Ladderworks is a publishing platform of diverse picture books and an online curriculum with the mission to empower over a million kids to become social entrepreneurs. Our current series features interviews by our interplanetary journalist Spiffy with inspiring Social Entrepreneurs and Entrepreneurship Ecosystem Builders, who are advancing the UN SDGs.
Spiffy here with the scoop on the entrepreneurial leaders of Planet Earth. As the only interplanetary journalist stationed on this blue planet, I’m thrilled to present this galactic exclusive with Sari Hurme-Mehtälä, the co-founder and CEO of Kide Science. Let’s learn what’s happening at Kide Science and how Sari is making a positive impact in the world.
Spiffy: Hi Sari, thanks a million for talking to me today. Tell me, what challenge is Kide Science addressing?
Sari: Thanks for having me, Spiffy! A recent study (Durkin et al, 2022) indicates that if pedagogical approaches and learning environments in early childhood education doesn’t allow children to play in environments and with activities specifically designed for young children the effects of ECE are negative for children’s learning and equality gaps widen. Teachers and parents do not have time or confidence to plan these high quality playful inquiry activities and many training and resources are really time consuming and expensive.
Spiffy: What motivated you to do this work on education?
Sari: My co-founder, Jenni Vartiainen, did five years of academic research about engaging young children in science without compromising play. My other co-founder Aino Kuronen was the teacher and designer for these research science lessons. The pedagogical model was born from these experiences and is the innovation for the core of our solution why it works so well. After I had two babies, I joined the founding team as a business person to scale this meaningful innovation internationally.
Spiffy: I love that! How would you say that your organization is working towards a more equitable world?
Sari: Research says that 20 % of the children have special needs. This means that every teacher has a special needs child in their classroom they need to support and engage too. What if the needs of our youngest children were a driving force in everything from the way we design care and education systems, and tackle the global crisis? Luckily, we have heard from Kide Science teachers that our pedagogical approach is so engaging for the children. It works even for children with ADHD.
Spiffy: Tell me about a recent organization milestone or initiative. What impact does it make?
Sari: Our high quality content got us to cooperate even with DreamWorks hit Netflix series Gabby´s Dollhouse, where we have created engaging lesson plans for each episode! Kide Science has been making the pivot to include so much more than science. Our goal is to build the number one Early Childhood Education program, and this cooperation was the natural first big leap towards that with huge reach. Kide Science believes that children really can learn ANYTHING through investigation, exploration, and imagination.
Spiffy: Please share an experience when you faced failure and didn't give up. What did you learn from it?
As a startup, you have to make risky decisions often and try out what works for you the best. We know we have the most engaging pedagogical innovation in our hands that really has impact internationally. Unfortunately the business model and scaling this solution with small startup resources has been the hardest part and we have made many wrong decisions regarding that, and the pandemic did not help the situation, as all schools were closed. But, we have learned so much through years of experimenting and failing fast.
Spiffy: Is there anything else you would love to tell our audience?
Sari: Like Unicef says: “Universal pre-primary education of good quality will bring enormous benefits to our children, families, education systems and society at large.” We are firm believers in making STEM education a level playing field, regardless of gender and class. We believe by making quality, critical thinking skills accessible to all - we will create a generation that is able to properly communicate and take appropriate Climate Action so prevalent in today’s society.
Spiffy: Thanks for speaking with me today, Sari—it’s been an honor!
Sari Hurme-Mehtälä, CEO & Co-founder of Kide Science, has worked in big companies´ marketing and sales positions but felt that she wants to do something more meaningful, especially with children, after becoming a mother of two little scientists, born in 2015 & 2016. She joined the founding team with 2 other female founders, a researcher and a teacher. (Nominated by Kelly King. First published on the Ladderworks website on October 28,2022.)
© 2022 Ladderworks LLC. Edited by Jason Block. Spiffy’s illustration by Shreyas Navare. For the Ladderworks digital curriculum to help K-3 kids advance the UN SDGs, visit Spiffy's Launchpad: Creative Entrepreneurship Workshops for K-3 Kids and their caregivers here.