Elon Musk is at is again. The man that is revolutionizing our cars, our homes and how we travel is now out to solve the problem that an estimated 250 million children in Africa face: a lack of access to a primary education. In true Musk form, he's using technology to fill the gap. Together with something called the "XPRIZE," UNESCO and the Clinton Global Initiative, Musk has offered up a generous prize to a team of software developers that comes up with the most effective software for kids in Africa to teach themselves using tablets provided by Musk and company. (transition sentence to build anticipation for finding out the juicy details behind the project.)
Almost 200 teams started the competition in 2014 and this week, that number was narrowed down to 11 semi-finalists from 6 countries. The 11 teams are charged with creating an open-source software program designed to allow students that don't have access to classrooms to teach themselves the basics of reading, writing and math.
Of those eleven teams, five finalists will be selected and each of those five teams will win $1 million. For the finals, they will have their software loaded onto the tablets and distributed to 4,000 students in remote parts of Tanzania in east Africa. Each tablet will have one of the five programs on it and over the following 14 months, kids across Tanzania will interact and learn from the programs.
With extensive pre and post program testing, a winner will be determined by a panel of judges and that team will receive the $10 million grand prize, The XPRIZE GLOBAL LEARNING. The software will remain open source and available to anyone for free. The hope is that it will be used on even more tablets which will hopefully get into the hands of some of the estimated 250 million children worldwide that don't have access to primary school.
The XPRIZE Foundation traces its routes to the first Ansari XPRIZE, which was award to SpaceShipOne for the first privately funded space flight, in 2004. It was inspired by aviation prizes that groups awarded in the early 20th century, especially The Orteig Prize, which was awarded to Charles Lindberg for his transatlantic flight from New York to Paris. The XPRIZE Foundation has since diversified, striving to drive technology and scientific advancements in many different fields.
They have competitions going on right now that range from the first commercial flight to the moon to use low-cost robotics for exploration to a prize rewarding a team that is able to pull drinking water out of thin air, using the H2O in the humidity. It's really amazing stuff. With all the success they've had in the past and the approach they've taken with Musk, there should be little doubt that kids across Africa will be better educated and more equipped for the modern world than they ever have been. That is great news for everyone.
Check out a video from The XPRIZE Foundation below
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