Domestic, Elementary / Primary / Junior, Investors, Required, STEM / Science, Technology, Education, Math, Technology - Written by Elbert Chu on Saturday, August 6, 2011 7:35 - 0 Comments
Airy Labs Scores $1.5M to Create Neuroscience Gaming World for Kids
by Elbert Chu
It should come as no surprise that the inaugural class of Peter Thiel funded drop-outs have some ideas about how to improve education. Recap: Thiel, Paypal co-founder, is paying smart kids $100,000 to leave school and start businesses.
What is interesting is that five of the 24 fellows (yes, it’s called 20 under 20) have chosen to focus their projects to tackle the education conundrum with technology.
Andrew Hsu’s Airy Labs has attracted the attention of $1.5 M in seed funding. The lead investor is Foundation Capital, but includes the likes of Google Ventures and Playdom.
Hsu, a fourth year Stanford University neuroscience Ph.D. candidate when Thiel came calling, he wants to apply his brainy neuroscience ideas to help kids, 6-13, to learn through the Airy Labs world. Hsu writes:
“The core of our world is the curriculum of carefully crafted puzzles, questions, and games that we use to teach kids. Our games are designed to use neuroscience principles on how the brain learns to ensure that students take in and retain information in their memories effectively.
If that isn’t ambitious enough, he wants kids to have fun while they learn life lessons. Hsu says he’ll accomplish this through a rich multiplayer online role-playing game (MORPG):
“We are designing the next-generation learning platform powered by neuroscience research findings, Multiple Intelligence theory, social networking, and gaming technology. At its core is a sophisticated and powerful adaptive engine that provides individualized learning content based on the strengths and weaknesses of a particular student.
While gamification is hardly new, it sounds to us like Hsu might have some genuinely new ideas to bring to the table. Combine his massive brain, momentum from Thiel’s stamp of approval, a couple of dollars from investors, and here’s hoping Airy Labs can deliver on its lofty promises.
We notice that Airy Labs has a section for Junior Testers, we’d love to hear from you in the comments if you’re one of them.
Here’s a quick low down from Thiel’s foundation on the four other Thiel fellows who are working on projects for education:
Nick Cammarata and David Merfield are working on OPEN, a project that aims to flip the industrial-scale classroom experience. OPEN is a tool used by teachers to create and share online lessons designed to be viewed at home by their own students, leaving class time free for more engaging activities.
John Marbach’s start-up Ingenic, wants to leverage web-based videos and mobile apps to bring the classroom into the twenty-first century.
Dale Stephens leads UnCollege, a social movement that applies the methods of unschooling—the self-directed brand of homeschooling with which he was raised—to the realm of higher education. Now he is building a platform called RadMatter to revolutionize how we develop and demonstrate talent in the twenty-first century.
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