This DC edtech company has raised $13 million to teach STEAM in 3D - Technical.ly DC

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Jul. 8, 2016 9:38 am

This DC edtech company has raised $13 million to teach STEAM in 3D

Planet3 will roll out a pilot program at six school districts in Nevada this fall.

Exploring Earth with Planet3.

(Courtesy image)

Imagine learning about volcanos by taking an immersive, 3D dive into one of them; imagine exploring the planet’s geography from the point of view of a satellite.

Would that pique your interest in earth science?

Tim Kelly, CEO of Planet3, thinks that, for many children, this method could be more effective than traditional textbooks. And lucky us — we’ve got the necessary technology.

Planet3 is a D.C.-based edtech company, working to develop a personalized digital learning platform for the STEAM subjects (science, technology, engineering, arts and math). Planet3’s leadership, including Kelly, whose background includes years at National Geographic, sees two main issues in current science education: first, a lack of student interest and second, a shortage of great teachers. Their platform, they hope, can work to solve both of these problems.

Kids these days, Kelly points out, are used to immersive media. It’s how film studios and video game developers and even social media app developers vie for their attention. But thus far the classroom has largely lacked such technology. But Kelly and his team believe that if they can bring science to life with a storytelling-heavy learning experience, “we think we can get many more kids interested in STEAM than is currently the case.”

And for Kelly, an avid conservationist, this could only be a good thing. “We have a beautiful planet,” he said, “but the challenges we face are very difficult … and very interesting. We need to get kids involved in the adventure.”

Planet3’s lead investor, Switch, the Nevada-based developer of the SUPERNAP data centers, agrees — to the tune of $13 million so far.

And they’re close to learning a bit more about how the Planet3 platform will actually work when deployed. The company announced in early June that it will run a pilot program in six school districts in Nevada, starting this fall. The pilot program will take place in at least 25 schools, and will focus on middle-school life and earth sciences. And after receiving feedback and insights direct from the classroom, Planet3 hopes to formally launch in fall 2017.

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Tajha Chappellet-Lanier

Tajha Chappellet-Lanier was the lead reporter for Technical.ly DC. The California native previously worked for NPR and the editorial board at USA Today. She can talk travel plans all day, and has strong opinions on the best doughnut in D.C.

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