No need for complicated technologies to promote learning and the acquisition of knowledge in children … Cardboard, scissors, adhesive tape, a good dose of imagination, and a desire to play are enough. Dowit, a new start-up created by Frenchman Mathieu Penot at Stanford, is here to prove it.
“Initially, Dowit is my master’s project in Educational Sciences which I obtained this year at Stanford University“, He explains. “Today, more than fifty different activities are available for children aged 4 to 8. Parents can take out a monthly subscription and choose the workshops that appeal to their children.”Dowit’s goal is to develop children’s creativity, self-confidence, critical thinking and curiosity.
Mathieu Penot is not his first attempt in the field of education. After studying engineering at Centrale Nantes and spending two years in consulting in Paris, he moved to Singapore to work for a start-up that develops creative workshops for children. “I spent three years there, which allowed me to discover my passion for the field of the education of the youngest. Unfortunately, the company did not work“, Relates Mathieu Penot. “An opportunity to move to the United States presented itself thanks to the work of my girlfriend, which allowed me to discover Bay Area companies specializing in education, and to do my master’s degree in “Learning design and technology ”, Which allowed me to better master the technological tools used to amplify learning.”
When he created Dowit, Mathieu Penot set out to create the reference platform for teachers and parents looking for ideas for creative activities for children. The closure of schools and the confinement linked to the Covid-19 epidemic is a complete game-changer: “I pivoted the site on online education, in order to continue to facilitate this learning even remotely. Children should be able to participate in manual activities with what is available at home. It is a great way to develop an entrepreneurial spirit from an early age.”
Very interactive, the workshops call on children’s thinking and creativity: from an idea such as building a house or a rocket, creating a board game or a labyrinth of balls, the children observe several prototypes presented by Mathieu Penot before launching themselves: “The children think about how they want to create the object. We often have very different projects. For example, a little girl who wanted to build a house for her stuffed whale decided not to include doors, so that the water would not drain…”The realization of these projects allows children to acquire many concepts through play: thus, the observation of the marbles rolling in a labyrinth introduces the principle of gravity.
If Mathieu Penot is currently alone at the helm of Dowit, and runs all the workshops himself, he hopes to quickly develop an educational community around the platform. The workshops are given in English, with the possibility of doing them in French for children who understand it. Ultimately, Mathieu Penot is targeting one or more fundraising events that will allow him to make his project sustainable.