“India has a large number of graduate and postgraduate students, but we all know that only a small percentage of them are employable.” Why, with such a large population, India is not at the top of the innovation index table yet?Dr Sonali Gupta, founder of STEMonster – STEM learning platform
Meet Dr Sonali Dasgupta
Dr Sonali had been working as a research scientist for about 15 years. She worked extensively in research around the world. She experienced working with world-renowned global labs and the latest technology hubs across Europe and the United States.
And in the year 2019, when she decided to return back home to India, she was at a crossroads in her career. She had all the gates open for her, but she couldn’t decide which one to choose.
Meanwhile, she had another responsibility to attend to, the duty of being a mother. She, like all other parents, was concerned about her children’s practical knowledge of India’s goal-oriented study pattern.
She was fortunate to have a hyperactive child who asked numerous questions and wanted to know almost everything; her day began with “But Mumma, why & how?” Sonali decided to create a space for her child to learn, grow, and explore all of her “hows and whys’, and thus the seed for a STEM learning platform was sown.
STEM Was The New Fun
Sonali had to keep an 8-year-old child entertained because she got bored easily, and when Corona happened, the problem multiplied tenfold. She began doing experiments with her daughter on and off to keep her engaged.
Sonali noticed that her daughter’s interest in learning a new topic grew much faster than when the child attended school. Sonali noticed her daughter, like most children, was inquisitive, but her curriculum and books were not enticing her to learn more. It was high time to change how we introduce science and maths to children, thought Sonali.
I had returned to India after so many years, but the textbooks and topics that kids learn are still the same as we used to study 25-30 years ago.
And because Sonali’s daughter was home all the time, she eventually ended up doing one experiment every day and began posting the activities on Whatsapp statuses.
After watching her Whatsapp stories, her friends and family began to ask if she could do it for their children too. Her daughter and some kids from the neighbourhood were her first customers.
Her daughter was her most important advisor in this startup. She inspired Sonali to look at it from a child’s perspective and incorporate some innovative programs for them.
My daughter used to bluntly say, “This is too boring or this is too long to go in.” This way, I always knew a little about how my little customers will feel about the product.
Introduced STEM Learning Platform In India With STEMonsters
She designed some experiments for them and created a fun environment for them to play with science. Kids loved the activities so much that they asked “What are we doing next & When are we doing it again?”
It was her calling, and she realized the need to get to the middle of the children, as these children are like clay, and if someone doesn’t start working on the change now it will be too late.
As more parents learned how Sonali was teaching her child, they became interested in teaching their kids the same way. Sonali began sessions with more children via Zoom, and to her surprise, each and every child enjoyed the activities Sonali planned for them.
They not only enjoyed learning concepts of science and maths, but they insisted on doing them more and more.
This STEM education program started organically, they started meeting once a week, but eventually, more and more parents came to her and said their child is interested in science but they don’t know how to proceed. This is when she realized she has a good idea and began working full-time on a programme that provides STEM education in India.
STEMonsters was born when she realized it was time to begin her career as a STEM educator. She decided to create a space where children are motivated and guided to learn because they are driven by their own curiosity.
She created a place for children to learn freely and fall in love with science and technology without being burdened with finding solutions or getting results.
I wasn’t just going to force kids to learn science because their parents demanded it. I wanted them to be fascinated by science.
Sonali wanted children to learn science without being burdened, so she used a gradual process with experiments rather than a templated approach. Sonali aimed to teach a child what it takes to create something, how to deal with failure and learn from their mistakes, and how to create from their learning.
What Is This STEM Learning Platform – STEMonsters Doing?
STEM is an acronym that stands for science, technology, engineering, and mathematics. But it goes beyond that. STEM has evolved into a distinct approach to teaching and learning that is centred on individual students’ learning styles and interests. This implies that STEM education offers something for every student.
Keeping the goal clear, a STEM learning platform – STEMonsters came into existence. STEMonsters® is a place where she decided to share her extensive research and knowledge with children in order to inspire them to pursue their own scientific endeavors.
This STEM learning platform aims to develop a child’s scientific aptitude through a hands-on STEM program that fosters problem-solving skills, confidence, and an interest in science, technology, engineering, and math (STEM).
Dr. Sonali Dasgupta goal’s with it is to create a fun STEM learning space for youngsters where they can explore technology and science concepts by fiddling, conducting experiments, and exploring. Her goal is to create a learning ecosystem that will help today’s curious kids grow into tomorrow’s confident innovators.
It is an online program that starts with children aged 8 to 14 and offers age-appropriate learning. The concepts, experiments and themes that are followed are appropriate for their pace of learning
Sonali concludes that “without the fear of being wrong, children quickly begin to offer unconventional and out-of-the-box solutions!”
I am a forensic scientist. “Building blocks of life,” “sustainable energy cars,” and “interior design planning” are some of the coolest fun activities for kids offered by STEMonsters.
Impacted 1200+ children
Designed 300+ experiments
More than 95% retention over 18 months of the program
Pre-incubated at NSRCEL, IIM Bangalore
Part of the Level Up program from Springboard911 & Google for Startups
Part of the 1st Cohort of the WiT Ace program for startups
What Was It Like Being An Entrepreneur
Once Sonali got started with her STEM learning platform, there was no going back, and like many other entrepreneurs, she faced her share of problems. It was difficult for her to convince new parents that grades aren’t important and that children should learn because they want to, not because they have to.
However, Indian parents are now realizing the importance of education, says Sonali.
Listening to a kid say, “Science was my last favorite subject, but now I love it,” it’s simply a reward for me. It’s like my daily dose of assurance that I am working in the right path using the right way.
This passionate mom mentor has created an ecosystem for children to learn in the most enjoyable way possible. She has established an extremely successful startup that has not only introduced kids to this unique STEM program but also retained 95% of her customers.
With a kid or without one, if science is your last favourite subject, I think you should consider attending a STEMonsters session because I am definitely going to one. Connect with STEMonsters at their official website or over Instagram.
Mad4India is proud to share this mom mentor’s success story; if you enjoyed reading it, don’t miss Dr Sonali Dasgupta’s upcoming fireside chat.
Feature Image – Dr Sonali
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