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Teach the world | TWIN Science on its plans for a global climate education platform

Thu 10 Mar 2022 | 02:44 pm GMT
Rob Hutchins | Products of Change Writer

Cihan and Asude from TWIN Science talk us through their plans for climate change education

It was at some point between 2010 and 2016 that the ed-tech start up TWIN Science reached the understanding that education was failing children. When it came to preparing children for the jobs of the future; those that would include solving some of the world’s most pressing concerns like climate change, the gap between the resolve among kids to do something and understanding how to do it, needed plugging. Born within the scope of the Science Movement, a social responsibility project that organises science workshops for disadvantaged communities throughout Turkey, it was at this point of realisation – that relevant education for children was still lacking – that TWIN Science was born. Its aim? Simple. To reach every child on the planet, no matter their background, with education focused on the UN’s 17 Sustainable Development Goals by utilising both technology and physical toy product innovation, to impart learning and teaching that will set children up, today, with the skills for tomorrow. Some six years later, and TWIN Science is really starting to make its presence in the ed-tech space felt. It was only recently that team successfully executed a pioneering campaign to partner with the Polar explorer, Antony Jinman to engage children with, and teach them about, climate change through its own TWIN App as he embarked on his Antarctic Quest 21. Facilitated by Professor Ger Graus OBE, the initiative’s Project and Education Advisor, the campaign – drawn up in partnership with LikeToBe and Verofax – resulted in TWIN Science creating a unique and interactive educational resource using footage streamed from Jinman expedition itself. Such a success was the campaign – one through which TWIN Science witnessed increased engagement across its platforms and App in issues like climate change, global warming, and sustainable consumption – that TWIN Science is determined to take its pioneering initiative to the next level, once again.
Explorer Antony Jinman and his team celebrate TWIN Science from deep within the Antarctic
It is why the team is now looking to launch a new community-led platform geared at arming teachers and educators with the resources and information pooled from across the world’s climate experts, to integrate climate change education into their classrooms. When TWIN Science came to Products of Change with the campaign, we were only too keen to discover more. So, we caught up with Asude Altintas, co-founder of TWIN Science and the company’s chief content officer, Cihan Ozalevli to learn more. A whole lot more. Hello to both of you, it’s a pleasure to chat! There’s so much going on around TWIN Science right now, it’s probably best to start with the basics. So can you give us a bit of background on the work you do? Absolutely, Robert! TWIN Science is an ed-tech start-up that is harnessing the power of playful learning to nurture humanitarian values while helping every child to develop STEM skills and competencies needed to build a better future. The double-wing philosophy stands at the heart of what we do. We believe that with two wings, children can fly. One wing represents strong competence in STEM+A areas with highly developed 21st century skills. The second wing represents a strong sense of conscience and social responsibility to apply this knowledge and skills. By using these two wings, kids will be empowered to have a truly positive impact in our world. But to raise such individuals, learning needs to be fun, engaging, and inspiring – which is what we aim to accomplish with our products. With TWIN’s LEGO-compatible STEM kits, children can play with and learn from the latest technologies in robotics, coding, and autonomous cars with hands-on activities, while through the TWIN Coding and TWIN App, the digital and physical products engage kids in active, interdisciplinary learning with content that champions purpose-led problem solving, inspires creativity, and empowers children to change the world around them. Which all sounds fantastic! But you go beyond simply supplying products and education in this manner, isn’t that right? We know that equal opportunity of education for children across the world is very important to you…  Yes, that’s very much what we are about. So, for each digital subscription to our TWIN App, we give one digital subscription to a child from an economically disadvantaged background. Additionally, for each kit purchased we donate a portion of our sales to the World Science Movement, which aims to give children better access to STEM education. In fact, this is where TWIN comes from. Each child playing with a TWIN product has a learning twin, somewhere around the globe. So far, we have reached over 500,000 underprivileged children in Turkey, the UK, Cameroon, Ghana, South Africa, Tanzania, and Kenya in the scope of the World Science Movement project.
TWIN Science acts to provide STEM education to all children around the world, to prepare them for the green jobs of tomorrow
Learning twin. What a brilliantly creative way to bring children in on that journey. So, purpose is very much at the heart of the business – if not, precisely what the business is built upon. Can you talk us, briefly, through your own relationship with sustainability?  The digital space today gives companies the opportunity to grow without expending natural resources the way they conventionally would. TWIN is harnessing the power of digital play to grow its footprint in the ed-tech sector, while supporting partners that teach children about the UN’s Sustainable Development Goals. The TWIN App has hundreds of DIY experiments where children don’t need to buy new materials to try out, but use available resources in their homes. Finally, we are minimising the use of plastic in our science kits and our products are recyclable. Our manufacturing team is working alongside our partners to use biodegradable materials for TWIN kits. By 2025 our target is to complete this transition. And this ties in nicely with the recent partnership with Polar explorer, Antony Jinman and his Antarctic expedition. Can you tell us about that? The partnership was born out of the collective understanding that there is an urgent need to children to be receiving a skill-based education infused with responsible messaging on sustainability. The synergy between TWIN, LikeToBe, and Verofax on the campaign resulted in TWIN creating a unique and interactive educational resource on the TWIN App, using footage from Antony himself. The response we received from this collaboration was immediate – across our platforms and within the TWIN App, we saw increased engagement in issues like Climate Change, global warming, and sustainable consumption. Likewise, the press circulation and public attention this collaboration received was very important in advancing similar projects that focus on delivering SDG-related learning objectives. Which leads us to where you are today, and the development of the resource platform for teachers. Tell us more…  Companies, schools, teachers, and individuals have key roles in creating solutions to the knowledge gap we face today. Given the urgency of climate change, teachers have a strong will to integrate climate education into their lessons. However, they have difficulty doing this in practice thanks to the daily tasks and current curriculum requirements. This is where edtech companies can play a big role in supporting teachers and provide them with resources that facilitate the integration of climate change education into their classrooms. So, we are going to focus on weaving the Sustainable Development Goals into our content and provide it as a solution to teachers. It sounds like a platform teachers would be happy to engage with. And what’s the plan for bringing in that knowledge and resource?  We believe the key to closing the knowledge gap will be through strategic content partnerships through which teachers and content creators knowledgeable in SDGs can produce content for the TWIN App and make this available to teachers without a background in climate education. At the same time, we are integrating our own TWIN App content with the related SDGs and planning on turning it into a platform where teachers can easily find content related to their core subject areas, so that they can use our content as supportive material in their classrooms.
TWIN Science's new venture was inspired by the success of its partnership with Polar Explorer, Antony Jinman
Very interesting! And I believe you’ve already had backing and endorsement in some big names in education?  We certainly have. The project has already attracted the attention and support of three key individuals who have recently joined our advisory board: Lee Daley, co-founder, chief strategist, and chairman of Hello Genius, Dr Meryl Batchelder, a science teacher and SDG Ambassador, and Dr Selen Beduk, President of the United Nations Atlanta Chapter – whose expertise in the SDGs and her network with environmentally responsible organisations will be invaluable as we expand into the US market. We feel honoured to have joined forces with such accomplished individuals who share the same vision as us. That’s brilliant! Big names and big plans for the platform already in place! What impact do you think this will have on children’s education?  School curricula often does not support a deep understanding of environmental issues or develop the skills in critical thinking and technical knowledge needed for creative problem solving. The use of the TWIN App to enrich students’ learning is particularly valuable while we wait for educational reform on climate and sustainability education as it relieves pressure on teachers. The use of the SDGs in the TWIN App makes learning relevant and engaging. The Global Goals provide a blueprint for a safer, healthier, happier world and can be used to encourage systemic thinking which will help solve concerning problems such as plastic pollution, climate change, and biodiversity loss alongside promoting a sense of global citizenship and social justice. While scaling our content library, we will also create an SDG curriculum and set an example for how digital products can play an important part in climate education. Well, Asude, Cihan – this has been a fascinating chat and what a great project to be working on. Before we let you go, here’s your chance for a plug. Is there anything you’d like to shout about?  Given the UN Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change’s (IPCC) latest report, which reveals that global warming has already made some irreversible impact on our ecosystem and that we have only a brief window left to make urgent changes, it is crucial now more than ever to take immediate climate action. One of the best ways to take climate action is through educating each other and of course, our children. Therefore, we’d like to encourage anybody who’s willing to share their expertise with children while raising their own environmental awareness to join our mission by applying to be a content creator for the TWIN App. We can all make a difference and be the one to change the future for the better. Those who are interested can find out more about this and apply here: https://www.twinscience.com/en/become-a-content-creator/
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