Chemistry is not only one of the school subjects, but also an exciting science about how and what the world around us is made of. In conditions of self-isolation, school and student experiments in laboratories are now not possible, therefore the team of the resident of the Technopark of the Novosibirsk Academgorodok ChemIT+ proposed their alternative reality.
Project leader Alexander Snadin spoke about how a student project is developing into a unique startup, why everyone should know chemistry and what work was done within the framework of the autumn business accelerator A:START.
Alexander Snadin, from school, decided to link his life with scientific and educational activities. As a student, he participated in the three final stages of the All-Russian Olympiad in Mathematics, Chemistry and Economics, and having received a diploma in chemistry, he became the owner of a presidential grant.
Now Sasha is a fourth year student at the Faculty of Natural Sciences of NSU, works at the International Tomography Center of the SB RAS, is actively involved in teaching activities, and also participates in various student competitions.
“Even at school, at one of the physics Olympiads, we were presented with a full-fledged virtual physics classroom, where we could conduct various experiments and visually study theoretical material. This episode inspired me to create a chemical digital analogue. I was able to start implementation at the university: I told my classmate Alexander Romanov about the idea, and together we decided to develop the project,” Alexander Snadin recalls.
Today the project is at the prototyping stage: ChemIT+ is a unique computer program, by installing which, the user enters a virtual chemistry laboratory. In the program, you can conduct hundreds of experiments and experiments, study theoretical material in the classroom and laboratory work, as well as consolidate knowledge using interactive tasks.
So far, only the computer version is available to users, but the creators plan to make a mobile one, as well as implement VR - for this, a universal architecture was initially laid for different versions of the program.
For personal use, the program will be sold through online stores. The guys plan to work with legal entities by subscription: a corporate service is being developed, for example, for teachers of schools/universities. They will be able to add their learning materials and conduct interactive activities for students.
“We tried to make simple and intuitive controls, and graphics and effects in experiments as realistic as possible, so that any user could feel like a real experimental chemist!
The platform is interesting not only for those who want to study the subject on their own, but also for the teachers themselves, who can create their own virtual lessons on the platform. Some of the assignments can be devoted to preparing for the OGE and USE exams. At the moment, we are working on creating a constructor of lessons and assignments so that teachers can add their own teaching materials,” Alexander emphasized.
The guys got to business accelerator A: START thanks to the head of the section “Bio-Nano-Med” by Maria Galyamova, who advised them on the development of the project.
As part of the accelerator, the team received relevant knowledge and skills in running a startup, marketing and commercializing a product, assembled an MVP, got in touch with several large potential clients, and also outlined further development plans.
“The expert advice was extremely informative and useful, but most importantly, during the accelerator, we moved from endless program building to finding and finding clients.
The online format itself turned out to be very convenient: it was possible to get in touch at home, without wasting time on the way to Academpark. I would also like to note the opportunity to revise the material if it was not possible to attend the lesson.
In the first days of accelerator A:START, I saw many very strong projects that overcame various difficulties and reached considerable heights, so I sincerely doubted that I would win the final. However, in the process of working at the accelerator, as well as personally with the head of the IT section, Evgeny Ivanov, I became more confident in my project and before the final I already believed much more in victory than at the beginning of the path, ”said Alexander.
Despite the fact that the program can be flexibly tailored to different areas: online, offline education or tutoring, the team is currently more focused on online schools and private educational institutions with which it already conducts conversation. At the same time, the guys are open to cooperation with government agencies, where recently digital solutions are gaining more and more popularity.
“Our main goal is to improve the level of chemistry education. Why is it so important? Chemistry is everything that surrounds us, everything that we face every day. These are medicines, household and cosmetic products, food additives, and various materials. Together with physics and biology, it is included in the cycle of natural sciences, which explains how the world works.
Today, it is extremely useful to have an idea of these sciences: the horizons expand and a certain understanding of the things that each of us encounters appears. Therefore, we expect that the application will be of interest not only to those who are directly related to this science, but also to those curious people who want to learn something new, ”the innovator shared.
In addition the founders Alexander Snadin and Alexander Romanov, the ChemIT+ team includes a developer Denis Katkov with many years of experience in the IT field and project management, as well as a techist Kirill Molchanov.
“Our team was formed from trusted people with a common motivation to develop digital educational projects. The environment of the Academpark and the Academgorodok as a whole disposes to conduct similar projects here, therefore we gladly accepted the invitation to become the residents of the business incubator,” concluded Alexander.