How Nanogirl built a lockdown-ready online learning platform in three days

Business is Boring is a weekly podcast series presented by The Spinoff in association with Callaghan Innovation. Host Simon Pound speaks with innovators and commentators focused on the future of New Zealand. This week he talks to Dr Michelle Dickinson (Nanogirl) about how her new online learning platform and how it will work during the Covid-19 lockdown.

There are a lot of businesses right now looking at a completely changed future. Many people working in events or in industries relying on travel and tourism especially. What do you do when you look at the next six months and all your revenue is gone?

For some, there will be no easy answer, and we really feel for you. For others there may be ways you can change your offering and do something new with your skillset. And that’s what the Business is Boring podcast will be focusing on for now.

On this episode, I speak with one of New Zealand’s top science communicators, who you may have recently seen working and talking with the prime minister to help share awareness and information around Covid-19.

Dr Michelle Dickinson is well known as Nanogirl, her science communicating, experiment making, science cookbook authoring alter-ego. With a PhD in engineering specialising in nanotechnology, and a love for sparking interest in science, Dickinson has worked to increase the quality of our national conversation through media appearances, a Herald column and live events – events that can’t happen for the foreseeable future.

Faced with this drop in income and uncertainty for her team, Dickinson’s spirit of invention and experimentation kicked in. The team pivoted over the course of three days to create an online learning platform that can help kids stuck at home experiment with items found around the house and learn through doing. With a lesson every weekday, for only a dollar a day ‘and a buy one give one’ model, it’s already finding a loyal audience.

To talk the journey to here and getting the new venture up and running while also stepping up to share quality information in the media, Dr Michelle Dickinson joined the podcast, recorded on the first day of level four lockdown restrictions in New Zealand.

You can find her new venture at Nanogirl’s Lab.

Either download this episode (right click and save)have a listen below or via Spotify, subscribe through iTunes (RSS feed).


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