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BRINGING INNOVATIVE APPROACHES TO EDUCATION AT STARTUP WEEKEND BATON ROUGE

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Have you ever wanted to meet up with a bunch of strangers, share your ideas for new companies or technology and then recruit those strangers to help you? Oh, and finish the whole business plan and make a pitch to some judges roughly 48 hours later?

If you think that sounds intense, you’re not alone. But this intensity is a key part of the Startup Weekend concept, an immersive program that gets you quickly through the earliest stage of starting your business. Startup Weekend Baton Rouge was held recently as part of Baton Rouge Entrepreneurship Week (BREW), and organizers decided to narrow the focus this year by having each team focus on a common topic (education), rather than the “anything goes” approach taken in years past.

In keeping with that theme, the event was held at Teach for America offices. Four teams developed innovative plans to enhance many aspects of education, including transportation, scientific research, and staffing. Here’s what they came up with.
 

<Experience>

The winning team was <Experience>, whose name is a play on the format for HTML tags and highlights its members’ interest in providing computer science industry experience to students. <Experience> pitched a web application that would give real-world job experience to students studying computer science, information systems and decision sciences at LSU and other universities.

Tech companies would purchase the service and assign students industry-level projects to work on while they’re in school. The tech companies would get cheaper labor and out-of-the-box thinking from students; the students would get to explore different niche projects and gain real-world experience before leaving school, increasing their chances for successful employment within their field after graduation.

The ultimate goal of <Experience> is to close the gap between a fast-paced workforce and slower-paced academia by providing resources to help students learn the skills required in this industry. The judges thought the team was well on its way to accomplishing that and said this project would help with “the age-old problem of needing a job to get a job.”
 

E-sub

E-sub says it wants to be like Angie’s List for substitute teachers. When a teacher in East Baton Rouge Parish needs to be off for a day, their spot is filled by calling down a list of substitutes until someone is found who can come in — but the sub may not specialize in the original teacher’s subject.

E-sub aims to create a network of substitute teachers and show their education and teaching specialties, if applicable, plus ratings and reviews. If a teacher needs to be absent, they could log in to the E-sub service and choose a substitute based on the information available. For example, a physics teacher could pick a physics or science teacher to take over their class and not risk a sub being assigned who isn’t as familiar with the material, putting the students and returning teacher a day behind.
 

SWedo Labhub

So many scientific experiments happen in classrooms all over the country; what happens to that data? SWedo Labhub aims to turn crowdsourced data into a collaborative experience. Judges and participants likened it to MATLAB or GitHub, but for science experiments.

Under the team’s proposal, a class would do an experiment and upload their information. Another class could replicate that experiment exactly to increase the sample size, or replicate most of it but change a slight variable to see how it alters the results. In the end, both classes would get more information to learn from.

On a bigger scale, these results could reinforce the scientific inquiry done in schools and add to data acquired outside of schools. Trends could be detected, more graphic analysis could be done and cross-correlation would be possible. The team envisions this as something to benefit high-school students, university students and homeschoolers.
 

Bold Buses

Bold Buses seeks to address a very common issue: lack of communication between schools, bus drivers/companies and families. The Bold Buses platform would aim to solve all of this with an interactive program to communicate between the three.

The program would have GPS so parents and schools could see where buses are located and tell whether a vehicle is running early or late. There would also be auto-routing if any traffic incidents were detected and could be avoided. Bus drivers could tap photos of students as they get on or off the vehicle to alert parents specifically where their child is at all times. Schools and families could update student addresses, and any incidents could be immediately reported to the school and families of any students involved.

Stephen Loy