Recently we had an opportunity to speak with Mark Salata, the VP of Partnerships at Werkz Publishing Inc. about STEMWerkz
Please share with us the backstory of what motivated you to create this app.
We have been passionate about science education since the inception of our company. During 2020 and the chaos created by the pandemic in K-12 education, we set out to harness all of our strengths in STEM education, learning, design, and tech to create something wonderful for K-5 children.
What features do you hope to roll out to your app in the future?
We are carefully considering what kinds of social aspects may or may not be best for an educational setting. For schools, we must not simply allow the world to interact with a student inside STEMWerkz. But social aspects are encouraged for social and emotional development. We just must be focused on what we allow and what we do not, in order to provide a safe and positive learning environment.
What has been the most rewarding aspect of the creation of this app?
Seeing students have a joy for learning with STEMWerkz and wanting to learn more and apply said learning.
What is the coolest or most innovative feature of your app?
The city-building game, named STEAMValley, is one of the most compelling parts of STEMWerkz for the children. They have autonomy to build their city, but they must do so and consider how to improve the health of the city in several aspects in order to level up. They earn coins by helping the citizens of STEAMValley solve problems and learn STEM. And the citizens are diverse in representation, so children can see themselves within the game itself.
What surprised you most in your journey to create this app?
That we had all the pieces put together and ready for launch within four months. This surprised us, but at the same time it didn't, because our team is highly motivated when we collaborate. We function as one and are not compartmentalized. For example, our technical team has a deep understanding of learning and teaching, such that they can work with our education experts and play around with ideas fluidly until we crystalize a concept.
Which other mobile apps or technology have inspired you?
All of us at Amdon Group are immersed in a variety of mobile apps both for personal and work. I'd say that there isn't one or a few apps that inspire us, but it is the aspects of other apps that show elegance in design and simplicity of use that inspire us.
Do you have any recommendations or advice for others wanting to create a mobile app?
Get a team that can work well together, that is supportive of each other, and can be critical and creative without letting egos get involved. Remember, you are participating in a creative process and the wonder and joy of making something useful for others where nothing existed before is a miracle of sorts.
How did you decide which platforms to release your app on and do you plan on releasing your app to other platforms?
It's clear that Apple App Store and Google Play Store are the main mobile platforms to invest in. No matter where you are in the market, those cover most if not all of our customer base at home or in school. For desktop use, we deliver the product online via a browser, so we have all the bases covered.
How is your app different than the rest of the market? Which unique need does it fill?
Our app provides multiple ways for children to learn STEM content as opposed to just one way. We provide them the choice of participating in a city-building game, go on a curated learning journey, or explore a library of interactive learning stories. All are designed with learning based on what we know motivates children to be engaged, as well as using thoughtful questions to encourage curiosity and critical thinking.
You can view STEMWerkz here
For more information, visit: https://www.stemwerkz.org