Dr. Lakshmi Sammeta is the mind behind TechZenik, a STEM based education centre operating out of Scarborough, Ontario. Much like almost every other business TechZenik has been forced to make some massive changes. We asked Dr. Sammeta some questions about TechZenik and how it has been operating under the current circumstances and her hopes for in the future.
What is TechZenik?
“TechZenik is a STEM based education company. We offer programs based around STEM concepts like Robotics and Coding among others. Before the pandemic offered direct classes, parties and camps to students from our location. We also did workshops at schools, libraries and other appropriate locations. We are partners with both the Toronto District School Board and the Toronto Public Library as a way to make sure that we can reach as many students as possible. We also subsides our courses for certain students enrolled in our programs and accept no cut-back costs when it comes the quality of learning. We invest heavily in equipment and education tools that are required in a STEM program so that students will have full access to whatever they need.”
When did you open the business and why?
“We opened our business in 2017. I noticed that there were not many qualitative STEM programs around Scarborough area for children. I really believe that getting a head start on STEM education is becoming more and more important with how competitive the job market in the STEM fields is getting. I want children to have some experience and exposure to STEM concepts, even if they don’t grow up to go into a STEM field. I believe that having the exposure and knowledge of these concepts will help children in any path that they go into in life as these concepts become more prevalent in life and every industry.”
How has COVID-19 affected your business
“Since March 2019, we closed all the camps, school workshops, library workshops, after school programs, week end programs pretty much everything. Due to the pandemic, we have shifted our focus to our virtual classes. We offer virtual versions our current programs, which are separated by topic and age group. Our classes are taught LIVE by a fully qualified instructor to make sure that the kids have any of their questions answered. We also offer home STEM kits that people can order to work with at home. We are working towards a self-learning online portal for kids where they can learn-build-play by themselves.”
How has your team adapted during the pandemic?
“The pandemic has naturally forced our whole team to work from home. I believe that they have handled it well. We conduct all group meetings and discussion through Zoom and WhatsApp. Like I mentioned before we converted our programs into online programs through Zoom and our instructors have handled it well. Our team has also shifted their focus to finishing the online self-learning portal known as PlayZenik. We have also started to focus more on our STEM kits. We hope to have more of our STEM kits sent out and to have PlayZenik completed soon to help educate kids from home as much as possible.”
What are your hopes for the future?
“Obviously our most immediate and first hope for the future is that the pandemic comes to an end as soon as possible. That way we can get back to teaching kids in person and seeing each other every day. In the more immediate future, we are hoping that our online portal will help kids learn new skills and gain new knowledge and make them interested in STEM education. From a business perspective we hope that our new online portal PlayZenik will bring more attention to our brand and hopefully when we are open in person again those people will come to some of our programs.”
TechZenik was planning to launch a day-care program but due to the more recent stay-at-home orders that program has been postponed. The company has now shifted all of its focus to updating its main website and finishing PlayZenik. Dr. Sammeta is hopeful that once the website is completed, the children and parents will find them both educational and enjoyable.
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