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Former Junior Mentors Develop STEM Learning App: MadLabz

Former SCFG Junior Mentors—Sarah Knotts and Jennifer Wang—collaborated with their fellow 2020 Technovation Challenge teammates, Sherry Xu and Anya Lefkowitz, to create MadLabz—an app that compiles Science Club for Girls' curated collection of #SCFGatHome resources and hands-on activities in an easy-to-use digital location. The app, which is now available for download on Apple's App Store, organizes experiments by subject (Chemistry, Engineering, and Physics) and simply outlines the materials and step-by-step procedures with colorful, hand-drawn graphics. Each experiment includes a brief analysis of the STEM concept being explored, and offers additional questions for the young scientists to consider.

Both Jennifer and Sarah were involved with SCFG as Junior Mentors. Jennifer, who became involved with SCFG in eighth grade, recently graduated from Newton South and plans to pursue computer science at Brown University this fall. Sarah, who was a JM from 2015-2017, graduated from Boston Latin School this spring and is headed to Boston University in hopes of studying engineering, and specifically its applications to Public Health.

Read below to learn more about Jennifer and Sarah's experience with SCFG and what inspired them to develop MadLabz. We can't wait to see what they create next!

What is one of your favorite memories or experiences with SCFG?

Jennifer: One of my favorite memories is launching homemade rockets with my cohort. Watching the rocket that the girls and I spent weeks building with empty soda bottles and cardboard paper fly through the air is an excitement and a reward.

Sarah: I really liked the trips with other Junior Mentors, because I got to spend time with other young women who were also really passionate about pursuing STEM in different capacities. We went on hiking trips and had potlucks (a whole lot of laughs). It made me feel much more well rounded as a person during that time.

In your opinion, what is special about Science Club for Girls?

Jennifer: Science Club for Girls has been defying the norm that women do not belong in STEM. I’ve witnessed firsthand how Science Club For Girls has given girls the confidence and courage to pursue STEM in future and also how they have made many complicated topics, even rocket science, simple and fun.

Sarah: I really liked that the curriculum actually helped me understand science topics better and taught me the importance of education. It is one thing to know about science and another to translate that understanding. It is also really important to inspire future generations of young women in STEM because the world needs women leaders ready to take on solving whatever problems that light a passionate flame inside them.

What inspired you to create the MadLabz app?

Jennifer: In the wake of COVID-19, we created MadLabz to bring fun, interactive STEM experiments to students at home. Our goal is to not only allow students pursue their STEM education remotely, but to foster their excitement and interest. MadLabz allows students to explore STEM topics through a hands-on learning approach. In essence, the app serves as a digital collection of science experiments to pique students’ interest and to enable them in pursuing their education anywhere. In the app, we provide step-by-step procedures, hand-drawn graphics, and explanations of the scientific principle as guidance for every experiment. We hope students will enjoy their STEM exploration through our app.

Sarah: MadLabz was originally created for the 2020 Technovation Challenge (which is an experience I’d recommend for others to get involved in because it teaches you how to develop ideas for an app and think about the components needed to turn it into a business). We decided to actually finish app development once we realized that now more than ever, access to STEM learning is important to keep students engaged in their education and fill in gaps left by virtual classes.

What advice would you share with current SCFG participants?

Sarah: I would encourage anyone reading this to pursue your own path. You were meant to live your life, not anyone else’s. Use tools, talents, passions, and resources you already have to make a possible change. Start really small and you might see your footprint magnified through time and effort. Connect with others, because we can’t make it and go as far without each other. Embrace differences because that’s what makes this Earth an interesting place to live in. Keep setting small goals and challenge yourself to be the best version of yourself you can be.

Thank you, Jennifer and Sarah, for creating MadLabz and for sharing it with the SCFG community!

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