  • These are springs, easily accessible,

  • masking tape,

  • a toy car.

  • These are easy to use, easy to access materials.

  • So here we are selecting our samples.

  • Komal showed us how she turned her phone's camera into a colorimeter,

  • analyzing the intensity of color samples in beakers.

  • By taking just a picture of that with your phone,

  • it plots it instantly on a graph and then you can sort of see if for yourself.

  • A traditional colorimeter, for example, can cost between $300 and $500 dollars.

  • A smartphone, well, it's already in many students' pockets.

  • Komal co-founded the company at the age of 24 after getting her masters in biochemistry in Chile,

  • where she would often leave class feeling frustrated.

  • My classes were very theoretical, and they were not as engaging as I would like them to be.

  • And then I would visit schools in Chile and they did not have labs.

  • And that frustration led me to say, "This has to change."

  • But then how do you make it actually happen?

  • So, there were many tipping points because it's not easy.

  • We were in a school back in the early days when we started Lab4U.

  • Our design was not that good.

  • And there was a student that actually threw the phone to my face and said, "I'm not going to do this."

  • So Lab4U partnered with social game developer Zynga,

  • which helped make the apps more like, you guessed it, a game.

  • But it took us at least five years to get there.

  • You have to raise funding. You have to test. You have to be okay with failure.

  • Not everything is going to be perfect in the beginning.

  • Lab4U is hoping to follow in the footsteps of other successful learning apps like Duolingo and Udemy.

  • And it's not a bad sector to be in.

  • The mobile learning market is expected to reach $70 billion by 2024.

  • But Komal's goals go beyond just making money.

  • She hopes to spark kids' interest in science in Latin America,

  • where the number of students receiving degrees in STEM; science, technology, engineering and math,

  • lags behind other regions in the world like the EU and the U.S.

  • Globally there's also a gap in the number of women pursuing careers in STEM compared to men.

  • Under 30% of researchers worldwide are women, a problem Komal calls the "STEM-leaking pipeline."

  • The truth is that we are as good as boys when it comes to science and mathematics and engineering.

  • Lab4U is now used by over 100,000 students and 20,000 teachers in 20 countries.

  • Pricing starts at $15 per semester per student.

  • Komal's best lesson in how to keep students engaged?

  • Trying to make science fun.

  • You never said, "Page 245 of that textbook that changed my life."

  • It's normally the experience, the teacher that changes your perception and the way you think.

  • That's why for us the experience is so important.

With very basic materials you can actually run experiments.

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A 24-year-old entrepreneur was bored in science class so she started a company | CNBC Make It

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    kstmasa posted on 2019/09/25
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