The way STEM (science, technology, engineering, and mathematics) is taught in US schools is fundamentally flawed, says the team behind the Atlanta-based startup Inspirit.
The big problem? Real-world applications isn’t front and center within the curriculum.
“Today most STEM learning content is passive and non-interactive with a teacher using a PowerPoint or whiteboard (whether digital or analog) and lecturing to students. It’s no surprise that student outcomes in STEM subjects are abysmal, with about half of students who start a STEM course (online and offline) dropping out before they finish, a large number of instructors looking for better ways to engage learners with STEM content, and 65% of learners feeling unhappy or dissatisfied with their STEM content,” Amrutha Vasan, Inspirit’s Co-Founder & COO, told Hypepotamus.
But the Inspirit team is looking to change that reality…using extended reality (XR).
The EdTEch platform has developed personalized learning modules for teaching mathematics, physics, chemistry, and biology topics. That means students can go inside of a human cell to see exactly how mitochondria works or view a cataract eye surgery up close without leaving their desk.
Its Innovative Learning Hub has also developed trade-related careers training so students can get a sense of jobs in manufacturing, construction, and service industries.
The focus is on providing interactive, immersive learning experiences for K-12 students.
“Our platform is bridging the gap between theoretical concepts and real-world applications — fostering a deeper understanding and measurable increase in engagement among students,” she added. Vasan said the platform provides a “seamless journey for both educators and students” and is available on web or VR devices. The platform integrates into a school’s current curriculum plans in an “easy and intuitive” way for teachers. Schools purchase one site-wide annual license that serves as a “one-stop shop” for all XR curriculum.
CEO Aditya Vishwanath and COO Amrutha Vasan met during their freshman year at Georgia Tech. Viswanath had dedicated much of his undergraduate studies to the emerging XR research. The initial idea for Inspirit was born while working with the College of Computing and CEISMC at Georgia Tech.
With its headquarters still in Atlanta, the team is focused on fusing “pedagogical excellence, cutting-edge research, and immersive XR technology” together.
Rolling The Dice
The startup says now is the right time to integrate XR into classrooms.
“STEM is also ripe for the DICE approach, which is what we use at Inspirit. DICE stands for Dangerous, Impossible, Counterproductive, and Expensive. While technologies like XR help students visualize abstract concepts and improve their learning outcomes in STEM, there is a lack of clarity of when these technologies are an appropriate or ideal medium—and when more conventional formats are preferable,” Vasan told Hypepotamus.
The goal of XR technology isn’t designed to be a one-to-one replacement of everything that happens inside of the classroom, said Vasan.
“There is a misconception that XR is intended for use in digital replicas of school campuses where students spend hours in these virtual worlds as avatars interacting with their peers, doing projects together, and listening to lectures—similar to Minecraft or Roblox. However, the strength of these technologies is their ability to provide humans with special experiences, not unending engagement or for use all day. And this applies to the classroom and teaching curriculum,” Vasan added. The DICE approach challenges the traditional norms of integrating XR into STEM education, and surprisingly, it’s a strategy that holds untapped potential for reshaping the broader educational landscape.”
The team is looking to gain market share across the wide K-12 market. To date, the team has raised “multiple” rounds of capital from both institutional and angel investors.
Atlanta is not traditionally seen known as an EdTech hub. But Inspirit is one of several local startups in the industry looking to change how we learn. Others include TARA (the Techstars-backed company SaaS tool for teachers), Involvvely (a parent and teacher resource tool), Schoolconomy (gift cards for good grades platform), TALIA by AssignGuard (AI tools for professors) and Lingo Plaza (bilingual education for Spanish and English learners).