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myQmod: Energy Tools For Tomorrow's Innovators

Qmod aims to teach children how to generate and innovate with sustainable energy in areas that have limited or no access to electricity.

Photo of Dana Cannam
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What problem does your innovation solve?

Students today require 21st Century skills that go beyond the core subjects. Unfortunately some educators lack the ability to teach these skills due to lack of expertise, internet or even electricity. The Qmod team has worked with students from all over the world with the intention to understand how to implement 21st Century Learning Skills, by utilizing everyday materials in learning to innovate with different sources of sustainable energy.

Explain your innovation.

Qmod is an educational Kit developed to empower kids to learn about the science of energy in a hands-on and memorable way. The Energy Kit includes the Qmod Energy Block, card game, instructions and everything you need to power imaginations with the possibilities of what the future of energy might be. The Qmod Energy Block is designed to be simple and intuitive, allowing kids to easily harness energy from a variety of sources -- including plants, mushrooms even compost. The Energy Block also works with more common sources of clean energy like solar panels and dynamos. Once the Energy Block is fully charged, young innovators can experiment, play games even invent new objects all powered by the energy they have learned to harness. The Energy Block is designed specifically to make experiments fun and intuitive, utilizing colour coordinated components as well as magnetic connections making assembly and cleanup a breeze. In addition to the Energy Block, each kit comes with a set of illustrated instructions and playing cards outlining the fundamentals of electronic theory in a way that is easy to understand and most of all fun to use. The instructions are divided into chapters covering everything from explaining exactly what is electricity, to powering devices that you can code using the energy that you have learned to harness.

Who benefits?

The Qmod Energy Kit is made for parents, educators and learning institutions that lack the basic teaching resources for teaching 21st Century Learning Skills. The Kit was developed to teach students (8-15) the basics of electricity, harvesting energy and even create the opportunity to apply this knowledge towards needs of the community. We have not chosen a specific location for the deployment of our educational kits, but have developed the tools and content to be used in areas that do not have access to electricity. This mentality has always been a factor in our design process, in creating tools that not only teach, but empower children to learn through creating their own solutions.

How is your innovation unique?

Qmod is a unique solution due to our focus on 21st Century learning skills in an environment that encourages students to learn and innovate with sustainable energy. Other organizations have developed platforms to focus on these skills where hardware is commonly used to focus on one skill, coding, that leaves other important skills out of the equation. Some examples have pre-made modular solutions that can be connected in pre-determined combinations leaving the imagination of the learner stuck within the boundaries of the product. All of these solutions require batteries, and fail to address an area of education that is dearly needed all over the world. Our idea is to allow children to realize their own potentials in learning about sustainable energy, and implement a variety of skills to think outside of the box – not just use what is available in the box.

What are some of your unanswered questions about the idea?

Currently we are trying to figure out exactly how to get our Energy Kits into the hands of those who need it. We are limited by the access of shipping a physical object to areas that may not have the basic facilities.

Tell us more about you.

Qmod is an EdTech startup based in Rotterdam comprised of a passionate team of designers, engineers and educators. The team has worked with some of the top tech incubators in Europe, including Google Launchpad, YES!Delft and E.ON’s on :agile accelerator. In addition to working with international startup organizations, the team has worked with various schools including the University Technologico de Monterrey in Mexico and Mountain Road Primary in Cape Town South Africa.

What is the primary type of emergency setting where your innovation would operate?

  • Natural disaster
  • Prolonged displacement
  • Extreme drought

Emergency Setting - Elaborate

We have experience working with schools and educational organizations in creating tangible learning experiences with basic materials. Our products have been designed for exploring and utilizing environments that lack online resources and even limited access to electricity.

Where will your innovation be implemented?

Economic inequality is perhaps the greatest source of educational crisis. Our experience with organizations in Mexico have led us to believe that Mexico City would be the best place to initiate our idea simply because of the resources it has to offer. Here our team can begin to understand how to implement our project in areas that are hardest hit by economic inequality, and eventually create a network to help us reach those who need help the most.

Experience in Implementation Country(ies)

  • Yes, for less than one year.

In-country Networks

In 2015 Qmod visited the University Technologico de Monterrey Mexico, to explore recent developments in self-sustaining sensor networks utilizing energy harvested from living microorganisms (MFC Sensors). Along with the computer engineering and computing science faculties, Qmod helped to realize the potentials of environment monitoring to prevent disease outbreaks, with the intention to reduce the need for excessive use of antibiotics known to compromise natural health defense.

Sector Expertise

  • I've worked in a sector related to my innovation for more than a year.

Sector Expertise - Elaborate

Qmod has spent 2 years working with makerspaces, schools and hundreds of students in order to rethink energy innovation from an educational perspective. This began in 2014 when the team travelled to South Africa to host a 5 week workshop with the students of Mountain Road Primary. The workshop focused on creating batteries from waste and helped to create a curriculum for after school programs. Currently we are working with students and makerspaces on a weekly basis to validate our product.

Innovation Maturity

  • Roll-out/Ready to Scale: I have completed a pilot and am ready or in the process of expanding.

Organization Status

  • We are a registered for-profit company (including social enterprises).

Organization Location

Rotterdam, Netherlands


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Photo of Dana Cannam

Hi Christel,
Thank you for your question.

For the past 2 years our team has had the opportunity to validate pre-existing touch-points in the product development process through user-testing and product iteration. Metrics involving age and cultural overlaps were considered from test groups in South Africa, Mexico, India, Italy and the Netherlands in the form of low constraint observations and direct user surveys. The data from this research has indicated that globally, children are more engaged in learning through game-play that incorporates clear easy-to-follow illustrations. We have incorporated these findings into a system of color co-ordinated components and illustrated cards for students that require little translation across different languages.

Currently we are developing a learning plan in Dutch, Spanish French and English for teachers to help encourage student learning through engaging activities that do not necessary replace existing curriculums. These learning plans are simple and adaptable towards the teachers needs while offering time sensitive activities that touch on real world contexts like renewable energy.

Approval from governing bodies is an area we will focus on after seeking the approval of educators. We are interested in working with people to create the results that policy makers seek. This is a priority to us. Although it will be difficult to reach areas that are in distress, our intention is to continue iterating our products and content with as many players as possible through workshops, hackathons and educational events.

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