(Screenshot via summer.inventxyz.com)
A new summer program from tech education startup inventXYZ is inviting students in grades eight through 12 to remotely develop their tech skills in a way that connects digital tools and skills to the traditional school classroom.
In response to the COVID-19 pandemic, inventsummer will use three remote tech projects to help students learn coding language Python, electronics and data visualization. The projects will also help students connect the work in tech to traditional classroom subjects.
Students will receive kits in the mail with the parts needed to code a COVID-19 simulator (which will incorporate statistics lessons), build and code a retro Pong video game (algebra), and code a car autopilot controller (physics). Video chats two to three times a week a week will allow students to get feedback from mentors with experience from firms like Google. The virtual six-week session costs $499.
inventXYZ founder and CEO Nikil Ragav, a University of Pennsylvania class of 2020 engineering and business grad, won Penn’s 2020 President’s Innovation Award for his proposal discussing the startup’s plan to provide hands-on technical education to students nationwide via school-based collaborative work spaces. As the winning selection among 64 entries, Ragav’s award includes $100,000 and a $50,000 living stipend.
Ragav has been long interested in STEM and hands-on learning. He told Technical.ly he remembers his difficulty in finding a mentor in his hometown of Sugar Land, Texas as one of his biggest inspirations in creating inventXYZ.
“In middle and high school, I came up with a musical instrument for percussionists to use, but in school there was no place to make an invention and there were no mentors,” he said.
Tech skills are becoming more important for professionals in a world where automation is quickly replacing people and ending jobs in different industries, Ragav said. Pattern recognition, repetitive work, computer vision and artificial intelligence can allow robots and systems to execute the same work previously done by people.
With his passion for seeing students get the tech tools they need to succeed, Ragav has advice for students planning to join the tech industry.
“I think you should rely on your strengths and passions to create something useful for people,” he said. “For inventXYZ, our team in general has strengths in developing fun projects and tech understanding, but what also works is being able to explain stuff clearly to someone else.”
Memories of being overwhelmed as a ninth grader trying to build a dictionary app helped teach Ragav the value of collaboration.
“Looking to make an app that helps people, does virus tracking or helps older people order groceries is a big project to tackle,” he said. “You shouldn’t expect to be able to finish this project by yourself, so reach out to people on Twitter, friends. With inventXYZ, we’re trying to streamline and collect resources in a way that is understandable so people don’t get lost.”
Ragav hopes for inventXYZ to be in 50 to 100 schools in the next five years and have at least one product in individual classes. The deadline to apply for the 2020 inventsummer program is July 1.
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