21st Thinkerers. Expose - Develop - Create

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21st Thinkerers. Expose - Develop - Create: Bringing the Maker movement to underserved youth by rebooting the Sciences!

Kuala Lumpur, MalaysiaKuala Lumpur, Malaysia
Year Founded:
Organization type: 
Project Stage:
$10,000 - $50,000
Project Summary
Elevator Pitch

Concise Summary: Help us pitch this solution! Provide an explanation within 3-4 short sentences.

An alternative school that aims to develop underserved youths into future Makers, exposing them to real skills in the Sciences whilst leveling up traditional vocational training. The future is a place where the arts and sciences eventually converge and today's schools are not remotely ready for it

WHAT IF - Inspiration: Write one sentence that describes a way that your project dares to ask, "WHAT IF?"

What if we could transform dropouts into scientists/engineers by reengaging them via the Maker movement, Design Thinking, ICT, etc.?
About Project

Problem: What problem is this project trying to address?

Bad mental conditioning from systemic education (low self-esteem, undeveloped potential, stereotyping, etc.), lack awareness of the ever-widening role of the Sciences in today's world and the future, the widening gap between academia and work skills, no disposition towards lifelong learning in life Statistics: xxx dropouts (2011), xxx (2012)......

Solution: What is the proposed solution? Please be specific!

Identify a group of 20 dropouts (ages 15+) who previously showed potential in academia. Expose them to hands-on activities based around the Maker movement, re-engage them into learning (now and for life) via coaching, and later form Project groups who will tackle real world problems e.g. home automation, D.I.Y. solutions to existing market solutions, green/sustainable products, etc. that must have projected income generation (entrepreneurial spirit). The learning environment will be specifically designed to simultaneously develop soft skills in order for each project to succeed. Positive psychology concepts will be applied with longer-term goals to develop their grit, self-control, social intelligence, empathy, optimism and curiosity.
Impact: How does it Work

Example: Walk us through a specific example(s) of how this solution makes a difference; include its primary activities.

The simple act of immersing disadvantaged youth into Maker activities, if done properly, would have already made a difference in their lives in terms of their future options for employment. Primary activities will be 1) creative exploration within a learning environment that emphasises real life achievements (creating solutions that have real world applications) instead of grades; and 2) enhancing soft skills desired by industry such as critical thinking, research ability, communication, creativity, etc. Project groups will go out into industry to find real problems to solve (using design thinking), iterate on their solution together with their clients, ultimately commercialising it for shared financial gain with their clients.

Impact: What is the impact of the work to date? Also describe the projected future impact for the coming years.

Projected future impact: steady employment either as employees in science-related industries or as future technopreneurs. Every student will graduate with confidence and industry-relevant skills, and a mindset of lifelong learning for self-improvement. As a first step, graduates will be encouraged to contribute back by teaching the next generation or to remain actively involved in the school's initiatives once they have entered the job market. Social mobility programmes have always been plagued with narrow-minded solutions that resulted in minimal income generation, non-lasting long term impact or in the worst case scenario, no measurable benefits. Many successful case studies exist of similar schools overseas and collaboration is being actively pursued. True impact is possible long-term (5-10 years) when the programme expands exponentially to all school-going children

Spread Strategies: Moving forward, what are the main strategies for scaling impact?

A 2nd chance for all low-performing kids to develop their potential in an unconventional way by working hands-on on solutions to real world problems that have identified income generation potential. 1st year: pilot in Kuala Lumpur (1 to 3 schools) 2nd - 5th year: expansion of the programme throughout Malaysia 6th year onwards: independent replication/adoption globally The overall vision can be achieved with a strong commitment from all stakeholders (donors, parents, teachers, students). Active campaigning to integrate the school's approach into mainstream education via policy change.

Financial Sustainability Plan: What is this solution’s plan to ensure financial sustainability?

Initial pilot by donations/grant to setup the learning environment. Founding team kept small and volunteers leveraged. Sustainability only kicks in when the pilot group is ready to work on projects whereby their solutions are expected to generate income. At the same time, an experimental donation platform will be setup that combines impact investing, crowdfunding and crowdsourcing concepts as a secondary means to continuously fund the school

Marketplace: Who else is addressing the problem outlined here? How does the proposed project differ from these approaches?

In Malaysia, this will be an alternative route for poorly performing students which is currently addressed by youth development programmes, trade apprenticeship, and vocational schooling. It differs in the sense that the founder believes they have skills and talents that went unidentified in traditional schooling and instead of "dumbing down" their prospects and future economic ability, we aim to put them back into STEM-related industries like engineering and ICT. Similar efforts: -Riverside School/Design for Change, Ashoka -Call to Innovation, Singularity Uni -High Tech High, USA

Founding Story

I grew up loving to do things with my hands i.e. Lego, crafts, D.I.Y. repairs and have always appreciated the fact that this contributed to my development into a well-rounded individual later in life. Whilst changing careers, I delved into fine arts, animation, photography, and mobile apps whilst reading widely on cognitive science, neuroscience, creativity and psychology. For 7 months, I taught professional English (ages 10 to 16) and was profoundly impacted by how little it takes to get a young mind actively engaged in learning from a state of total disinterest. That led to my continuing search to address educational shortcomings in the Malaysian system and I have been actively validating my ideas within the startup community here.


Founder's roles: Full-time involvement in strategic planning, building the team, defining organisation culture, and obtaining seed funding. The future team should fulfil these roles: - lead trainer & subject development - funding coordinator & evangelist - content creation (video documentary, blog) - business development - technical lead Further down the road: - volunteering lead - teacher development - social impact researcher