E-Lab helps students practice science experiments at home

Content image - Phnom Penh Post
The team of five created the E-Lab app, being awarded 1st place National Grand Prize Winner in the Senior Division at Technovation Cambodia. Hong Menea

Tech Girls Cambodia is a team of five young women who scooped first prize at Technovation Cambodia last year after developing the E-Lab app to help high school students practice science experiments at home.

“E-Lab is an educational app focused on science. Our app consists of experiments that are related to STEM [science, technology, engineering and maths] with clear guidance and instructions, lists of affordable materials, and safety tips. Our app is divided into three sections — Grade 7-9, Grade 10-12 and fun experiments,” said Sreenvassan Jasmine, one of the developers.

The idea for the app came from the girl’s own experiences trying to learn science.

Last year, Sokuntevy Chhy was a Grade 12 student at Preah Sisowath High School in Phnom Penh. She found that learning science by memorising theories at school without real life practice was hard.

“Today we still practice lessons by memorising theory. Because of this we face problems learning science and technology subjects in school, so we want to find a solution,” said Chhy.

From high school student to recipient of the 2019 Girl Innovator award at the Cambodian Women in Tech Awards, 19-year-old Chhy has come a long way.

The Cambodian Women in Tech Awards was established by the Ministry of Posts and Telecommunications to empower women engaging in ICT to boost Cambodia in the digital age.

Chhy is now a freshman in Chemistry at the Kirirom Institute of Technology, and she currently fulfills the role of CEO and handles technical matters for Tech Girls Cambodia.

Other members of the team include 24-year-old Pisal Utngy, who is responsible for coding; Arunraksmey Puthirith, 18, leads in business ideas and problem solving; Vachhara So, 18, manages funding; and Jasmine, 18, deals with partnerships and communication.

Chhy initially gathered the team to take part in the Technovation Cambodia competition last year, for which the five created the E-Lab app, being awarded 1st place National Grand Prize Winner in the Senior Division.

“We developed this app because we noticed that public schools lack science labs and equipment. Most students are interested in science and experiments but unfortunately they don’t have the resources.

“So to eliminate the need for real labs, we came up with a solution to create E-Lab, which enables users to practice doing science experiments by watching videos in the app,” said Chhy.

Released in May this year, the app has started with only a couple of videos, but it is growing.

The videos enable students to learn and carry out experiments themselves at home by following the instructions.

Cambodian-Indian student Jasmine told The Post that “students can learn more about science through the videos and also better understand the reactions between two elements”.

Though E-Lab is mainly targeted at high school students, the platform is also suitable for university students or science lovers.

“Most students don’t have access to labs and expensive materials. The system can’t be changed overnight so we tried to find innovative means to deal with the problems,” said Jasmine.

An upgrade for the app is nearing completion, and upon downloading and registering with the upgraded E-Lab app, the home menu will show three categories – Chemistry, Physics and Biology – and the lower bar will show tools for three categories – Grade 7-9, Grade 10-12, and fun experiments.

“It took us a year and a half to create the app. The app is fully functional now and available for download but we plan on improving it further,” Jasmine said.

Though everyone is busy with their individual studies, Tech Girls Cambodia’s members are committed to adding more videos and interesting features for students.

“There are a couple of videos for now, divided into sections for users. However, it’s not the end, we plan on uploading more videos. So please wait for the official launch of E-Lab which will be posted on our Facebook page,” Jasmine added.

Chhy also told The Post: “We plan on improving day-by-day as our world is continually changing. We are aware that our app demands up to date content so we will keep uploading more and more videos within our capacity.”

She added that the team want to upgrade E-Lab to become a social platform for all science students where they can discuss each subject.

Chhy is lucky in that she has support from her parents to study in a remote institute and major in an IT subject, a restricted area for many female students due to social norms. She hopes to inspire other young women to do the same.

“We really want to see more start-ups. We encourage people to expand their ideas and start thinking about the problems our society is facing and try to come up with solutions within their ability,” she said.

E-Lab is currently only available on Android devices. More information can be found on Facebook (@Elabkh).