Rural and township learners in the Free State are benefiting from the creative genius of 28-year-old Mbangiso Mabaso.
Mabaso is the founder of Sisanda Tech, which runs a project called SI Realities, a virtual science laboratory that uses enhanced virtual reality to make learning science easy, fun and engaging. The technology allows users to perform experiments using a smartphone.
Mabaso went to a township school and realised how not having access to an operating science lab set him back while studying electrical engineering at varsity. He was determined to help others in the same situation.
The self-taught app developer realised after designing his first game that there’s more to games than just playing. His first game, Eed, was created in 2015 and raised awareness about energy conservation. Eed came third in the SAB Kickstart Ignite competition, winning R100 000. It’s this experience that led to the development of the virtual science lab, said Mabaso.
“I thought to myself if the kids find a book boring and a game fun, why not fuse the two? The use of game mechanics makes learning fun. When a child is playing games, he could be eliciting things that he is not aware of and then using those lessons in the real world.”
Mabaso undertook many entrepreneurial projects before coming up with Sisanda Tech.
“When you get into entrepreneurship, it’s like entering a university of entrepreneurship where you’re going to write tests and fail. I have lost a lot of money in the process.
“My failures are my achievements, however, because I get to learn from those experiments,” he said.
Mabaso works with eight schools ranging from primary (grades 4 to 7) to high (grades 10 to 12) schools in Thaba Nchu and Botshabelo where he focuses on life science, natural science and technology and is planning to venture into mathematics.
“My philosophy in life relies on self-education. I believe when you match the information you get from school with self-education, it will turn into something.”
According to Mabaso, interest is the key to learning. “If you don’t have an interest in anything, you will never learn. I had an interest in developing games so eventually I learned how to do just that!” he said.