About Our Team
Aha!Boxes was initiated by the Vienna University Children’s Office in Austria and the Manthan Educational Program
Society and Hands-On Educational Resources in Ahmedabad/India. We have a long history in science communication and education for children and young people and we are delighted to bring into the project our experiences from different cultural backgrounds.
Project Director Europe
Karoline Iber has a Master degree in Educational Science and is also trained in museums pedagogy and business management. She is the founder and managing director of the Vienna University Children’s Office and co-initiator and project leader of “KinderuniWien” (”Children’s University Vienna”). She is a former member of the rector’s office and lecturer at the University of Vienna.
“What if children could explore the whole world with simple learning materials? Our idea is to create a new form of mini-experimentation boxes that allow new perspectives on one’s life. Through the boxes we want to provide a wide range of connections that provide simple guidance for research, without taking away the independent thinking that motivates children to develop their own solutions and so allows them to open up for local based innovation ideas.”
Project Director India
Kathan Kothari a professionally trained Communication Designer from the National Institute of Design, has been actively involved in scaling the thought of making science accessible, interesting, innovative, experimental, exploratory and mainly fun by exploring different communication media. His expertise in design has brought life to the projects he is involved in. He has been involved in conceptualising designing hands on kits, communication material and Exhibitions for the last one decade. He believes in making science education not just merely a subject but a method of living. Academically involved in several design institutes, he shares the concept of Sustainability amongst larger masses.
Through the AHA Boxes we promote a Hands-on, Brains on approach towards innovative learning. The AHA boxes concept has been encapsulated with the concept of joy of learning and bringing curiosity amongst children.”
Ideas Lab Director India
Abhay Kothari the Director of Manthan Educational Programme Society, India, has been bringing new dimensions in Science communication in India for the last three decades. An Expert in conceptualizing, developing and designing low cost science activities for the masses. Instrumental in enriching the lives of several thousands of rural and tribal level community members by bringing Science, Technology and Entrepreneurship at the heart of their lives for bringing sustainability. He has conducted workshops and presented papers at several professional science and technology organizations globally.
“We at Manthan strive to make science education accessible to all the strata’s of the society in India. We want to arouse the curiosity of children through hands-on science education. I strongly believe in the concept of freedom of thought and openness of education adopting creative methods of science communication for igniting the sparks in the mind of the people. The next generation should be of solution seekers and problem solvers, bringing innovation at the core of all the thought, make the world a better place to live, enjoy and flourish.”
Ideas Lab Director Europe
Chris Gary is a sociologist and expert in project design and finances. He works for many years in project development and management in the Vienna University Children’s Office. He was and is responsible also for quality control and evaluation issues, and coordinated and participated in many EU-funded projects starting with ECFUN (FP6-SiS) up to recent Horizon 2020 projects.
When you bring seemingly strange things together, new ideas emerge. We brought together children and scientists, India and Austria, research and crafts. What connects us all is amazement and enthusiasm for something new and we all know the moment when something suddenly becomes clear and we say AHA, as scientists, as children, as craftsmen, in Austria and in India.
Community Manager Europe
Cyril Dworsky is archaeologist and cultural heritage manager. 2005 he started to give lectures and workshops at the Vienna Children’s University. Since 2008 he works in the Vienna University Children’s Office as a project developer and manager for international programmes in science communication and science engagement. He is the International Liaison Coordinator and member of the executive board of the European Children’s Universities Network. As an expert for underwater archaeology he successfully coordinated the Austrian part of the nomination of the UNESCO World Heritage Prehistoric Pile Dwellings around the Alps and is responsible for the management of the Austrian components of this serial UNESCO World Heritage since 2012. A current focus in his work is to develop sustainable structures for citizen science programmes for children, young people and adults and open innovation in cultural heritage management. He is a member of various advisory and scientific boards and published various articles about science communication and archaeological topics.
“We started the AHA BOX project because we realized that despite all the cultural differences between Austria and India we share some fundamental visions about curiosity and life-long learning. We are eager to offer a holistic view on the world to the children and to inspire them with well-developed and moreover fun activities.”
Swati Jangir Kothari
Community Manager India
Swati Jangir a professionally trained Craft Textile Designer from the Indian Institute of Crafts and Design, has been involved in researching traditional crafts from the country, experimenting with rare diminishing craft techniques and evolving ideas with craft communities to bring sustainability in their economic activities. She along with several organisations and crafts people, has been working on the concept of developing crafts community as a brand having range of products. Experimenting with new designs and techniques, a bespoke who has been working in the field with rural craft artisans to create a new contemporary form of sustainable designs for several diminishing art forms.
“Crafts are heritage and asset for a country. A sustainable link has to be established between the crafts and the modern world. I believe children are the future and crafts is our knowledge. Thus it is very important to share this knowledge to the future generation in a more hands-on manner.”
Members of the Aha!Design Team
“I want to become a graphic designer because the future is bright. I understand that graphic design work is complicated, but I like to use my brain while working. So my aim is to become a graphic designer.”
“I joined the graphic design because I believe that even people with 80% physical disability can operate a computer. A computer is easy to operate and easy work and so I would also like to teach my friends.”
“I am involved in graphics design work because I was not happy with my previous jobs. This project connects mind and work so I enjoy it. I have made this my mission.”
“We have not been able to grow in other field. I am involved in this initiative because I have to use brain and computer for imagination. For my disability a computer is very comfortable to use. In other jobs we would need to do very hard work but will not gain much knowledge and neither good rewards. I have become a part of this project, so that I can learn new techniques, tools and software related to design and also learn about other things like nature, color, ideas, etc.”
“I have joined graphic design work because I feel that graphic design is the best field. I believe that the demand of graphic design is very high. I only have one thumb and the computer is the only tool, which I can operate. It’s my dream to teach all my disabled friend, the use of computer for a successful future life.”