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Romanian Start-up NextLab Tech Finds Solution to Teach Kids Tech Skills

Consider the story of Andrei, a young man from the Romanian town of Boteni, an
agricultural community with only 2,500 residents. The ambitious but shy student has a
natural aptitude for computer science, but his local school didn’t provide the curriculum
necessary to support his tech ambitions.

Then an online platform became available to the 11-year old from a Bucharest-based start-
up called Nextlab.tech. Through this AI-driven tool and its digital narratives, Andrei gained
the prerequisite knowledge to work with programmable boards, sensors and mechatronics.
After dedicating a year to working on the Nextlab platform, Andrei was ready to head to the
capital to participate in Romania’s largest children’s educational robotics competition.

Nextlab.tech is the result of a team of IT innovators determined to make sure Romania is
able to continue its legacy of producing exceptional tech talent. CEO Razvan Bologa says
they were committed to this project because of the shortage of tech teachers in his country.
“We need to teach our kids STEM and get them interested in pursuing tech careers.

Unfortunately, we don’t have the manpower to provide schools with enough tech teachers to
educate our young people in subjects like computer science. “

The only solution, says Bologa, was to develop an AI-driven platform for students to learn
these important skills. “Teachers are needed to support students, but they don’t have to be
technology teachers.”

Nextlab keeps the learning experience exciting for students. It offers knowledge bases that
can be queried in natural language and digital narratives delivered by a virtual learning
assistant. The custom-designed curriculum teaches far more than coding. Students learn
how to build small robots as part of the program. Some go on to building greenhouses
using 3-D printing that are then programmed with tools like an automated sprinkler system
to water plants.

Nextlab is an especially good solution for students living in more rural locations, like Andrei,
but can also benefit students in more populated areas where there is a shortage of teachers
with tech background.

“We have children,” says Bologa, ”especially from disadvantaged communities, who did
not initially believe they would be able to build a working robot—and, most important,
they are surprised that they have access to very advanced knowledge bases and high
quality digital narratives. Thus, there is little difference between a child who is in a
remote rural area and a child coming from a wealthy city, because they share the same
knowledge base, the same content and the same narratives.”

NextLab.tech is going nationwide in Romania this year. Soon most Romanian students will
be engaging with this dynamic new program. NextLab is moving to its next phase:
international expansion.

https://nextlab.tech/english/
Frank Pietrucha

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