Turbine has the immense pleasure to incubate Katapult, a start-up promoting game-based learning experiences in robotics and coding. Jade Li, Founder of Katapult shares her new journey with us.
Jade, tell us about you and why you have started this new venture.
I like to think of myself as a maker, I make things to solve problems. I’ve always liked to make things with my hands as a kid. I would make personalized greeting cards, I would recycle my jeans to make bags and I loved watching DIY videos. When it came time for me to go to university, it felt right to go into engineering because I wanted to solve the problems and challenges of the world. I studied Bioengineering at Imperial College London and then went on to work in the medical device industry in Mauritius.
As a working adult, I realized that the majority of people are not comfortable with the idea of change and that most of them never really challenge the way things are. In my quest to solve this problem, I have found that what our country lacks is a culture of innovation. As kids, we are all curious and we ask all kinds of questions. However in the Mauritian culture, where failure is a taboo, adults are often afraid of asking questions and they lose this curiosity. I began to question myself: how can adults keep this child-like wonder? and how can we incorporate this culture of innovation to the Mauritian culture?
As I dug deeper, I began to analyse the Mauritian education system. The teacher to student ratio is on average 1:40 and often children don’t get the attention they need to learn properly. I went to school in Mauritius, I learned mostly alphabets and numbers and I never questioned it. But today as an adult working in Mauritius, I realize that me and my fellow classmates never learned to think critically. The more I talked to people from other countries, I realized that they also had a similar experience with school. This is why I believe that innovation starts in the playroom. If we can get children interested and curious about solving problems, that would be a great start. We can then cultivate this interest to empower them to become future problem-solvers and change-makers.
What is Katapult?
I started Katapult to address this gap in our education system. Katapult provides game-based learning experiences in robotics and coding to develop the children’s computational thinking but most importantly to show them that they can actually change the world. Katapult is also an initiative to encourage young people to go into STEAM (Science, Technology, Engineering, Arts and Mathematics).
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If you are in the age range 7-18, then Katapult is for you. At Katapult, we believe in learning by doing and playing. We try to make our workshops as interactive as possible. We incorporate games, storytelling and real-life applications in our sessions. We encourage the children to be curious and to ask as many questions as they want. We also encourage them to experiment and test any idea they might have.
Share with us your experiences with Turbine till now.
I’ve had this idea for two years now and I never really knew how or where to start. With the Test Drive programme, it was the perfect opportunity to test if the idea could be a viable business. By going through this programme, I came to experience what a supportive community Turbine is and I felt that I needed this to start my business. This is what initially drew me to Turbine and I am now on the Incubation programme.
I like the structure that it gives me. I feel that without structure, that is goals and deadlines, we can accomplish so much and nothing at the same time. Every week, I meet with my coach Aysha to discuss the path to achieve my goals for the year. We define the tasks that I need to do for the week and we discuss if my business is actually going in the direction that I want it to. This has been very helpful in my entrepreneurial journey.
I also like the diversity of people that I get to meet at Turbine. It is very inspiring and exciting to meet the people who might change how the world is now!
Tell us about your future plans for Katapult.
The upcoming plans for Katapult are to develop more workshops and to deliver them in different regions of the island. I would also like to have workshops that tackle a broad range of fields like space exploration, agriculture, medicine, and even transport! On the 16 February, I will host a workshop at Turbine called Thirsty Meter. Children from 7 to 11 will be able to build their own plant moisture sensor so they know when to water their plants.
How can people keep in touch with Katapult?
People can learn more about Katapult on its website: www.katapult.mu and stay connected via
Facebook – https://www.facebook.com/katapult.mu/
Instagram – https://www.instagram.com/katapult.mu/