We had our very own Frightfest!

Roxy

With spooky season drawing to a close, we are reflecting on our immersive murder mystery day, which was followed by our spooktacularly epic fancy dress party held here in our office. Take a ride on the ghost train with us, as we delve into fun we had along the way.

The transformation of the office truly set the scene for what was ahead of us this Halloween. From fake blood, to cobwebs galore, the office soon resembled the perfect setting for the thrilling events of the day to take place.

With a playful twist, our team of accomplices laid out the rules of the Murder game, which had everyone looking over their shoulders in anticipation of murderous colleagues. The game really brought us all together in a somewhat unexpected way, but don’t worry there was no real foul play involved! We instead used our imaginations and were assigned “murder weapons” such as soup ladles and pieces of fruit!

What followed in the evening, were some truly frightening, and iconic costumes, from zombie brides, to Disney characters, dinosaurs and vampires – the fancy dress competition definitely bought out everyones creative side!

No Futurewhiz party would be complete without some classic karaoke, so of course, the microphones made an appearance, it was great to see many people getting involved, and performing their favourite hits!

As we look back at the day, we are grateful for the opportunity to come together as a team and strengthen the bonds which make Futurewhiz such a great place to work. It’s great to be able to combine the impactful results we all strive for, with our shared spirit for fun!

We’re sad to see the back of spooky season, but excited for the next event!

Our bring your kids to work adventure!

Roxy

Last week, we took on a new kind of adventure, involving little hands, boundless energy and big dreams…We hosted a “Bring your kids to work day!” The result? Endless exploration, excitement and a sprinkle of inspiration for our platforms. From the moment we heard that pitter patter of tiny feet coming from the lift door, we knew the day was going to be something special.

With wide eyes, and enough curiosity to fill the office, the 20+ children were about to embark on a fun filled day which they’ll never forget. The morning kicked off with the sound of giggling and chatting echoing across the office, as the kids familiarised with their parents workplace, and took a peek into the magic that happens behind the scenes of their favourite learning platforms Squla, StudyGo and Studira.

Before long, the young explorers were taking part in games like Mario Kart, playing Ping Pong, and channeling their inner Picasso. With their crayons and markers at the ready, they turned our office into an art gallery showcasing a collection of creative brilliance.

Lunch time. This brought even more excitement as our future innovators grabbed a seat at the table, as it was time for a true feast of friendship and flavours, ready to fuel them for the remainder of the day. It was heartwarming to see them creating memories and bonds which we hope will stay with them forever.

Before the day drew to a close, the children put on their “game tester” hats, and got an exclusive preview into some of the games we’re developing, and in return we got their feedback. Their insight is invaluable for us here at Futurewhiz, as our users are at the heart of what we do.

With our Bring your kids to work day, we demonstrated that great magic comes from young minds colliding with imagination and that laughter is the soundtrack to learning. The day reminded us that we’re all kids at heart, forever curious and on a constant learning journey here at Futurewhiz.

Here’s to future innovators, dreamers, and explorers – at Futurewhiz, we’re excited to be a part of their incredible journey!

Celebrating Tijntje’s 10 years at Futurewhiz: A decade of brilliance!

Roxy

Once upon a time, in small office, consisting of a total of three rooms, a vibrant Tijntje walked in wearing bright colours which could rival a rainbow! Little did she know that this would be the beginning of her journey at Futurewhiz!

Grab a slice of cake, and make yourselves comfortable, as we take a trip down memory lane, celebrating and exploring the tale of incredible impact that Tijntje has had.

It started with a sprinkle of hagelslag:

In her very first interview, Tijntje faced the prospect of joining a fledging start up with around 13 employees. Coming from the land of Marktplaats, it was a brave leap of faith to embark on an extraordinary adventure with such a young edtech company. As she sat down to interview in the Lunch spot which doubled up as an interview room, she discovered a few hagelslag sprinkles left behind on her seat, following someones tasty Dutch lunch. Undeterred by the misplaced treat, she grabbed a seat, before embracing the conversation with Serge, and 10years later here we are!

With her marketing prowess, Tijntje has sprinkled magic across our brands, people and users. She ignited the growth of our Squla user base, and set us up to succeed with her expertise, and unwavering commitment to our mission to empower children to grow through personalised education.

Tijntje has continued to demonstrate that the power of knowledge, passion and some wise (and efficient) decision making, make it possible to turn even the most daunting challenges into triumphs. She has enabled us to reach 30,000+ users of StudyGo and the impact this has on our children’s education is invaluable.

A guru of Getaways and foodie feasts:

Beyond her wonderful work, Tijntje has become well known for her recommendations, whether a holiday destination, or a delicious eatery, she has the answers to our travel and dining dilemas.

We will we raise our sparkling hagelslag filled glasses and celebrate Tijntje’s decade of brilliance and wonder here at Futurewhiz. Her impact is immeasurable and we’re all extremely grateful for such hard work and dedication.

Congratulations Tijntje, on this marvellous milestone, and for being at the heart of Futurewhiz!

Embracing Diversity & Inclusivity: Building a Brighter Future for All Children.

Roxy

At Futurewhiz, we believe greatly in the transformative powers of inclusive educational platforms for all of our children. We had the privilege of taking a remarkable 12 week journey on a course specifically designed for us and facilitated by Dr. Ellen-Rose and Dr. Fadie Hanna

Not only did the course enlighten us about the (many) “isms”, but it also allowed us to explore the depths of privilege and engage in inspiring discussions, fostering a deeper understanding and enabling further personal growth.

Today, we are thrilled to share just how this experience has motivated us even more to continue to make our platform inclusive and representative of every child we we serve.

Diversity is not just a buzzword, it is the heart and soul of progressiveness and innovation. By committing to dismantling barriers our children may face because of unique differences, we’re paving the way to an more equitable and inclusive educational experience. Our children are a vibrant tapestry of backgrounds, perspectives and experiences and the course allowed us to delve in and understand just how we can truly represent them.

Sexism, Racism and Ableism (as well as many other forms of “ism”) were thoroughly examined throughout the duration of the course. We all realised, that it is not enough to merely examine their existence, but we must actively combat them starting with recognising our own biases and committing to dismantling them.

We unpacked Privilege which can often be an uncomfortable topic, again due to the self reflection aspect. However, this was explored in a truly open minded manner, with empathy and openness, and group discussions. Some of us were comfortable enough to share our personal experiences, guided by Dr. Ellen-Rose and Dr. Fadie, who ensured that we as colleagues, we could open up to each other, whilst feeling in a safe space. Being given this opportunity was truly invaluable.

We began to comprehend the influence of privilege in our lives, and how it can effect educational opportunities. Armed with this knowledge, we aim to level the playing field on our platforms, and create equal opportunities for all of our learners.

Our journey towards inclusivity was further enhanced by engaging with the specifically selected content which included thought provoking documentaries, enlightening Ted Talks and powerful literature, all of which broadened our horizons and challenged our perceived notions.

As we culminated our Diversity and Inclusivity course, we were tasked with finding ways to make our platform services and offerings more inclusive and representative of all children. With renewed passion and commitment, we brainstormed and developed actionable strategies, and presented them at the end of the course.

Our goal is to ensure that every child, regardless of their background or identity, can access high-quality educational resources that resonate with their unique experiences. We are excited to embark on this new chapter, as we work tirelessly to ensure our products are a beacon of inclusivity, representing and empowering all children.

Together, let us build an educational landscape where diversity thrives, prejudice is challenged, and every child can flourish, and unlock their full educational potential. We must remember that every step taken towards inclusivity has the potential to shape a brighter, more harmonious future for all children. Collectively, through inclusivity, we are shaping the future.

A big thank you to The Rutu Foundation for Intercultural Multilingual education for providing this wonderful course, which they tailor made for us – you can find out more here: www.rutufoundation.org

Our Epic Beach Volleyball Tournament!

Roxy

Yesterday, we served up a thrilling Beach Volleyball Tournament and it’s safe to say we know how to raise the bar (and net) when it comes to summer activities! So, grab that sunscreen and dig your toes in the sand as we take you through the tales of the tournament, from the outfit extravaganza, to the pizza filled aftermath!

Lisa and Alieke, from our fabulous culture crew are the masterminds behind this amazing event, and rallied us all up for an evening of sand, sun and of course spectacular outfits. From fairies, Barbie & Ken Duos, The Glitter Bomb Squad, to the human pizza, you name it we certainly caught a vibe with our outfit efforts.

Time for the real competition. With the teams assembled the volleyball action kicked into high gear. Perhaps The Aloha Squad needed a bit more practise before making it to the olympics, but it was their enthusiasm and unwavering determination that won the hearts of everyone present.

When the dust settled, two victory hungry teams emerged from the volleyball battlefield and so began the showdown between team Volley-Dolls and Fairy Nice. The atmosphere was electric with victory in sight for both teams. Tamiya was a constant beacon of support for her team, a cheerleader going above and beyond to try to rally her team to win!

In the end, following a remarkable display of volleyball technique, and teamwork it was team Volley-Dolls who took the victory and became champions of this years summer activity. They wore their medals and wigs with pride!

With everyone in need a refuel, we headed to the park to relish in the fun of the evening over a delicious pizza feast. The laughter continued, with tales of epic serves, improbable saves and of course, a few sandy mishaps.

No tournament would be complete without referees, supporter and Head of Games so to everyone who participated on or off of the sand, your spirit and dedication is greatly appreciated! The Futurewhiz Volleyball tournament reminded us that there is great power in team spirit, and embracing being out of our comfort zone, and in doing so, we are continuing to strengthen the bond between our team mates.

Futurewhiz’s volleyball tournament was more than just the sporting competition, it was a testament to our spirit of coming together as a team of colleagues. So, until our next amazing adventure, we’ll keep the playful spirit alive and never be afraid to dive into new experiences, whether that’s in the world of education or on the shores of fun!

Stay curious, stay cool and keep the vibe rocking those fabulous costumes!

Unlocking The Power of Growth: Futurewhiz’s Inspiring Study day!

Roxy

Hey there fellow learners and ed-tech enthusiasts, we’re thrilled to share with you the epic tale of our offsite study day. Our mission is to enrich and empower our future generations experience of learning and education. Whilst doing this, we’re striving to ensure that we’re investing in, and enhancing our employees career growth and development; After all, the journey along the path of learning never stops!

So, grab the popcorn and take a seat, as we share the highlights of this unforgettable day!

Our CEO Serge took centre stage to kickstart the day with a candid and captivating interview with our one and only Lisa. Lisa’s questions allowed Serge to think deeply, and share some personal and professional insights into his career journey which inspired us all! The first part of the morning was packed with inspiration and some self reflection, and not forgetting a few more light hearted questions from our online interview panel made up of colleagues children. The tone for the day was well and truly set and we couldn’t wait for the rest to unravell.

Bart Flos. A renowned motivational speaker and author was next to ignite the spark within us, taking us on an exhilarating journey through the world of organisational change, and teaching us how to embrace it. His animated gestures, and hilarious jokes had us rolling with laughter; The buzz of his enthusiasm left us feeling energised and ready to conquer new horizons and seize change!

Next up, it was time for us to channel our inner Picasso and get artsy, the mission? We were challenged to create mood boards to capture our skills, personality traits, interests and values. Using magazine cut outs, and armed with glue sticks, glittery pens and endless creativity we collectively found clarity and a renewed sense of purpose. This opportunity to self reflect guided us greatly, and brought us closer to understanding our career aspirations.

Then came the moment for us to visualise our career paths. We drew detailed roadmaps, mapping out our career paths from the very beginning to where we currently are. We focused on the skills and critical experiences we can utilise, build on and acquire to reach our dream roles. Not only did this exercise provide a tangible visualisation of our goals, it also equipped us with a clear roadmap and mindset for future career success and development.

Of course, no study day would be complete without a delicious lunch to refuel and connect with colleagues. Engaging in meaningful conversations over a tasty meal with the Futurewhiz family reiterated the sense of community and camaraderie amongst us all. By the end of the day, the atmosphere was buzzing with positivity and innovation, and the relaxed environment meant that we could share a drink together, further reinforcing the collaborative spirit that defines Futurewhiz.

This unforgettable experience served to remind us all that we each have incredible potential, coupled with amazing support and guidance from Futurewhiz to exceed our career goals, whatever those may be. Stay tuned for our next adventure because at Futurewhiz the (learning) journey never ends!

Celebrating 12 and a Half Years of Dedication from our Developer Lex!

Roxy

Today, we are proud to celebrate the remarkable journey of Lex, one of our most dedicated developers, who has been an invaluable asset to our organisation for an impressive 12 and a half years!

On December 1st 2010 Lex walked into our offices, which, at that time were made up of no more than 1 room in a co-working office at the Panamalaan in Amsterdam. His journey began as our first developer. Fast forward 12 ½ years and the team has certainly grown, along with the reach of our products. 

From a platform for 3 grades (group 6, 7, 8) in a couple of subjects, we’ve grown to an edtech platform for primary and secondary school children in all subjects! We’ve also expanded into different countries and have seen many different colleagues come and go, though Lex has always remained!

Lex has been our constant beacon of brilliance, navigating the ever-changing edtech landscape with his magical keyboard. From the lands of Squla to the daring adventures of WRTs, Lex has sprinkled his coding prowess across all our brands, leaving a trail of amazing work thanks to his reliability and dedication.

For 12 and a half years, Lex has been an integral part of our edtech family, shaping our brands, weathering office relocations, and using his easy going, smart approach to always help others out. whether that help has been in the form of mentoring and onboarding new development teams, playing ping pong, or joining hackathons and events, he’s been a part of it!

In short, Lex is a Futurewhiz Legend, so from all of us, a huge thanks for 12 and a half years of commitment – you have made such an impact both inside and outside of the company. We’re all eagerly awaiting the next chapter of your extraordinary journey at Futurewhiz!

“I don’t believe we can cure poverty.”

Roxy

On Tuesday afternoon in Heerlen, our Social Impact Manager Lisa met the passionate Fadma van Leent, coordinator of Stichting Leergeld Parkstad. “In the first quarter of this year, we helped 2327 children and received no less than 6769 requests for support.” In recent months, the number of families requesting support has risen sharply. “The high energy bill and rising prices mean that more and more families are getting into financial problems. We not only help families living on welfare, but also families where one parent works.”

Under the direction of a board, Fadma sails and sails with 2 employees and a club of 25 volunteersStichting Leergeld Parkstad (this includes 7 municipalities: Beekdaelen, Brunssum, Heerlen, Kerkrade, Landgraaf, Simpelveld and Voerendaal). “Very proud and grateful that there are still people who sign up with us to do volunteer work. We can use them in the office, as intermediaries, but also as board members.” Leergeld helps children from 4 to 18 years old with bicycles, birthday presents, sports lessons, Squla and WRTS. This way they ensure that all children can participate. When a new family submits an application for support, an intermediary makes a home visit. The intermediary then maps out the wishes and needs of the family. They also refer to other facilities such as the Food Bank and Clothing Bank. After the home visit, the application is assessed by the practitioner and an income test is carried out. Leergeld tries to offer customization where possible.

Leergeld has been offering Parkstad for a number of years Squla on and since this year too WRTS. Leergeld buys the products from us at cost price and then passes them on free of charge to the families who apply for them. Squla gives the children fun in learning and extra support for all subjects, WRTS offers a nice alternative to tutoring. Both are welcome in families where the parents can’t always help with schoolwork.

“There are people who really need us, but don’t ask for help out of shame ,” says Fadma. Where previously payment had to be made with checks, the school stuff card has recently been developed. This is a card with money on it. This allows parents to pay directly, for example for school supplies at Hema and Bristol. This makes its use more practical, more anonymous and moreover much more efficient for Leergeld Parkstad.

We briefly look at the future: “ Learning money has a policy plan and every year we review what we will prioritize. I don’t believe we can cure poverty, but I do believe we can do our utmost to help as many children as possible.” The requests are manually reviewed and approved or rejected. While the main goal is to help all children, it is also important to Fadma that the people who do it have fun at Leergeld. There is a paradox here: more applications also mean more work pressure. Fadma does believe in plans for the future, but also emphasizes that today is just as important, especially now that the application pressure is high. “That is where our focus is now, to solve that and to support as many children as possible.”

Leergeld Parkstad works closely with the Nationaal Fonds Kinderhulp, Jarige Job and the Jeugdfonds Sport en Cultuur. Thanks to them, they can support children in four areas: Education, Welfare, Sport and Culture. Do you want to contribute something to Stichting Leergeld Parkstad? Take a look here to see what you can do, or send an email to info@leergeldparkstad.nl.

Are you curious about possibilities for a collaboration with Squla or WRTS? Then send an email to lisa@squla.com.

Futurewhiz’s AI powered Hackathon: The rise of DonkAI Bridge!

Roxy

We recently experienced a whirlwind of creativity, a sleepless night and an incredible display of brain power, during our thrilling two day company hackathon. Armed with skills, determination and pizza, our talented team members gathered at the office to compete and shape the future of education technology using artificial intelligence (AI). Brace yourselves as we recount the highlights, mishaps and ultimate triumphs of this extraordinary event!

First things first, let’s set the stage.

Day one: the air was buzzing with excitement, along with the smell of croissants and coffee. Our Futurewhizzers were divided into 14 formidable teams, each embarking on a mission to revolutionise our platform using AI. Armed with laptops, caffeinated beverages, and an arsenal of snacks, the stage was set for an intense battle of innovation.

The hours ticked away rapidly, as the office transformed into a vibrant hive of activity, from engineers to designers, everyone had a part to play. The coders were feverishly typing lines of code, and the data scientists crunching numbers at the speed of light.  Late night brainstorming sessions gave birth to even more new and ambitious ideas, some more far fetched than others. The atmosphere was a unique blend of focused determination and contagious excitement.

Day two quickly rolled around. With those early morning rays of sunlight creeping through the office windows, teams were greeted to a new day of bleary-eyed enthusiasm. Sleep deprived but motivated, they soldiered on, fueled by another delicious team breakfast – the smell alone was enough to awaken everyone’s creativity! With a ticking clock the teams rushed to finish their pitches before the deadline of 12.00. Time for a well-deserved lunch break! Eventually, the moment of truth arrived, as each team got the chance to showcase their final innovation, and there were some truly great ideas.

And the winners are….

Now, let’s talk about the true heroes in this epic tale – DonkAI Bridge, who certainly took the spotlight to be crowned winners of the Hackathon extravaganza! In the new age of tik toks (and short attention spans) the team wanted to come up with a catchy, creative way for children to memorise difficult words they have trouble with.  Their idea? Using AI, the children will be able to generate a songtext that will help them remember the difficult terms.  AI is then also used to create an actual song out of the songtext, so that the children can listen (and learn) on repeat!

Their quirky name, and infectious energy, as well as hilarious pop culture references won the hearts of everyone present. Not to mention a certain donkey costume which rumour has it took 2 hours (!!) of driving to collect – if that’s not dedication, we don’t know what is!

Fostering Innovation and Creativity

Other teams also pitched great innovations. Some examples: “the finger counters” to help kids with math, a memorising model with spaced repetition, an FAQ Whizard, a personal AI learning buddy, “the storytellers” to learn with stories like Harry Potter or Mario, “Airis” that let you speak with historical figures… and many more great ideas!

The Futurewhiz AI Hackathon was not just about coding and competition, it was about fostering innovation and creativity, as well as great camaraderie between our colleagues. The event has highlighted the incredible potential that AI has to empower students even further. DonkAI Bridge’s triumph showcased the power of humour and imagination in engaging learners, and their victory serves as a reminder that learning should be fun, captivating, and tailored to each individual’s needs. As we move forward, and reflect on our epic hackathon, we will continue to support and nurture such groundbreaking ideas that will continue to shape the future of education.

So, raise your pizza slice to DonkAI Bridge, the tireless organisers who made the hackathon happen, and of course, to all the incredible teams that participated. Together, we are creating a brighter, smarter and more entertaining future of learning for our children. 

Cheers!