Meet the first teacher to test Osmo games in her classroom
Jennifer Auten doesn’t remember where she saw the ad asking for volunteers to test out a new educational product but she does remember why she answered: She has a son, who at the time was in middle school, and interested in computer science.
“It was before Osmo was a name,” she remembered. “Maybe [it was on] NextDoor or Facebook or something – it was something, somewhere about this product and it sounded really cool and they were asking for people to reach out if they were interested in learning more.”
Auten, then an elementary school teacher, ended up connecting with Osmo’s now-Director of Customer Experience Letitia Truslow and went over to the startup company’s office in Palo Alto, California. There, her son sat with company co-founder Jerome Scholler and learned about how they used computer science in the coding process.
“It came up that I was a teacher and Letitia asked if I would be interested in having them come visit my classroom,” she said. “I’m always up for trying new things so Letitia and [Osmo co-founder Pramod Sharma] came and the first visit from what I remember the kids played Words. They just showed them the game and then they basically said ‘we’re trying to think of a new name for this’ and gave the kids three choices. Osmo was one and the kids voted for Osmo.”
Her students, she said, were really excited to have such an influence in the process. After all, as elementary school students, it was cool to them that adults would take their opinions so seriously.
The relationship with Auten’s classroom continued for a few years after and when new games rolled out or there were additional testing needs from Osmo’s researchers, the kids in her classroom would be getting an early peek and helped form the new games.
Since Auten’s school was based in Silicon Valley, many of her students’ parents worked for big tech companies and so it was easy for them to grasp what their help meant for the products.
“They always had opinions and they were always anxious and excited to share those opinions,” she remembered.
And for some, Osmo really ended up being a big difference in their understanding of core subjects.
She remembers Osmo having a big impact on one student who really struggled with number sense and basic addition and subtraction.
“Playing numbers and having that fun game incentive and the open endedness – that really was very motivating for him because he felt like he had control over math rather than math be this thing that he felt like was controlling him. So I think that was a really big win,” she said.
Auten’s since relocated to the East Coast, but she still plays Osmo games and loves telling the story of how she played a small part in our success.
“I really look back so fondly at these moments,” she said. “I have a niece who is six and whenever I see her I bring Osmo for her and we play together. It’s always so cool to see the games that come and it’s fun to sit down with my niece and say ‘hey, I know the people who work with this.”