Quantum physicist wants to send the classroom on a trip to space

March 5, 2024

BY Nina Lyhne

Shaeema Zaman, an entrepreneur and quantum physicist, is on a mission to improve science communication through two startups, Science Melting Pot and QASE Tech.

Shaeema Zaman, a quantum physicist and entrepreneur, has taken an unconventional leap from research to communication, determined to bring science out of the dusty textbooks and make teaching it exciting and relevant.

Shaeema Zaman founded Science Melting Pot as a one-of-a-kind channel for science dissemination, motivated by the desire to make science more inclusive and engaging – as well as to retain students in STEM.

“As the name suggests, we aim to be a melting pot of services within science communication with a sharp focus on making the complex relatable and accessible through storytelling,” says Shaeema Zaman.

Among other things, the startup teaches researchers how to better communicate their findings and creates everything from infographics and games to social media for that purpose.

The task portfolio has been expanded to include knowledge dissemination for departments at Aarhus University and DTU. Most recently, Science Melting Pot collaborated with DTU to create a website (rumrejsen2023.dk) that tracks Danish astronaut Andreas Mogensen’s second mission to the International Space Station. The initiative aims to increase children and young people’s interest in STEM subjects.

Science Melting Pot is also a part of DigiQ, a four-year EU project involving 24 organisations from ten countries that all provide training courses and modules for a Master’s course in quantum technology.

From DIY to ISS

Together with Elham Amiri, an astrophysicist, Shaeema Zaman has simultaneously started the company QASE Tech, which adds a playful twist to classroom teaching through the use of QASEs – do-it-yourself assembly kits designed to pique high school students’ interest in astrophysics and quantum physics.

“I have always felt that I lacked the playful element in school. As a result, we asked several teachers if they wanted to innovate their teaching methods. They all said yes, but many of them didn’t have the time,” Shaeema Zaman explains about the motivation behind QASE Tech, adding that the intention is not to replace the textbook, but to add a component and a playful element.

According to Shaeema Zaman, the academic subjects that QASE Tech chooses to tackle are frequently boring to teach. How do we communicate with satellites, for example? It is difficult theory in thick books, so why not make the learning practical?

The first learning set that QASE Tech has developed is precisely about radio communication in space, with students developing a radio that makes it possible to receive signals from satellites such as the International Space Station (ISS).

Great boost from other entrepreneurs

Through both startups, Shaeema Zaman has raised millions in funding. She finds that researchers, companies, and schools are all becoming more interested in better and more interactive science communication, but the journey has not exactly been a quantum leap. One thing was a string of funding application rejections, and another was the sheer impracticality of devoting oneself to an entrepreneurial dream while also remaining financially and mentally afloat.

“My journey has been influenced by the entrepreneurial ecosystem around me. I had no idea where to start. I was in love with my own idea, but I had no idea how to find clients or even approach them.”

Shaeema Zaman received a head start and a kick start on her entrepreneurial journey through various workshops in The Kitchen, and while she could easily work on the projects from home, she gladly shows up to the office space in The Kitchen every day, where she works and meets with her seven employees.

“I am more creative and efficient in The Kitchen and around talented people. I learn a lot from talking to other entrepreneurs, regardless of whether their startups are similar to mine or not. There is a great energy and a strong sense of belonging.”