Looma Presentation at Menlo School
by Simran Arora
Sienna Stritter and I are the two high school members of the Looma team and we both attend Menlo School in Atherton, California. On November 31st, 2012, we presented Looma at a business school workshop held by one of the most popular and innovative programs at Menlo called M-BEST: Menlo’s Bridge to Engineering, Science and Technology. The program aims to encourage student participation in science, technology, engineering and math (referred to as STEM by those in the field). The two teacher leads for the program, Joanie Banks of Stanford University and Grace Limaye of Princeton University, were interested in having Sienna and I discuss our involvement and experience in a start up company.
During the presentation, Sienna and I explained Looma and discussed our personal goals for the summer. This past summer, we focused on building team communication, participating in brainstorming sessions (e.g., for product name and company logo), organizing data (e.g. for research on Nepalese Schools), working on hardware design, and helping to host guest speakers who came to discuss Looma. An exciting part of the hardware engineering was when we helped create a 3D wand-prototype using Menlo’s 3D printer.
A highlight of the presentation was our Looma demonstration. On November 20th, 2012, the first self-contained Looma came alive in the Menlo Park VillageTechSolutions office. Eight days later, five Loomas arrived in Nepal and they are currently being tested in Nepalese schools. Using these completed Loomas, Sienna and I demoed the whiteboard functions, the implemented Nepalese curriculum and textbooks by grade, the Wi-Fi connectivity, and many other features.
Our audience included Menlo students from 7-12th grade, teachers, and business leaders from around the Silicon Valley. Susan Ford Dorsey, Sand Hill Foundation founder and Menlo School Board Chair, said she enjoyed the presentation and was appreciative of Looma’s efforts. Also, many students were more motivated to participate in a summer internship after hearing about our experience. Looma’s mission is to provide more enhanced and engaging education in third-world countries. Teachers and students could relate to the excitement of Looma: here in California, smart-boards, Internet connection, and technological devices are such a regular part of everyday life.
Personally, I had a great time volunteering with VillageTech Solutions this summer. Internships are a great way to begin exploring career options and to develop business skills. I learned more about careers in engineering, marketing, education, and business management. Also, when the team toured a couple of engineering centers around the Bay Area, including IDEO and the Tech Shop, I learned about the best ways to brainstorm, design products, and execute. The most exciting aspect was that as I learned such valuable skills, I was helping to create a product with the power to boost the quality of education and to inspire an interest in learning for students around the world.