Editor’s note: The opinions expressed in this commentary are the author’s alone.
My columns this month feature four minority-owned STEM businesses in the Kansas City metro. The cool thing about each of these businesses? They include at least one (if not more) aspect of the STEM concept — science, technology, engineering, and math.
For the second piece of this the four-part series, I conducted a Q&A-style interview with Clarence Tan, founder of Edcoda, which specializes in gaming in education.
Specialty: To engage students for lifelong learning that is engaging and appealing to today’s generation. Our latest launch, Coda Quest, is an immersive 3-D adventure game that helps students master math in first through eighth grades.
Year founded: 2015
Founder: Clarence Tan
Cool fact: We’re “gamifying learning.” It’s really cool and unique because our core value is to always be learning. So it’s not just Math or English, but every subject and topic conceivable.
When did you fall in love with STEM? I’ve always loved STEM growing up.
Any advice for budding STEM enthusiasts/technologists? My advice for engaging budding STEM students would be to have them build something cool and fun as soon as possible. Then have them learn from the mistakes and grow confidence from small achievements.
Why is pursuing a STEM career or launching a STEM-centric business important for NextGen innovators? Launching a STEM-centric business like Edcoda is important because it adds a unique — and fun — component to education and how today’s students learn. STEM is rooted in almost every single aspect of our everyday lives. Not only is the industry and demand growing, having expertise in STEM exposes students and their communities to amazing opportunities today and in the future.
How has diversity and inclusion played a role in the success of your company? Diversity has helped us look at problems from many different angles and become creative. I believe it comes down to creating a very open and fun culture that is focused on the company’s vision and mission by looking mainly at individuals of character and competency. We found that our team naturally steers towards a diverse palette with this approach.
If you could do it all again, what would you change? I wouldn’t change anything if I could do it over. Every single mistake I’ve made is a stepping stone of learning and experience that helps me build a stronger mental fortitude, as well as make me more knowledgeable. It comes down to knowing that it’s OK to make mistakes, and that it’s a not a sign of failure — though at the time it may feel like it.
2018 goals: Our goal at Edcoda is to impact Kansas City by engaging the underserved communities in education. We want to get students in public, charter, private schools and learning centers alike excited to learn.
We also see a huge need to impact these communities by bringing on future team members that understand their unique role to solve these challenges. We currently have 7 team members.
At Edcoda, we believe that every kid is designed for greatness in their own unique way. It is our vision to help them realize their potential. Today’s world is filled with technology. So it is our mission to provide the technological tools to help them be the best they can be. Learning should be fun and we’re applying that to everything we do and every organization we work with.
Next week, the third part of my four-part series will feature Kia McClain, director of growth marketing at The Laya Center.
April Boyd-Noronha is the STEM parent advocate, diversity thought lecturer and author behind Lee’s Summit-based The STEM Broker, a boutique training and consulting firm focused on empowering girls, women, and minorities to succeed and advance in STEM careers. Email her at firstname.lastname@example.org or connect on twitter at @thestembroker