Hima Tk is a member of the NASA Datanaut team, an innovation advocate, and the founder of InquiBox
Just two decades ago, the creativity wasn’t considered an ‘essential’ area by the mainstream education system. For too long, early childhood and high school learning has revolved around STEM - science, technology, engineering and maths.
The importance of the arts and creative learning is a topic that Hima Tk is passionate about, and through InquiBox’s innovative approach to STEM, children now have an opportunity to develop 21st century skills such as creativity, curiosity and critical thinking.
Hima is an advocate for innovation and she values the full spectrum of early childhood learning, and she acknowledges that every area of education is important – not just traditional means of learning. Through creative learning, she believes that children can develop positive relationships with areas of study they usually shy away from.
By educating children and parents through fun and engaging project-based learning, InquiBox inspires the young minds of tomorrow to learn as much as they can in as many ways as they can too…
You’re a member of the NASA Datanaut; a community of data scientists and dreamers. What’s that all about?
NASA Datanaut is an ‘openNASA Program’ wherein people from all across the world are brought together to work on various projects using NASA Data. In my class, we had around 40 members from 25 different countries, which was amazing. We had to attend classes on different data science topics, collaborate with other datanauts across the world on various projects, and we were assigned mentors from the NASA Datanaut program. It is a fantastic program to polish my data analysis skills and work on interesting projects with ‘openNASA’ data.
You have a colourful career in technology, data and innovation. Was it difficult to take the leap into launching your own business, InquiBox?
Yes, it was scary. I was taking a break from my comfortable job to launch my own business. I truly felt like I was jumping out of an aircraft without knowing how to operate a parachute. But I kept asking myself, ‘If not now, then when?’. Even though, I was prepping myself for three years prior to taking the leap by self-learning using different online and offline courses, I always knew that I will never be 100% ready or feel confident about taking the leap.
When I reflect back on it, I would have taken that leap sooner, because there is so much which you can only learn by doing. No amount of preparation can actually help you when you are experiencing the ‘everyday’ of operating a business.
Was the idea behind InquiBox an ‘AH-HA’ moment, or a long time in the making?
I would say a bit of both. I had always felt quite passionate about education and wanted to do something in education forever. However, I didn’t know what exactly I wanted to do in the field. I come from a STEM background and had always been quite a nerd when it comes to learning about new things. I was always looking for something to do in education.
One day, I was in New York and I heard about this startup which provides agricultural kits for growing veggies at school and I thought wouldn’t it be great if we can all experience learning by doing. The idea for InquiBox stemmed from there and it has evolved since then.
Our mission is to bring the magic of learning to the dreamers and innovators of tomorrow. We want to instil a love for learning in children and help them become life-long learners - a skill crucial in the now and future.
What was your biggest challenge in the first year of running InquiBox?
The biggest challenge so far had been being able to trust in my own ability to make decisions, which can have far reaching consequences. Working in a corporate job, you are so used to having a support system and leadership with whom you can sense check your decisions and gain from their collective knowledge and experience. However, when you are running your own startup, it is your own show. At some point in time, you have to trust your ability to make decisions on your own. Taking a ‘mindset of experimentation’ had been crucial for me in overcoming my own previous mindset.
What’s on your daily to-do list running InquiBox?
Each day is different. Most of the days is a combination of answering customer queries, brainstorming with the team on the product roadmap, helping team members and removing any obstacles they face in their day to day work, prepping for meetings with external stakeholders, pitching to them and generally, douse out one fire after another. Ha! So even though I start every day with a structured to-do list, I hardly stick to it because there is always something else that needs my urgent attention which comes up during the day.
How has co-working helped with your personal and business growth?
Personally, it has been wonderful to work out of space surrounded by entrepreneurs who are on the same journey as me. Otherwise, building a startup can get a bit lonely and I believe it helps to be around people who are going through the same experiences that you are going through. It is always helpful to bounce ideas and get opinions from other businesses that have faced a similar challenge to the one you are facing. I have had great conversations with other members in the co-working space on specific challenges I was facing and they always give me pointers on what they did on similar situations.
What one superpower would you have and why?
One superpower I would love to have is teleportation. Oh, what a joy it would be to get myself to far away places without the hassle of air travel, immigration and visas. I love travelling and that is a superpower I have always dreamt of. I hope some day in my lifetime; we invent teleportation devices and succeed in understanding the time space paradigm a bit better. One can hope and wish for it!
What would you go back and tell your 15-year-old self?
One thing I would go back and tell my 15-year-old self is everything is going to be okay and you are going to be so proud of the woman you become. And stop being so hard on yourself!
How do you measure your impact on the next generation?
Good question. How we measure our impact on the next generation is something we constantly think about. We do collect feedback and measure engagement rate, completion rate and other KPIs which we keep track of. The true impact for us is if each child who receives our box and completes an activity feels inspired to learn more about the topic on hand or explore something related to it. After all, our aim is to inculcate a love for learning in every child, and we aspire to do it in the most fun and engaging manner.
This blog was written by the incredible and talented Claire Goldsworthy, Founder of The Fashion Advocate.
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