Words by Tess Becker
Finding ways to make education more interesting and fulfilling is something teachers everywhere grapple with. Take that and all the education lost to the pandemic as students had to learn from home, there has been an educational decline for many.
This was something Sophia Libman took to heart. It was incredibly important to her that people get the education that they need while trying to find an interesting way to do it. So she founded X-Time.
“I really wanted to find a way for children to explore and engage in educational activities from their home because it was right in the midst of the pandemic,” Sophia tells Smiley News. “And so we started with free online classes, and have now expanded to in-person classes, summer camps, and explore stations.”
Sophia herself is still incredibly young: only a junior in high school, and she started X-Time just over two years ago. She saw something that was happening around her and wanted to make a difference.
Put succinctly, her favorite part of everything in her programs is the children and seeing them grow. “I love seeing how excited they are and engaged when working with us,” Sophia says. “So in our summer camps or in-person classes, their excitement is contagious.”
A lot of the work Sophia does is providing educational accessibility to kids who may not have options otherwise.
“For me, it's really important that children have access to these fun educational materials,” Sophia says. “We try to reach underserved communities, children in hospital settings, for example. I make sure I'm able to provide that because I had the chance when I was younger to find my passion by trying a lot of different activities.
“I want to be able to provide that for others.”
Since its inception in 2020, X-Time has had more than 300 student registrations for classes taught by professors from the University of Illinois, Rose Hulman Institute of Technology, local business owners, published authors, and K-12 teachers. The classes range across the board from standard school subjects like math and science to even things like ballet, hip-hop, and martial arts.
The educational materials take the form of X-Plore stations that condense the material into entertaining and digestible chunks. And the stations themselves are specialized for different environments depending on the needs of the kid.
“When at hospitals, it was really important that I communicated closely with a child life specialist, as they know what materials can one be easily sanitized and are good for children to be able to use inside the hospital environment,” Sophia says.
“Where an X-Plore station in a community center looks a little different as a lot of the materials can be touched multiple times, they're not sanitized after each use, so I think that's been a really big learning point for me, making sure we're really meeting the needs of our location and the needs of the community as well.”
Ultimately, Sophia wants to help kids learn in whatever way she can.
“I just want them to be excited to learn, excited to be able to have access to materials, and be able to find their passion,” Sophia says. “I think it's really important that you're able to find your spark something that you get excited about and are interested in learning and so being able to provide children with all these different activities, I hope that they can find their passion and take that with them.”
Find out more about getting involved or how you can support X-Time on their website.