Startup Weekend Seattle kicked off Friday night at the Evergreen School in Shoreline. As part of the global Startup Weekend movement (13 other Startup Weekend events were happening around the world at the same time) the event is an intensive 54 hours where novice entrepreneurs get to pitch their ideas, and if chosen, have a team of like minded individuals spend the weekend helping them germinate their idea.
Keynote speaker Sandi Everlove, Chief Learning Officer for Washington STEM, set the scene by talking about the importance of education tools. She noted that in the past 10 years, STEM jobs have grown three times faster than non-STEM jobs. By 2018, we will see 1.8 million STEM-related job openings nationally. Washington state ranks first in concentration of STEM jobs and fourth in technology-corporations.
Using the state as a microcosm for the rest of the USA, Everlove highlighted a clear disconnect between where jobs are going to be and the education areas of focus. For example half of Washington’s 4th grader receive less than 2 hours of science per week and only 50% of 8th graders met state standards in math and science. More than 50% of Washington’s community college students need remedial courses and less than 5% of STEM degrees are earned by students of color.
So there’s good reason for us to focus on improving education and the learning environment for all students.
After Everlove spoke, 33 individuals shared creative ideas focusing on helping kids learn, teachers teach, and all of us get the education and knowledge we need to be successful in a digitally-charged world. The room voted to pick 10 favorite ideas, and teams were formed to work on each idea over the course of the weekend. For 54 hours the teams worked on their projects, guided by Startup Weekend Edu coaches from a variety of backgrounds.
Then on Sunday night, the 10 teams pitched their ideas a panel of experts. The presentations were hosted by Khalid Smith, education leader of Startup Weekend. Smith explained the presentations were all about telling the story: who you are, a problem, how you want to fix it, and what you need to make that happen. Each team had five minutes (or 300 seconds) to tell that story to the audience and judges.
Frank Catalano of Intrinsic Strategy, Teri Hein of 826 Seattle, Marina Martin from the US Department of Education, and Lisa Castaneda, a teacher at the Evergreen School. The teams were evaluated on a number of factors, including innovation, education impact, customer validation, viability/sustainability, and execution.
The winning team was ClipFolio, a mobile service that would allow teachers to record, organize, and share student work to track progress and guide instruction.
An award was also handed out to the group that showed the most promise for the future. Math Path was a team made up entirely of eighth grade student from the Evergreen School. They combined video games with math learning. The only thing stopping them from success? Lack of experience. Math Path also won crowd favorite, judging by the applause after the presentation.
Here’s a list of the other ideas teams pitched:
- Incentiv.sr: Wager your way to a better you – set a goal with milestones and a deadline, find a buddy, and work to rewards
- Study Sesh: Hybrid mobile app that allows college students to find study partners or groups for their classes
- Code Along: Connects teachers with industry resources and experts to meet technology needs to help them prepare students for work in STEM fields
- File Squid: Computer file organization software for teachers that is visually pleasing
- Magical Petz: Interactive pet for girls that encourages creativity, similar to Lego Mindstorm
- Youniverse: Organize and keep track of online classes from different providers
- CE Connect: Craigslist for finding professional development and continuing education classes
Visit our Livestream channel for an archive of the presentations and stay tuned for a wrap-up video including interviews with organizers, coaches, and more.