Mendeleev.me - The Story
The story of the Mendeleev.me project begins in 2012 with a team of four creative young people, passionate about software and technology: Alexandru Kertesz, Daniel Luca, Victor Calomfir and Cristian Stama.
At that time, they were subcontracted for the development of some apps for the “Petru Poni - Cernătescu” and “Mihail Kogalniceanu” museums in Iași, Romania.
And although it was the first time they worked together as a team, they found the perfect recipe for a good collaboration: communication.
Thus, the team came up with the idea to develop an interactive application for the “Petru Poni - Cernătescu” museum: Mendeleev's Periodic Table of Elements.
All that they had to do next, was to choose the technology with which to develop the app and of course the hardware.
In one of their brainstorming sessions they came up with the idea to add four chemical experiments: simple, effective, but well known to all the students familiar with chemistry.
And here they were busy compiling information about all the chemical elements, about the different experiments and also about the life of Dmitri Ivanovich Mendeleev himself.
They did not feel pressured by deadlines, in fact working with nostalgia for the years spent in school. They remembered the hours of chemistry, polymers and phenols, the “cram”, the fact that they had to search the manual for information about the chemical elements and that sometimes, in laboratories, there were no reagents.
This is how they understood that their dream for a better education lied in their ability to innovate and to translate the disadvantages of the educational system into reality.
And so, came the day when the museum should have been inaugurated: a cold winter day when everything seemed frozen in time.
Renovated, with the aura of an aristocrat ready to go out into the world, the museum waited anxiously for the titled politicians and the enlightened heads of the ministry of education.
They whispered to each other that it was going to be a beautiful reception and that the software app would make its mark on the big museum scene.
But it was too cold for their big dreams, for visitors and especially for education.
And so, with the bitter taste of obvious defeat, they consoled themselves with some hot tea, chit-chatting and the sincere appreciations of the museum curators.
Quickly, a question landed in the scene: “When will you implement this interactive periodic table in schools?”.
Such a terrible question. This orphaned child called education was gracefully thrown into their frail arms.
The guys were polite and quickly digressed with another question:
“Do you know, madam, what we were looking for in Vienna last week?”
“Well, what were you looking for?” a curator asked them curiously.
“Let us tell you what we were looking for. Around 4 AM in the morning we were in the freight hub near Vienna. We were waiting for the beginning of the program in our car. We had to pick up the hardware for the software application. In the background, the sounds of our colleague Cristi's game. He clearly had a passion for colored candies, but especially his eyes were as big as onions. He kept encouraging himself to stay awake until the program began in the hub. We all fell asleep quietly and slept soundly. We slept so well, that the hardware was already in transit to another hub – destination: Romania 😊
Coffee is a bit expensive in Vienna, isn't it?”
Eventually the hardware arrived safely in Iași, Romania. The app was also ready but there was no inauguration, no visitors, no pomp, nor cookies or champagne. Only the cold and silence after the lost battle: with the weather, with themselves, with the education and the system.
So, what. It was ugly outside anyways. Their digital star-child had his home now and it was time for them to head to other destinations.
Many years have passed over them, each one with his own road, projects, people, places and stories.
But Daniel Luca kept thinking about the curator's question.
In 2016, when he became a parent for the first time, he asked himself all kinds of questions about the future of his kids and all the other kids in general.
He asked himself what he could offer to the world besides the usual things in life.
Inevitably he came up with one answer: Education.
“The education of the first seven years of life and more. The education that if you want something, you can do it. That if you have a dream, you must follow it. That any small gesture can change people's lives for the better. That a failure does not mean the end of the road, but the beginning of a better one. That setting high goals shows responsibility and provides a powerful example to others.”
At Agile Flex Agency, Daniel Luca & his new team reshaped the project through continuous iterations.
Everything under a slogan that would dictate its future course: “Mendeleev.me – The fun way of learning chemistry together”.
“We've used the 'Design Thinking' paradigm to reshape the project so that it would become a true catalyst for digitisation.”
“Our mission is to educate younger generations through technology. Chemistry is one of the fascinating matters and its value is given by the quality of the educational act.
We strongly believe that education must include elements that stimulate visual cognitive processes and also inspire students to enjoy the process of learning.”
The project's Timeline:
- 2017 - The Mendeleev.me website was launched in Romanian & English
- 2018 - The iPad version of the Mobile App was published in the App Store
- 2019 - The Mobile App was available for both iPhone and iPad
- 2019 - The App received the Platinum Award for the Best Designed Mobile App
- 2019 - At the end of the year the website was nominated by Awwwards for web innovation
- 2020 - The Mobile App and the website were already available in 10 languages: Romanian, English, Russian, German, French, Italian, Spanish, Turkish, Chinese (Simplified) and Japanese.
- 2020 - The Mobile App was awarded by Coca Cola at WebStockAwards
The project has grown organically due to its design, language support, content and also due to the feedback provided by users around the world.
Mendeleev.me provides to all the students, teachers and chemistry enthusiasts:
- Concise information for all chemical elements
- A virtual laboratory with exciting packs of chemistry experiments
- Multi-language support for English, Romanian, German, Russian, French, Italian, Spanish, Turkish, Chinese & Japanese
- “In memoriam Chernobyl”
- Hidden app secrets
- Quick search & in-place information filtering
- Downloadable PDFs for each chemical element
- Presentation galleries & movie-clips
- Support for iPhone, iPad, all major browsers (including IE9) and screens up to 8K
“With a clear purpose (education through digitisation) the project has become today what we imagined it should have been back in 2012. Our dream come true and we want its story to be a source of inspiration for everyone”.
Fun facts about the Mobile App:
- The chemistry experiments also contain hidden secrets just waiting to be discovered
- A tap on Mendeleev’s face on the “About” & “Search” screens, reveals less known things about Mendeleev's tumultuous life
- The “Chernobyl” experiment is a tribute to all its heroes:
- It cannot be accessed directly, but unlocked with a code that the user must first discover
- After unlocking it, the user can choose to press or not the legendary AZ-5 button
- At the end of the experiment, fascinating facts about the Chernobyl tragedy are presented
- The website is visited by an average of 600 people every day
- In 2019, the iOS App was installed on: 70% phones and 30% tablets
- In 2020 (2nd quarter) the percentages was reversed
- In just one day the Mobile App was downloaded by 90,000 users
- Romania is on the 19th place in the top of mobile downloads, but on the 2nd place for the website visits
- China rules the top of downloads for the Mobile App category
- Website: https://mendeleev.me
- iOS App: https://apps.apple.com/us/app/mendeleev-me/id1372490675
- Press Kit: https://mendeleev.me/PressKit
- LinkedIn: https://www.linkedin.com/company/mendeleev-me
- Facebook: https://www.facebook.com/mendeleev.me/
- Twitter: https://twitter.com/MendeleevMe
👏 Many thanks to all the contributors & users around the world.