China / Education

Science study trips and experiment kits gain popularity in China

By Ma Danning ( Updated: 2015-02-10 07:15

Science study trips and experiment kits gain popularity in China

A father helps his son prepare butterfly specimens, at a butterfly class by Micreate in the Paleozoological Museum of China, Beijing, on Jan 31, 2015. [Photo by Ma Danning]

Burgeoning but uneven market

Sun Dong, a marketing executive from a Beijing company that teaches science targeting 3-to-12-year-olds, said his company received more franchising offers than ever in 2014.

"Our business model in Beijing is sending teachers to more than 70 primary schools to help improve science classes, providing originally designed experimental courses and teaching aids. We also sell books on major Chinese online shops that instruct pre-schoolers and primary school students to do experiments at home," said Sun, from Beijing Haoke Qizhi Education Technology Co. Ltd.

"Entering 2014, we received more offers from across China that sought to franchise our science workshops. So far hundreds of franchised shops have been established".

Sun didn't reveal the locations of the shops, but on its official website, offers come from Central China's Hubei, Hunan, Northwest China's Shanxi and Northeast China's Heilongjiang province, and not just from big cities.

Shangyuan Education Group, based in Wuxi, East China's Jiangsu province, has run science camps every winter and summer vacation since 2009. It has promoted such camps at its subsidiary companies all over the province, including Nanjing, Nantong as well as much smaller cities such as Jiangyin and Cixi.

"The 12-day, 24-member winter camp this January was fully booked a month early," said a worker at the Jiangyin branch of Shangyuan Education. The camp was popular despite the fact that the Jiangyin subsidiary was relatively new and had only held such camps twice.

An increasing number of people are jumping on the bandwagon of youth science education, but some have reported fly-by-night enterprises and unprofessional educators.

A Shanghai-based branch of Crazy Family Children's Science Learning Center, which claimed on its official website to be affiliated to a Beijing subsidiary of Global Education & Technology Group, reportedly shut down suddenly on May 19 last year. More than 400 students and their parents couldn't reach its workers and lost money paid up front, amounting to more than a million yuan.

The center's branches in Tangshan, Nanjing and Harbin also reported sudden closure, with the owners disappearing with customers' money.

An experiment kit produced by Changjiang Children's Press Co. Ltd, aimed at children under five and containing instructions and materials for experiments, drew complaints from parents claiming the materials were of such substandard quality experiments did not work.

"The concentration of salt water is not enough, and the seeds used for soilless cultivation experiments never came up," an anonymous buyer commented on Dangdang, one of China's largest online marketplaces.

"In our industry, professionalism is what parents expect the most," said Ji Hui, from Micreate. "That is why we cherish our brand, and the quality of our services. We'll not increase class size just to earn more money, while compromising students' learning".

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