Tafara Makaza ’22

GoDigital Zimbabwe, Zimbabwe

This summer I had the opportunity to work on Sciency—a science revision mobile application for high school students in Zimbabwe. My role as project manager was to work with a team of three developers from GoDigital to build and test the mobile. Sciency is a gamified revision app designed to make IGCSE science revision fun and interactive. The app equips students with 3D science models and real time quizzes developed in parallel with local examination boards and teachers.

When we started, there was no reliable e-learning solution tailored for high school students in Zimbabwe. As a result, teachers would use alternative social media apps (mostly WhatsApp) which are not ideal since they distract students with random content. Therefore, as a product of early Zimbabwean education, I wanted to use my experience with online learning here at Williams to facilitate the development of a contextualized mobile application that would help students get a quality virtual learning experience.

As such, working (with a remote team) on the Sciency app may have been the most valuable work experience I have had during my time at Williams. Everything had to be planned ahead of time since the rest of my team were not only remote, but had a six-hour head start. In addition to having Zoom meetings with the team, I also spent a lot of time talking to high school teachers and students about the impact of the pandemic on their education and personal lives.

This internship has taught me to be empathetic and to understand that this pandemic affects everyone differently. Most of the time, I was very comfortable at Williams whilst my team members were trying to stay safe in a debilitating economy. As a result, one of the major drawbacks was reaching out to high school teachers and students so that they could take our surveys. Because of the pandemic and the socioeconomic situation in Zimbabwe, most teachers had a lot of personal and professional obligations. However, after a few weeks of persistence, teachers started to respond and they were very interested.

Looking back at my internship, I feel very grateful to have had the opportunity to work on such a time valuable project. With Sciency, we were able to gamify education whilst maintaining quality and quantity of material. I am very happy with the reception that Sciency is receiving. The app is currently one of the best science revision apps in Zimbabwe. Within a few weeks after launch, the app had 500 student users and was trending as the best education app in Zimbabwe on the Google apps store.

I would like to thank the Petersens for this amazing internship; without it, I don’t think I would understand what it’s like to work in this new normal. Because of their unmatched generosity, my business development experiences at Williams have certainly aged well; from my first run at the Williams Business Challenge, being a student 
entrepreneurship intern at the ’68 Center for Career Exploration and now a beneficiary of the ASIP.