Learning in the living room: Israeli start-up improves academic performance


Israeli children in second grade. Photo: Kobi Gideon / Flash90.

CTech – Educators are constantly looking for a tailor-made solution for children with educational difficulties. Now technology has found a way to make it happen. Parents and therapists are looking for ways to diagnose children’s learning disabilities early to better meet their needs in classrooms, while trying to understand the abilities of top performing children to help them monitor and monitor. improve their academic performance.

“Child development is a maze: it’s a mess of dense psychological studies and parents often get lost trying to navigate superficial teacher reports filled with generic jargon that’s hard to understand,” Ori said. Hofnung, co-founder and CEO of GiantLeap. .

In addition, several cognitive and socio-emotional aspects that play a key role in children’s development are rarely addressed in school studies. GiantLeap is a childhood learning assessment tool that uses artificial intelligence in a video game format and can be used on any portable device, such as a tablet. It is intended to assess the developmental skills of children aged 4 to 8 years old. It analyzes parameters such as problem solving, spatial skills, language, memory, mathematics, social and motor skills, self-esteem, attention span and flexible thinking, which are not well taken into account in mainstream educational settings and set the tone for a child’s later school performance.

“We transform multidisciplinary scientific knowledge into accessible and actionable information, specially designed for parents. And it can all be done from your living room, ”added Hofnung.

The company is based in Tel Aviv and Santa Monica, California. So far, GiantLeap has raised $ 1 million from Fusion LA, Fresh.Fund, and Go Ahead Ventures with help from the Texas Medical Center (TMC) Accelerator during a pre-seed round. Currently, GiantLeap is working with TMC and invites parents and children to try their solution in a controlled scientific environment, recording all interactions and responses from the safety of a child’s home.

Academic improvement for young people

GiantLeap works like a kid-friendly video game and consists of a series of neuropsychological tests that a child performs. Parents then respond to a series of questionnaires to help the system better understand a child’s function in the home. The software then provides a map of the child’s brain development and areas it might need to improve or stimulate.

Children can retake the test a few months later, and the system “studies” the child’s learning patterns, makes developmental assumptions, investigates pressing issues and concerns, and learns how to better assess and deal with them. The more children who use this AI system, the better able the system becomes to analyze behavior, predict it, and learn the way children think.

“It’s a combination of objective inputs they play in the game as well as subjective data from parents. We put it all together and our program makes it an actionable snapshot of their performance, ”said Hofnung.

“If a child is struggling with math, a traditional analysis would involve seeing a neuropsychologist who would offer a mathematical remedial strategy – that is, work harder on math exercises. But we analyze the non-obvious connections that could affect a child’s performance. Maybe their difficulty in math is related to symbolic representation, visual memories or even self-regulation issues (regulating emotions) or difficulty maintaining attention, ”he explained. “Our technology accumulates scientific data and makes it scalable. “

Democratize science

Hofnung founded GiantLeap with CTO Nadav Goshen in 2018 to help solve a problem he encountered as a child, where he struggled with school. Coming from a family of academics but not mastering scholasticism, the educators did not know how to properly help him to move forward. “My parents were lost in the childhood development lingo, and although I was great in other areas, like sports, school didn’t do much to help me. Our program wants to show parents how versatile their children are, by measuring their weaknesses as well as their strengths to better help them in their learning. We are not only interested in math, language and attention span, but we also analyze flexible thinking, fine motor skills, social skills and more.

While the system is currently only offered in the United States in English, the company hopes to offer a Spanish version soon. Although this was mostly trial and error at first, Hofnung pointed out that GiantLeap is the first comprehensive neuropsychological assessment conducted by parents, not professionals on the market, and that it is about ‘an easy-to-use, kid-friendly and non-intimidating solution. The program has been praised by researchers and Hofnung believes more opportunities are on the horizon.

“We want to democratize science for parents and give them expert wisdom in the field at their fingertips.”

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