STEAM/STEM Startup WorkBench Raises $1.7M
Chris Sleat is a tinkerer, a creator and a dad. He comes from the Radio Shack era, where as a kid he could go to his neighborhood Radio Shack and get a project kit or a bunch of random parts and by weekend’s end, create something. Kind of like Young Sheldon in the new ABC Sitcom paying homage to the upbringing of Sheldon Cooper.
When Sleat’s kids were entering the age where they could and should be tinkering he noticed an absence of that kind of thing. There was plenty of great technology available for kids but project ideas, implementation and curriculum were more than lacking.
That’s why he created WorkBench, the platform company that helps a nationwide network of teachers and tinkerers utilize the coolest in STEM/STEAM technology to create things.
It’s one hurdle for a school to get the latest Makey Makey kits, Sphero Balls or augmented reality robots. It’s another thing to utilize them in education and to really drive learning. It’s true, and somewhat a shame, that many schools will purchase a class full of Sphero balls and only take them out a few times a year. Despite the fact that Sphero has an amazing curriculum through Sphero EDU and their relationship with WorkBench.
For many teachers, schools and even edtech companies, WorkBench answers the “now what” question.
That’s what’s been happening over the past three years since Sleat launched the Baltimore based company. On Monday they announced that they’ve raised an additional $1.7 million dollars in funding. The Baltimore Sun reports that the investment is part of a $2 million dollar funding round led by Brown Advisory that the company hopes to close soon.
Work plans to “grow customer support for the growing base, and add to the sales team to broaden the user base, on the product side, continue to invest in high value integrations with folks like Google Classroom, and deepen the ease of use including standards alignment” Sleat told nibletz.com.
WorkBench is an important part of the edtech and STEM/STEAM ecosystem. They have relationships with most of the leading companies in the space, supplying STEM/STEAM technology to K-12 schools and maker spaces across the country. The time seems right for investment in this fast growing section of edtech. But there’s a key difference in what WorkBench is doing.
“I think companies have to be prepared to not just have cool lessons or widgets, bur erally take proof of depth of knowledge and usable 21st century skills seriously, and have rech personalizable [sic] projects before they jump in” Sleat told nibletz.com “We want it to be approachable and easy to teach with projects in every subject and there are some amazing startups hitting the fun and the fidelity together so for sure, it’s time for them”
Check out our now 10 year old edtech reporter Tatum F’s video interview with Sleat at ISTE 2017 back in June, below.
You can also check out Workbench online here at workbenchplatform.com