It’s not easy to bring the latest technologies into the classroom. But one group of entrepreneurs in Seattle has created a tool that may make life easier for teachers and help students maximize their time at school.
MyWorksheets is a new startup with an app that moves paper curriculum — worksheets, homework, etc. — to student tablets within seconds.
The idea was good enough to win first place at Thursday night’s Startup Weekend Northwest Battle, which featured nine past Startup Weekend champions from around the Northwest region — an all-star competition of sorts.
Sam Woodard, who leads the MyWorksheets team, is a former high school math teacher who knows how little time instructors have to find ways to use new technology in the classroom.
“You don’t have time to spend doing extra things,” Woodard said. “When you have the option of choosing between tablets or stuff you already have ready in print, the tablets go to the back of the classroom. It became clear that we needed a way to get these worksheets onto student tablets in seconds.”
The judging panel, made up of Greg Gottesman, Marc Nager, Mike Fridgen, Shauna Causey and Rebecca Lovell, loved the simplicity of the solution.
“You can’t watch the demo without thinking that this team has figured out a better way, both for students and teachers,” said Gottesman, a Managing Director at Madrona Venture Group. “We hope some of the tablet providers will look at an application like this to justify why schools should make an investment in buying tablets. MyWorksheets is a great example of how new technology can make a difference immediately inside the classroom, without changing what the teachers are already doing or forcing them to learn new curriculum.”
Coming in second place was Seattle-based LilyDrive, which describes itself as a “Pinterest for microdonations.” The startup is led by Harrison Magun, a former Microsoft and Amazon vet.
“We really loved this team,” Gottesman said of LilyDrive. “Harrison Magun left a great job at Amazon because he felt the world needs this solution and a better, easier way to support causes they care about.”
And in third place was Bubblr, a startup out of Portland that allows anyone to share and discover music in form of bubbles on an interactive map.
“Tying location to music is novel and struck a chord with the judges,” Gottesman said.
Finally, honorable mention went to two college students from Spokane, who have developed silicon-filled earbuds that fit on any pair of headphones and can block out ambient noises.
“We were impressed with two college students solving a real problem that they were having,” Gottesman said. “This is a classic example of a product that we all would want if this team can bring it to market.”
Here are the rest of the teams that competed, along with a brief description from each startup:
Little Programmers (Seattle)
Little Programmers tries to make computer science theory more accessible to younger children by gamifying core programming concepts into fun puzzle games.
Real World Analytics (Vancouver B.C.)
Real World Analytics has created and made a business out of a product to track consumers via wireless technology that is non invasive.
CareCharts is an app that helps loved ones stay up-to-date with family members and friends going through medical issues.
Almost a Gentleman (Bellingham)
We take young professionals and help them craft themselves into real gentlemen. The transformation goes far beyond just shaving with a straight razor and wearing a fedora. I’s about reefing and defining who you are.
Survis is a customizable, cross-platform review consolidation and analytics dashboard solution for small and medium business owners and managers to monitor their business’s reputation on the various review platforms, like Yelp, Google+, TripAdvisor, FourSquare, OpenTable, CitySearch, and more.
Boomerang is the easiest way to turn unwanted stuff into cash. Boomerang comes to your home or office, picks your unwanted, but valuable, stuff and then sells it for you.