Why SAM Labs

Why SAM Labs

A letter from our Founder

The world's STEM challenge

Hello. I’m Joachim. I want to tell you the story of why I started SAM Labs, and why my passion for improving the educational experience is burning brighter than ever.

I’m a mechanical engineer. I studied at Imperial College London, and that’s where I realized engineering is much more creative than I originally thought. 

That’s why I started collaborating with students at the Royal College of Art on projects where technically-minded engineers could become more creative and creatively-minded designers could harness the power of engineering. This earned me a scholarship to research innovation design at the Tokyo Institute of Technology.

It was there, very quickly, that I realized that the challenges Japan was facing were the same ones I had seen in Europe and the US. Skills shortages in science, technology, engineering, and mathematics, and a lack of understanding that creativity is integral to these fields.

I knew more people would enjoy STEM as students and professionals if Engineering was made accessible and engaging. That’s when I decided to start SAM Labs, to provide educational experiences which ignite a love of learning and integrate STEM into any classroom environment.

Positive learning experiences

Something you’ll notice with SAM Labs is that you never get an error message. 

When you take a SAM Labs button and you press it, you’ll see it being pressed on the interface. It’s direct feedback. The same happens if you get a slider, it just moves on the interface!

This notion of immediate feedback about what’s happening is vital, it gives early ‘wins’ and feelings of mastery. 

Then it just snowballs, you can connect blocks together, the button to a motor, to an LED, and the components just work immediately and continue to behave on the screen as they do in your hands.

That’s important for me because I’ve seen that, if people drop off at the beginning of experiences with engineering, it’s because something didn’t work. There was a bug, a wire wasn’t connected correctly, and they didn’t know where to start to fix it. 

That’s where we lose people. The more frequently and the longer we can give learners positive experiences, the more resilience they get. 

This resilience comes in handy when things don’t work out! The learner develops more energy and trust, allowing them to surmount unforeseen obstacles.

Building resilience

That’s why every single SAM Labs’ lesson includes an opportunity to debug.

The debugging is crucial because most of our jobs as engineers and definitely software engineers, is debugging.

You need to have resilience, and to problem-solve why something isn’t working and repair it, rather than give up. Which young learners might not do if they have too many difficult experiences at the beginning.

Constantly being told/shown things aren’t working is exhausting! So they might not realize it’s worthwhile to continue trying.

That’s why I founded SAM Labs.

  • To add creativity to STEM, through STEAM.
  • To give young learners positive, foundational experiences with coding.
  • To give back the “why” to elementary teachers, who tend to focus more on pedagogy, while middle and high school teachers tend to have more of a love for the content itself.
  • To help students build the skills and mindset they’ll need to succeed.

That’s what SAM Labs is about.

We’ve started a movement, and the time to catch the wave is now.

Join us on our journey to give children the opportunity to prosper through education.

Joachim Horn
Founder & CEO