Kelowna innovator gets tech-savvy youth thinking with their phones - InfoNews

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Kelowna innovator gets tech-savvy youth thinking with their phones

Dr. Shawn Wang, Kristin Garn, Yipin Guo
Image Credit: Accelerate Okanagan
May 03, 2013 - 4:31 PM

"Career preparedness” isn't the most enticing pair of words to your average 20-year-old but Kelowna tech expert Kristin Garn is on a mission to change that.

Her solution is Mathtoons, a free mobile app she developed and it has gained her recognition as one of Canada's top 20 female entrepreneurs. The app provides young students from high school to university with a fun, fast and mobile way to practice their math skills. Mathtoons puts a series of algebra games into the idle hands of users on the go.

For example, Garn says, “a 21-year-old who wants to be a dental hygienist might need to upgrade her math skills, or a first-year calculus student realizes, I didn't learn enough in high school.”

Garn says the young generation of technophiles married to its mobile phones, iPads and laptops is falling behind in cognitive and intellectual reasoning.

“I saw that Canadian students were entering first year of university without foundational math skills,” she says. “They love their technology but they don't like practicing their cognitive skills.”

Mathtoons joins the two together.

“We can't ignore these kids, we've got to make tools to supplement, support and cultivate their development,” she says.

Plenty of online resources are out there but students aren't using them, Garn says. They want mobility.  Students have told her: “'I want it on this' and then point their phone to me... 'I want to practice on the bus. That doesn't exist yet, so that's where we come in,” she says.

Garn says it's challenging to market programs in career preparedness to young adults.

“I'm the crazy person who wants to make it (sound fun),” she says.

Garn has been invited to join a group of successful industry leaders at a San Francisco conference that helps women-run tech companies collaborate and share their skills. While most participants will be coming from big cities like Vancouver, Toronto and Waterloo, Garn is proud to represent Kelowna.

“I'm trying to grow the women's tech community here myself,” she says.

Her visit to San Francisco will bring her one step closer to that goal, through mentorships with other female entrepreneurs.

To contact the reporter for this story, email Julie Whittet at or call (250)718-0428.

News from © iNFOnews, 2013

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