High school senior launching foreign language education technology toy

Mikaela Gilbert is a senior at Noblesville High School and, at 18 years old, she’s already been bitten by the entrepreneur bug. She’s currently in the development phase of an education technology toy that is designed to teach basic vocabulary in a variety of foreign languages to children.

MikelaA
Mikaela speaks to a group of tech-focused women at the Women & Hi Tech luncheon on February 12th.

Her project began with an old assignment she had in a Digital Design course her sophomore year. The students were given a wooden egg and told to make an original product and package it. From there, Chatter Eggs was born.

The original idea was simply an egg with a weight in the bottom that made farm animal noises when it was shaken. She brought the old project to her Innovations class, which focuses on action and pursing passion-based projects, and after a successful brainstorming session, it emerged as a language learning tool for children.

MikelaB
Prototype of a panda Chatter Egg.

Today, Chatter Eggs is an egg-shaped toy with the face of an animal representing the language the toy speaks. It is activated by a wobbling motion, and 10-15 fundamental phrases are played, one with each wobble, and the English translation is repeated directly after the phrase.

“The coolest thing I’ve learned throughout this process is a new love of business,” Mikaela said. “College is quickly approaching and this class has brought business to my attention, inspiring me to transition to an entrepreneurship major.”

When asked about advice she had for other girls following in her footsteps, she had three tips:

  1. Start today.   Waiting for tomorrow is throwing an opportunity out the window.
  2. Fail Fast.   If something doesn’t work, move on.
  3. People are nice.   If you reach out to them, the majority are more than willing to help you.

As for the future?  Mikaela is looking at the big picture and hoping “to create a company with multiple products that can eventually teach children their second and third languages when they’re young and best at learning them.”

Follow Mikaela’s progress on her blog. And keep an eye out for her when she presents at the upcoming launch event for the state of Indiana Million Women Mentors movement on March 25th.

 

 


TPF4Y Logo2

Learn more about the TechPoint Foundation for Youth and their mission to ensure Indiana’s underserved K-12 students have access to experiential learning opportunities that inspire the pursuit of STEM careers.

ABOUT THE AUTHOR

Maggie Cline is program director for TechPoint Foundation for Youth.