Eric Hansen, BU COM 2021
In the 1910s, we rode horses in the streets and students would meet in a school classroom with a teacher lecturing in the front of the class. Students would raise their hand if they had a question. In 2020, 1.4 billion cars are on the road, some electric, and a QR code can store more combinations than there are particles in the observable universe, but schools have not changed much at all.
How is this possible? I believe that video content portfolios will soon replace paper and digital resumes, and AI bots will be able to tutor students in any subject. Have schools prepared our children for any of these changes? Have they prepared students to be creators and innovators in the coming decades?
The National Education Association suggests that “The Four Cs - creativity, critical thinking, communication, and collaboration - are the skills most important for 21st century learning. The challenge is building these skill sets into K-12 education.” But in the Harvard Business Review article, “America’s Looming Creativity Crisis,” author, Richard Florida, reports that the US is not even in the top ten countries on The Global-Creative Class Index. SpecGraphixEDU (SGEDU) is my way of helping schools to further embrace technology in order to unleash the creativity of today’s students.
Our startup story began when I was in the eighth grade. It was born of my frustration and loneliness. I was invisible to classmates and misunderstood by them because of my challenges learning traditional academic subjects. But that changed one day when I asked my science teacher if I could make a video instead of a PowerPoint presentation for a class project. He agreed and his decision changed my life—I became a legend overnight, and it gave me more confidence than I’d ever had before. It was a turning point in my life.
Since then, I have pursued my interest in film production. At the same time, I’ve had an interest in elementary education as a result of my struggles, as well as a drive to start my own company. As a film production major at Boston University, I became involved in the BU Build Lab Student Innovation Center, where my interests came together, and I had the support and resources I needed to start my company. SpecGraphixEDU, an education startup, has been offering after school and online creativity-based classes to elementary school students since early 2019. Across the Brookline School District, we have served over 1,000 students.
Our focus in the classroom is on innovation and enabling student creativity. This focus and the ongoing expansion of our in-house technologies is outside the box and against tradition. We have engaging lectures utilizing an engaging animated cartoon. The cartoon replaces the traditional scripted lecture, and teaches students the foundational elements they need to comprehend as they then move on to the hands-on job of applying their creativity under the leadership and nurturing of the teacher. This not only keeps the quality of the classes consistent across schools as we expand, but also keeps the material consistent so all students can reach the same level of aptitude.
We have a reputation in Brookline for offering very advanced classes. Parents don’t expect the raw knowledge and creative results their children bring home. This is due to a university curriculum specifically tailored for kids ages 6 and up. How we do it is a trade secret—but what I will say is it’s been tested with over 500 students and they love it.
We have an enormous amount of custom software and intellectual property. Our biggest innovations include the FukoBot (previously known as the Niña AI Assistant) which is an instructional chat bot to assist students. It works 100% offline and is COPPA compliant. Our Advanced Green Screen Engine, or Av, is a CGI software for kids that allows them to drag and drop 3D dinosaurs, tornados, and over 600 other effects on top of any video. SGEDU Grow is a QR Code software that tracks student performance so teachers and aides can ensure that all students are keeping up with the class. Finally, the SGEDU Foreign Language Assisted Learning (FLAL) is a special curriculum and built-in feature for all SGEDU Software which supports native Chinese, Japanese, Korean, and Spanish-speaking students.
During the COVID-19 pandemic, SpecGraphixEDU is helping families cope with the challenges of remote learning with online creativity-based classes for kids ages 7 and up. Any child from around the world can sign up on the SpecGraphixEDU website at www.bnsbc.tv/sgedu.
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