Melanie Kong is an Engineering/Math Teacher at the Tesla STEM High School in Lake Washington School District and co-founder of Floop, winner of the 2015 Seattle Startup Weekend EDU and Global Startup Battle Education track. This year’s Startup Weekend EDU is just around the corner, November 18-20, at the Seattle Public Library.
Last Year, Startup Weekend EDU started with rapid-fire pitches. In one minute each, participants shared their idea for improving education. One problem pitched by an educator jumped out to me: Teachers don’t have enough time to give the high-quality feedback that students need. Floop would enable a fast feedback loop between students and teachers. As a high school math and engineering teacher, I related with this problem all too well. I was even carrying around my paper stack of 150 quizzes with the hope that I could grade during downtime.
After the pitches, we formed teams around the ideas that resonated with us. Team Floop was composed of educators, engineers, designers, and product managers. We had only 50 hours to develop our solution, but between the high energy of the event and the de-stressing karaoke sessions, we managed to hack together a prototype, validate our solution, and develop a business plan. Sunday culminated with Demo Day, where we presented our demo of Floop: Students take a picture of their work through the app. Teachers see student work in Floop, drag and drop comments, link videos or practice problems from a bank, and add personalized comments. Students then respond to feedback.
Since that weekend, we’ve continued to work on Floop. We won the Global Startup Battle Education track right after Startup Weekend, learned from teachers at SXSWedu in Austin, TX in March, and are now part of the 4.0 Schools Tiny Fellowship. As Startup Weekend EDU approaches this upcoming weekend, Floop will celebrate its one-year anniversary by volunteering at the event and witnessing the development of new education ideas. Floop is working on a small part of the feedback problem, but as an educator, I can think of a million other solutions I want for my classroom and my students. I want passionate, engaged, compassionate people working on these solutions. We need more teachers and students involved in solving problems in education. We need more people with diverse talents working on good ideas. Startup Weekend EDU enables just that. If you feel like I do, check out Startup Weekend EDU!
For more information, visit the Startup Weekend EDU website. Tickets to the full event are now sold out, but you are still invited to watch the full demos at the Central Library (Level 1 Microsoft Auditorium) on Sunday from 3-6 PM.