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May. 6, 2013 11:00 am

Knick Knack Learning: Wilco Electronic Sys. launches low-cost tablet startup

Wilco Electronic Systems last week launched Knick Knack Learning, an edtech company that will offer a low-cost tablet with STEM-focused content. Initially backed by the Eisenhower Fellowship Organization, Knick Knack Learning will pilot the tablet at five Philadelphia public and charter schools this May

Students use the Knick Knack Learning tablet at the company's launch last week. Photo courtesy of Brownstone PR.

Wilco Electronic Systems last week launched Knick Knack Learning, an edtech company that will offer a low-cost tablet with STEM-focused content.

Initially backed by the Eisenhower Fellowship Organization, Knick Knack Learning will pilot the tablet at five Philadelphia public and charter schools this May, reaching 200 students in 5th and 6th grade, according to a release. The tablet’s content aims to improve student performance on math and science areas on standardized tests using gamification.

Knick Knack Learning will also offer a software platform, developed in collaboration with Northern Liberties web dev shop Jarvus Innovations, that will allow for engagement between students, teachers, parents and administrators, as well as provide a way to track student performance. The platform is an iteration of SLATE, the Jarvus-backed high school learning management tool that soft launched early last year, said Jarvus Innovations cofounder Chris Alfano.

The schools that will pilot the Knick Knack program include:
  • Independence Charter School in Southwest Center City
  • Richard Allen Preparatory Charter Academy in West Philly
  • Pan American Academy Charter School in Fairhill, North Philly
  • Global Leadership Academy in West Philly
  • Penrose Elementary School in Southwest Philly

The root of the partnership is a story of interconnected organizations.

Brigitte Daniel, Wilco’s executive vice president and daughter of the company’s founder, took a personal interest in the issue of digital access in recent years, helping advise city computer literacy network KEYSPOT, which helped earn her a spot in the prestigious Eisenhower fellowhship program. Through the program, she traveled in Southeast Asia to see other digital divide efforts, which connected her to this tablet manufacturer in India and helped incubate the idea.

The edtech focused Jarvus team further connected with Daniel through the AT&T Edutech hackathon, though it had begun working with Daniel before then. Daniel hopes to use this pilot as a way to grow the program and continue to evolve her family business — a cable operator largely funded by its contracted relationship with the Philadelphia Housing Authority.

“I think this can grow into something that will change a lot,” said Daniel at an OpenAccessPhilly stakeholder meeting Friday inside CultureWorks. “We can learn a lot about doing this better.”

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Juliana Reyes

Juliana Reyes began as lead reporter at Technical.ly Philly in July 2012. Previously, she was a city services beat reporter for the Philadelphia Daily News, as part of a project called “It’s Our Money.” She is learning to drive, learning to bike (in the city) but is an expert at taking SEPTA. She grew up in North Jersey and Manila, Philippines but she left the tropics for Bryn Mawr College, where she majored in linguistics. She now lives in West Philly.

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