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Qisma Tech’s First Holiday Programme and what we learned

Qisma Tech’s First Holiday Programme and what we learned

By the end of 2020, let’s hope that mess of a year is behind us, we were patiently waiting for schools to re-open so that we can start testing our games and making sure that kids got the education they needed for a tech-based future. We decided on making a holiday programme because it seemed the easiest and quickest way to reach our demographic and test our assumptions. It was scary, to be quite frank, and we were quite unsure if kids wanted to even attend; or if they did, if they wanted to come back. We’re pleased to say that it was an absolute success. It taught us a lot about how far we’ve come as a business and how much work we still need to do.

We took this poster and went to as many schools as possible, hoping to get some attention for our programme

The first day of the programme was wonderful even though we only had one kid. Yes, we ran our first day of the holiday programme with only one kid. But we made sure to show him the enthusiasm and care as if we had a full house!

Every day after that we got more and more kids attending, and it brought so much joy into our hearts to see how responsive the kids were to our teaching. We felt a great deal of achievement when kids at such a young age started to understand concepts that wouldn’t have been taught in schools at their age.

Kids between ages 7 to 12 learning about circuitry
Kids between ages 7 to 12 learning about atoms and molecules

Our main learning point of this programme was that, regardless of their age, these kids could learn and develop their skills in electronics and programming and be able to pick it up faster than a high schooler, if done right. This is not to say that age is not a factor, it most definitely is, but the way of which we’re teaching these kids needs to change.

Our older kids working together to build circuits for AND, OR and NOT gates.
Our older kids trying to figure out what the output is using their knowledge of logic gates and the inputs we provided.

On average, our kids were aged 7 to 9 and this was the demographic that we wanted to test these games on the most. With a step-by-step guided process, a quick but steady additional information and difficulty and a dash of healthy competition, kids can learn anything. I mean, anything! From not knowing what algebra even means to knowing how to solve substitution of linear equations. From being absolutely bored and probably forced to go to a programme to being hyped and asking for more complex equations. If these kids and this programme taught us anything, it is that kiwi kids today need to be challenged more and that we shouldn’t be afraid or hesitant to teach them things that we may think is beyond their comprehension. Like us, you’ll be utterly surprised of what these kids can accomplish.

We want to thank the parents that took a chance on us and allowed us to work with some of the most incredible, respectful and entertaining children in the world!

We also want to thank The Atom of Victoria University of Wellington for allowing us to use their space!

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Our Story

Our Story – the start of Qisma Tech

In the summer of 2018/19, Cameron and I decided to join the Victoria Entrepreneurship Bootcamp in the hopes of starting a business together. We decided on the name Qisma Tech. ‘Qisma’ is my (Mohammad) maternal grandmother’s name. The traditional generational transfer of knowledge from my grandmother to my mother and then to my siblings and me, while at the same time adding to that with our own generational knowledge and new learnings of technology is the foundation that we wanted to express within our business, and therefore our business name.
Qisma Tech started as a tool to aid tutors in their professional lives. This gradually changed as we saw a greater need to introduce and prepare young kiwis for the vast and competitive future of technology. Regardless of the change, our primary values that is our foundation never changed; We are an educational establishment determined to improve education in NZ, we aim to reach and educate all kiwi kids regardless of their background, and we always aim to create fun, interactive and effective products and services.
One of the main events in the world that inspired our direction was that of a Tokyo kindergarten designed by Tezuka Architects lets children run free on the roof. The school followed the Montessori Method, an educational approach where children are given the freedom to learn via discovery. Children running around and moving is a vital part of their development, and we had the idea of incorporating basic tech concepts that we learnt in first year engineering into the rules of games. We wanted to create a new and fun approach to a vital section of education – STEM subjects. This allows the kids to be active and therefore improve their memory and brain functionality, as well as get them to work together and have a healthy dose of competition.
Tokyo kindergarten by Tezuka Architects read more here
We spoke to some children and learned from their own advice that they preferred information coming from a cartoon character; think Dora the Explorer and Harold the giraffe. For that reason, we decided to create our own character; a mascot. We wanted our character to be representative of New Zealand to show our national pride and not a cliche robot or tech related character. We wanted to show children that utilising tech can actually make the world greener and brighter if done correctly. We of course thought of the kiwi as a mascot but then realised how overused it was, so we thought of native flora and fauna of New Zealand that hasn’t been used as much. The kakapo was selected and so we went ahead on creating our official mascot and logo – Gizmo the Kakapo. 
Our very first trial run was all thanks to Thorndon School and their Deputy Principal, Matt Boucher. We were extremely nervous, but prepared to find flaws as we were eager to improve and better our service. We received very positive feedback from both Matt and the kids (of which we were able to trial with 40 kids in total). We were extremely excited as we saw the children actually understanding concepts like the if-statement and Ohm’s law. Not only that, we found that children with a more extroverted leader-like personality were able to lead their teams with respect and care for each member. As for the introverted more quiet kids, they were able to step out of their comfort zone and become an integral part of their team – a vital skill in engineers that is always referenced at university. 
Our very first trial run at Thorndon School where the kids are playing the Bee Game which teaches the concept of sequencing and introduces debugging
Qisma Tech aims to encourage young children to learn and develop valuable technical and social skills in technology. We recognise the value of teachers and the important role they have in not only educating their students but making the students curious to their surroundings and how things work. This is why we teamed up with our partner MakeRipples, to bring a virtual workspace for teachers to be upskilled in tech and keep track of their progress. We recognise that teachers may not have the time to go to certain classes and events and so we thought to bring those resources to the teachers. We have simplified it so that teachers can click, learn and develop at their own pace.