“I think sometimes technology does a better job of showing [physics] than actually having someone talk about the concept,” Ba says. “Some of these concepts–motion, force–they are very complex scientific concepts to teach. They’re just hard.”
Getting kids to play outside, on the other hand, is relatively easy. “Natural play is intrinsically motivating for children,” says Ba, who holds degrees in psychology and sociology.
Harnessing playing as a motivator, rather than approaching physics concepts in a more pedagogical way, can help science learning reach a broader audience. Ba says he’s noticed that kids, especially those from underserved communities, can get intimidated by technical scientific tools like microscopes. “They’re like, ‘I don’t want to touch this; it’s too expensive,’” Ba says. “We’re trying to invite them into science learning in a very playful way. It’s not school, where they’re just sitting there listening to someone talking.”
The app will be ready later this year. You can check out the entire article and slideshow here.