On October 22 and 23, LearnLaunch hosted the LearnLaunch Innovation Space for edtech startups at the MassCUE Annual Technology Conference. Massachusetts Computer Using Educators (MassCUE) and the Massachusetts Association of School Superintendents co-sponsored the event with the goal of bringing together over 1,800 Massachusetts educators to discuss the newest ways to help empower students through technology. In between workshops, TED-like talks, and keynote presentations, conference attendees explored the LearnLaunch Innovation Space, which included 35 companies that offer edtech products and services for educators.
For those not able to attend the conference, below are three of the companies that were featured in the LearnLaunch Innovation Space:
Who: Paul Henderson, Co-founder
Why: Paul is married to a teacher and also has over 25 years of business experience. Paul believes that education is the highest priority for any community and that teachers play a central role in delivering a great education. He wanted to do something to make teachers’ lives easier so that they could help their students more effectively.
What: Paul co-founded CourseKicker with Christopher Sipe, a middle school science teacher. CourseKicker provides a platform for teachers to find the best lesson plans to help their students. Teach 9th graders Spanish 2 and need ideas for a lesson plan to supplement teaching past tenses? Run your search through CourseKicker’s platform and you will get top-rated lesson plans built by other 9th grade teachers. The result: no need to hassle with a random internet search only to find something that you can’t use.
Who: Rita Chesterton, Co-founder
Why: Rita, a former teacher and technology specialist, was fortunate to work for a school that decided to go 1:1 using iPads. While she appreciated the new hardware, she realized that the software for the iPads wasn’t organized in a way that made it easy to use during a class. She was determined to build a software solution for iPads that would help her colleagues and students better utilize the new hardware they received from their district.
What: Rita founded Skaffl with the goal of building an app that would allow teachers to run their assignments through an iPad. Teachers can use Skaffl to distribute and collect assignments, provide feedback, grade assignments, and check student progress. Students can then have all of their assignments, research capacities, and constructive feedback in their iPad. The result: a much smoother learning experience for both teachers and students.
Who: Zeke Alvarez-Saavedra, Founder
Why: Zeke grew up in Argentina and was always interested in science. However, he never had access to the technology necessary to study science at a higher level. When he moved to the US, he assumed that students had access to more advanced scientific machines. However, he was surprised to discover a similar lack of scientific hardware in schools. He wanted to find a way to bring more sophisticated scientific machines to classrooms to help get students excited about higher level science.
What: Zeke and his team invented miniPCR to help kids experience DNA in a classroom. Zeke said that while many people remember dissecting a frog in science class, they don’t remember learning about DNA. However, since DNA helps society improve its crops, solve murder mysteries, and inform medical treatments, it’s important for students to get excited about DNA. Traditional PCR machines, which allow scientists to break down DNA and see the differences between people, have traditionally been too large and expensive for high schools. Zeke’s product breaks down both of these barriers. The result: students can experience DNA the same way they experience dissecting frogs and as a result will likely become more interested in the future of DNA science.
What to learn about more of Boston’s newest edtech products and services? Join other local education innovators tomorrow to learn about how student privacy affects edtech startups at the K-12 Student Privacy Panel.