Universe Simplified Foundation (USF)

Partner From
07/01/2017 - On Going

https://universesimplified.org/


Supported by: Wipro

About Universe Simplified Foundation

Universe Simplified Foundation (USF) is a Mumbai based non-profit working to make inquiry driven, STEM (Science, Technology, Engineering, Math) education accessible to all.

Vision Statement: We envision a world where education empowers students and communities to find innovative solutions to real life challenges.

Mission Statement: To make hands-on, inquiry-driven STEM (Science, Technology, Engineering, Math) Education accessible to everyone.

The problem we are trying to address

Today, the world is facing a growing number of complex challenges. Infectious diseases, climate change, pollution, clean water, garbage, and shortage of food being just a few of them. However, technology and science have the potential to address this on a scale never imagined before – from drones used to plant a billion trees a year to garbage converted into energy by using waste-to-energy incinerator plants. Even in the face of COVID-19, it is technology that is saving lives (like testing equipment which can give results in 5 minutes), allowing people to work remotely while maintaining social distancing, and using drones to deliver food and medicines to the vulnerable sections of our society.

However, the same technology is also changing the face of future jobs. AI-powered robots and programs are on course to be so sophisticated that a large number of jobs are predicted to be lost by 2030. Now more than ever, a shift is needed in our current education system from rote and textbook-based learning to one that is hands-on and inquiry-driven, which will create a new generation of problem-solvers who not only desire to change this world but also have the skills and knowledge to do so.

While it is important for children to embrace technology and learn how to code, how to build robots, drones etc., we at USF strongly believe that it is even more important for them to learn how to think, so that they can find solutions for real life challenges.

Programs

Our solution for making STEM accessible to all is to be a STEM resource/ research organization working on two important programs:

Innovation Hub Program: This is the flagship program of USF through which STEM based innovation hubs are set up within schools and communities through which children are given the opportunity for learning skills and applying them to real life challenges. They learn how to build mechanical projects using motors and solar panels along with electronics and robotics. An example from this year is a 14-year-old building an automatic hand sanitizer after learning robotics. The larger goal of the program is local problem-solving and addressing local challenges through the application of science and technology.

Scale model for this program (both piloted in 2020-2021):

  1. Educator Training
  2. Organization Capacity Building

COVID Impact:

Due to schools remaining shut in 2020, we approached the Sarpanch of the villages where we work and ran the innovation hubs within the communities. We had started working with 3 villages but one was discontinued because of COVID. Other two villages ran the program for the complete year on a once-a-week basis.

In-Class STEM Program: This is a new program that USF intends to launch in 2021-2022. Through this program, USF aims to work with teachers within schools, to collaborate with them and bring STEM into the classroom. Focus of the program is to get children excited about science, ignite a sense of wonder in them and to build in them, a scientific temper along with a focus on science concepts clearing.

COVID Impact: Due to COVID, we could not launch this program in 2020. We did several online science sessions with ZP-school teachers to gain a better understanding of their needs.

Location

USF is working in the outskirts of Mumbai, in villages along the Kalyan-Murbad road. Pre-COVID, we were working in Mumbai city but we have made a decision to let go of the urban innovation hubs and have a more focused approach in the villages we are working with.

Villages we are working with (and intend to work with, in 2021-2022): Dahagaon/Bandnepada, Poi, Manjurli, Chaurve, Rohan

Plan for the next 1-3 years

We intend to put all processes and structures in place so that we would be ready to scale our above-mentioned programs. Focus will be on building a strong team (implementation + curriculum development) and fundraising.

We have begun work on an online portal for all our content. We hope to build this portal in the next few years to include projects and courses in multiple languages as open-source.