Everything is changing, and everybody knows it. There is a palpable sense of anxiety over what the future holds for America and what it means for the coming generations. The new fluid workforce, global economics, and disruptive information technologies are going to have a significant impact on American competitiveness and, as a result, the opportunities that the young generations will grow into.
As Thomas Friedman put it, “People who have the skills to compete globally will do better than ever…but those who don’t – there will increasingly be nothing for them.” Not only are we facing more competition as a whole nation, but within our country itself, the rising generation will have to compete more aggressively than ever before with applicants from all over the globe for the top local jobs.
The obvious answer to this problem is “better education,” but that’s a vague enough mantra to ensure that nothing actually gets done. Rashin Taheri, founder of AppTalia, has gone a step further and started on a project that will be part of the solution America needs. AppTalia offers fun, educational apps specifically designed to answer kids’ questions about the world in a way that gets them excited about physics, biology, chemistry, the human body, and more. AppTalia takes the early education that is desperately lacking in this country and packages it into something kids choose to learn during a crucial development time.
Taheri comes from an IT background. She never thought about creating her own company until her three-year-old daughter started asking lots of “why” questions (“The moon is a circle. The other night it was a banana. Why?”). She Googled the answer, explained it, and then found herself repeating this process enough to go to the app store to look for something her daughter could use. She found a million reading and math apps, but nothing for science that targeted her daughter’s age. So, like any good entrepreneur, she decided to fill the gap herself. She has now created five apps with thousands of downloads.
Taheri and AppTalia give us a glimpse of the future of early childhood education. Everything is interactive, voluntary, portable, and fun. Which will be more effective in increasing STEM jobs in the long term: trying to force high school students to take extra science classes, or having an on-demand app suite that can encourage a child’s natural wonder about how snowflakes form and why the moon is a banana sometimes? My money is on Taheri, and those like her, who are using smart technology to unlock the power of education for the next generation.
AppTalia was a showcased startup at our Tech Cocktail DC mixer.