Category Archives: Google for Education Blog

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Meet the national finalists of our 10th annual Doodle 4 Google contest

In January, we kicked off our 10th year of Doodle 4 Google, and students across all 53 states and territories submitted their representations of this year’s theme, “What Inspires Me...”

We couldn’t help but be inspired ourselves by all of the submissions. This year’s 180,000+ Doodles covered everything imaginable, from cooking to family to dragons.

Now, after millions of public votes, we’re excited to introduce our five national finalists, one from each age group. Here’s what these young artists had to say about their masterpieces:

Grades K-3: Sarah Gomez-Lane (Grade 1, Falls Church, VA)
"The things on my Doodle are my favorite dinosaurs. Dinosaurs inspire me to study more to be a paleontologist. The shovel is for my future job!"

SaraGomezLane_D4G.jpg

Grades 4-5:Sia Srivastava (Grade 4, Prosper, TX)
"I am very inspired about space travel. I want to explore the galaxy and visit different planets and create a rollercoaster through our universe!”

TX Sia-Srivastava_D4G.jpg

Grades 6-7:Ignacio Burgos (Grade 7, Portsmouth, RI)
"Fashion inspires me because of how you can reflect your own personal style into just a single garment. Inspiration can be drawn from anywhere and can show any sort of idea. Whatever you can imagine!"

Ignacio Burgos_D4G.jpg

Grades 8-9:Madelyn Kieh (Grade 9, Yeadon, PA)
"The thing that inspires me the most is the work of others. When I see an amazing art piece made by someone else, it motivates me to improve my own art. In my Doodle, I drew my big sister, whose artwork has inspired me to draw since I was young."

PA Madelyn-Kieh_D4G.jpg

Grades 10-12:Mark Thivierge (Grade 10, Lutz, FL)
"Nature has existed long before we have and therefore is where we draw our inspiration from. The word ‘inspire’ means to ‘breathe in’ and the wonders of nature are where I breathe in and find meaning in my mathematics, science, music and writing."

FL Mark-Thivierge_D4G.jpg

The national finalists will all receive a Pixelbook computer, a $5,000 college scholarship, and a trip to Google’s headquarters in California to celebrate with the other finalists and meet the Doodle Team.

Come back on June 18 to find out who will be the national winner. Thanks to all who voted and all the young artists who submitted their Doodles. We can’t wait to see what you dream up next year!

Source: Education


To all the teachers

Editor’s note: Teacher Appreciation Week starts today, and we’re honored to have the recently-named 2018 National Teacher of the Year, Mandy Manning, as our guest author. We’re enormously grateful for the hard work that teachers like Mandy do everyday to ignite curiosity in the next generation. Stay tuned here and follow along on Twitter throughout the week to see how we’re celebrating.

Becoming a teacher wasn’t part of my original plan. I went to school to become a screenwriter and producer, but after my first job working at a local TV news station, I realized it  didn’t quite fit my personality. I needed to have a different kind of impact. 

That’s when I found a job as a paraeducator (teaching assistant), then taught for two years in the Peace Corps. But it wasn’t until I moved to the tiny town of Spearman, Texas—where I taught theater and communications and coached speech and debate—that I seriously considered pursuing a career in teaching. From the first moment I stood in front of a classroom of nervous but curious teenagers, I was hooked. Looking at their faces, so full of hope and potential, I knew I’d found my purpose.

Nineteen years ago, I could never have imagined being named National Teacher of the Year. Now, in this position, I’m humbled by the opportunity to raise the experiences of educators, and share my students’ voices.

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National Teacher of the Year Mandy Manning poses with her students on graduation day.  

The Council of Chief State School Officers (CCSSO) has run the National Teacher of the Year program since 1952. Google helps sponsor this program, and as part of their partnership, they hosted my 54 fellow State Teachers of the Year and me at their Mountain View headquarters this past February. The experience was inspiring and validating, reinforcing how educators across our nation are putting students at the center of their work, and how much direct impact we can have on our communities.

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Here are the 55 of us (2018 State Teachers of the Year) enjoying our time with Google in February.

In one session, we had the honor of collaborating on this year's Doodle celebrating Teacher Appreciation Week, which is live on Google homepage in the U.S. today. It was powerful because it gave each of us the chance to talk about what it means to be a teacher, and to bring those concepts together into a single image. We were especially lucky to have help from Jonathan Juravich, Ohio’s 2018 State Teacher of the Year, who is a talented artist and art teacher (learn more about his experience as well as a behind-the-scenes look at the making of the Doodle).

We also had the chance to share thoughts and ideas across a range of topics, including the teachers who inspired us, the future of education, and advice for aspiring educators, which are now part of a new video series called “Lessons from Teachers of the Year.” Starting today, these videos will be available on YouTube and I hope they serve as a source of inspiration for educators.

Other influential individuals in education—like Sal KhanCharles Best, and Angela Duckworth—answered some of Google’s most-asked questions about education and shared their thoughts on the profession of teaching. Their words of gratitude show the impact that teachers have on their students and the broader community. Check out these videos and trending education-related queries on a Google Trends hub dedicated to Teacher Appreciation Week.

Over the years, Google has listened to and supported educators through its products, programs and investments, and this week Google.org is providing $500,000 to DonorsChoose.org to match donations to classroom project requests. Google has been working with DonorsChoose.org since 2012, providing more than $20 million to fund over 23,000 projects, reaching one out of every ten public schools in the U.S.

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Every day I’m thankful my path led me toward teaching. I look forward to my year ahead as National Teacher of the Year and the opportunity to elevate my colleagues and students’ stories. In the most turbulent of times—and especially in those times—the importance of a good teacher cannot and should not be taken for granted. This week, give a shout out to the teachers who have made a difference in your life. You can even try coding a note of thankswith Made with Code!

So make sure to #ThankATeacher today—they deserve it.

Source: Education


Thanking teachers by helping them get the resources they need

Editor’s note:Teacher Appreciation Week starts today, and we’re honored to have Charles Best, the Founder of DonorsChoose.org as our guest author. We’re big fans of DonorsChoose.org,  and are proud to be longtime supporters of their model of helping teachers. Today, we’re taking that one step further in honor of Teacher Appreciation Week. Keep an eye on the Education page and follow along on Twitter throughout the week to see how we’re celebrating.


When I taught history in a public school in the Bronx, many of my fellow teachers had great ideas for books their students could read, field trips they would organize for students, or projects they would do in class, if only there was funding to make those ideas happen. I had a sense that people would want to help teachers like us if they could see exactly where their money was going. So with help from my students, I sketched out a site where teachers could request the exact resources they needed for their classroom, and donors of all stripes could give to the projects that inspired them. Since our founding in 2000, 3 million donors have given $680 million to fund over 1 million classroom projects.

I never could have imagined reaching this scale back in my classroom days, and Google.org has been key to our growth. Google.org shares our belief that teachers understand their students—and the resources they need to teach those students—better than anyone else. Their financial support has empowered teachers across the country to bring their ideas to life.

Since 2012, Google.org has supported 17,000 public school teachers who needed funding for their classrooms. This includes teachers like Mr. Narisetty who needed lab equipment for a new AP Physics lab, Ms. Gibson who needed funding for dolls and costumes for her kindergarteners, and Mrs. Price who requested sensory processing materials to help her students with special needs relax.

Google.org’s continued support has enabled us to pilot new ways to serve students. Back in 2012, they pioneered “Classroom Rewards,” through which teachers who launched new AP STEM courses earned $100 in classroom funding for each student who received a passing score on their AP exam. This program launched more than 500 new AP STEM classes at high schools predominantly serving students from low income families. We recently launched an open source data science project that enables developers to use machine learning to help us match donors with more relevant teacher projects.

All told, Google.org has helped bring almost 23,000 projects to life, providing around $20 million in classroom project funding. One in ten public schools in the U.S. has benefitted from this generosity.

This week, Google.org is helping us celebrate Teacher Appreciation Week by honoring what teachers want and need. Google.org is doubling donations to one category of classroom projects every day this week for a total of up to $500,000. These daily categories, like professional development or art, are based on the terms our teachers have searched for most on DonorsChoose.org.

We’re kicking off the week by supporting Professional Development projects, so that teachers can bring even more skills to the classroom.

Please join us by heading to DonorsChoose.org to show teachers your appreciation in a way you know they’ll love.

Source: Education


Coding for Conservation

Working on the CS First team, I love finding ways to get more kids involved with computer science at a young age. Though when I was a kid growing up in Miami, I spent most of my time off computers and on the water, admiring the natural beauty of the surrounding beaches and mangrove forests.

I focused my studies and spare time on the environment, and how we could protect and preserve the habitats and creatures that made my home so special. I didn’t quite understand how coding and technology would further my goal of protecting the environment until I got to Google, where I’ve learned that computer science is actually a critical tool for conservation and sustainability.

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Sarah has a BA in Environmental Studies from NYU and is pictured here in Belize on a sea turtle tagging and monitoring project with Google.

To help more kids understand the connection between coding and the environment (and to celebrate Earth Day!) we’re teaming up with World Wildlife Fund (WWF) to invite students in grades 4-8 to create their own Google logo. Using Scratch, a block-based programming language, students will learn basic coding and stretch their design skills as they express their own ideas for protecting the planet.

To get ready to create their logo, students can watch videos to learn computer science concepts like sequencing and loops, practice analytical thinking and use creative problem solving skills. Those concepts and skills are the building blocks for developing technology that organizations like WWF and Google use in their efforts to protect the planet’s animals and natural environment. In fact, the themes of the logo activity—Sustainability and Wild Animals— were chosen to reflect those efforts.

I have long admired WWF’s mission to conserve nature and reduce threats to animals all over the world—they recently launched Wild Classroom, a free resource for educators to teach their students about the natural world. And as a Googler, I’m proud of the work our company has done to protect the environment: we’re committed to renewable energy adoption and energy efficiency, and have built free data tools to enable widespread solutions to issues like deforestation, overfishing and air pollution.

My hope is that this logo activity will show kids that learning to code can also mean protecting the environment. And this activity is for teachers, too. Along with CS First’s full curriculum, it gives teachers the tools they need to introduce computer science to students for the first time, as well as nurture students’ interest in computer science.

Source: Education


How the Dynamic Learning Project is building teacher confidence

Editor’s note: Last summer, we announced Google’s support of the Dynamic Learning Project—a pilot program from Digital Promise that places technology coaches in 50 high-need schools across the country. Educator coaching has been shown to be effective in subjects like reading and math, but the Dynamic Learning Project is one of the first nationwide programs to apply this approach to the impactful use of technology across subjects. We checked in with one of the 50 schools participating in the program to see how things are going.


When Hillsdale Middle School principal Jacob Launder learned about the Dynamic Learning Project, he jumped at the opportunity to transform how his teachers use technology in the classroom.


Principal Launder had already invested in Hillsdale’s classroom tech and had a community of educators who wanted to build their skills, but many of his teachers lacked the confidence to really make a change in their classrooms. Luckily, he had the perfect person in mind to become a coach and lead this transformation: Ann Mason, a 30-year veteran history teacher in the Cajon Valley School District.


Thanks to her participation in the Dynamic Learning Project, Ann has extensive access to tech-coaching experts, custom resources and tools to guide her support for teachers, and a community of fellow coaches to share best practices.


“The Dynamic Learning Project presented the perfect avenue to support change,” Ann says. “It recognizes that every teacher is innovating at a different level, and the new coaching model allows me to meet that teacher at their level.”


At the beginning of each eight-week coaching cycle, Ann meets with teachers across the school to understand their needs and how she can best support them. As the teachers implement new technology in their lessons, Ann observes their progress and provides regular feedback so they can continue to improve.


Less than a year later, Ann’s in-person, relevant, and consistent technology coaching has helped Hillsdale instructors build confidence in using technology to prepare students. For example, science teacher Carol Strampfer wanted a better way to organize her seventh graders’ written and digital projects so she could track their progress throughout the year. Working closely with Ann, she helped her students use Google Slides to build digital notebooks featuring images of assignments, photos of labs, and more.


“I had wanted to implement this type of system for quite some time, and being part of the Dynamic Learning Project provided the push I needed as well as the support,” Carol says. “Ann helped me work out the minor glitches and supported me in incorporating my own ideas.”


For Ann, the most rewarding moments take place inside the classroom, when she’s helping a teacher introduce a new activity they’ve planned together. “If there’s a tech glitch or a student asks a question that the teacher can’t answer, I jump in to help them move past the bump in the lesson and on to success,” she explains. “I've had numerous teachers tell me they might have given up if I wasn't in the room with them.”


“The Dynamic Learning Project has given me the courage to be more adventurous in my approach to teaching,” says Elizabeth Cordle, who teaches eighth-grade science. “I have the opportunity to explore new technologies in a safe, supportive way.”


Ultimately, the goal of the program is to help students engage with learning, and Principal Launder has seen how the Dynamic Learning Project has been transformative for the Hillsdale community. “The positive impact on teacher creativity and problem-solving can be seen by the dynamic products our students are creating in their classes,” he says. “They’re being provided the opportunity to work collaboratively with their peers on engaging and creative projects.”


These early results affirm that in order to truly unlock the technology’s potential impact in the classroom, teachers must feel supported and confident while learning new tools. As their students turn to them for assistance, answers, and encouragement, Hillsdale teachers now have their own coach to help them thrive.

To stay updated about the Dynamic Learning Project, sign up for updates from Digital Promise.

Source: Education


Zendaya and Google.org help a community school bloom

In 2015, Roses in Concrete Community School opened in East Oakland, California. With a name inspired by a book of poetry written by Tupac Shakur, the school aims to create a model for urban education that prioritizes the needs of youth and families in the community it serves. It’s founder, Dr. Jeff Duncan-Andrade, believes education is the way to help young people understand that they can transform not only their community, but the world. By creating the conditions for our youngest change-makers to flourish, this education model can be a pathway to building healthy and sustainable communities across the U.S.

In the school’s first year, Google.org provided $750,000 to help launch its unique vision. And last Friday at Google’s San Francisco community space, teachers, students, artists, education advocates, Googlers and Oakland-native actress Zendaya celebrated the announcement of our additional $650,000 grant to help the school build a first-of-its-kind computer science (CS) curriculum, which will serve as a model for other schools across the U.S. The curriculum will be culturally and community relevant, building on Duncan-Andrade’s philosophy that education shouldn’t push students out of communities, but should instead help students transform them.

Research shows that Black and Latino students are interested in learning CS, but are underrepresented in the field due to limited access to learning opportunities, coupled with the lack of relatable role models. Through this new program, Roses in Concrete helps students see the connection between CS and their communities, and hopes to equip them with the skills they need to solve real problems, starting in their own neighborhood.

The purpose of education is not to escape poverty, but to end it. Dr. Jeff Duncan-Andrade
Founder of Roses in Concrete Community School

During the evening’s events, Roses students shared dance, art, and poetry performances for the crowd, which included Zendaya, an avid supporter of the school. Growing up in Oakland as the daughter of two teachers, she has fond memories of spending time in the same classrooms that now make up the Roses in Concrete campus, and credits pretending to grade papers as some of her earliest acting experience. During a student-led interview, Zendaya shared her appreciation for organizations like this progressive community school that are thoughtfully closing equity divides in her hometown. She encouraged the students to “Always lead with your heart and chase the happiness that fuels you,” and reminded them that technology is one possible medium for them to express themselves and make a positive difference.

As a lab school, Roses in Concrete will share this new curriculum with national school leaders, policy makers and researchers. And alongside Roses, we can identify more ways to provide meaningful CS experiences to students of color, and by doing so, provide pathways for them to grow, thrive, and create change—in their own communities, and around the world.

Source: Education


OK Go makes some noise in the classroom

Editor’s Note: Many of us on Google’s Science Journal team are huge fans of OK Go, the popular rock and YouTube sensation. Their music videos are a spectacular blend of science, engineering, and creativity—a great formula for engaging classroom activities. So when professor AnnMarie Thomas approached us about the OK Go Sandbox, a collection of materials for K-12 educators, we simply couldn’t pass up the opportunity. OK Go frontman Damian Kulash tells us more in this guest post.

I’m always so proud and excited when I hear from a teacher who uses an OK Go music video in the classroom, and over the years, I’ve heard it more and more frequently—from pre-school teachers to grad school professors. We know our videos are joyful and nerdy (we’ve done a Rube Goldberg machine and a dance in zero gravity, for instance), but we didn’t plan them for the classroom environment. It’s a wonderful surprise to hear they’re sneaking in there on their own, and we want to support that in any way we can.

Last year I met Dr. AnnMarie Thomas, who leads the Playful Learning Lab at the University of St. Thomas. Together we brainstormed ways to open up our videos for classrooms, and we set up a survey to ask educators for their ideas. Within just a few days, nearly a thousand teachers sent us their thoughts, and, with support from Google, we took this feedback and together developed our new OK Go Sandbox. It’s a collection of materials created for and with K-12 educators: design challenges, educator guides, and more.

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Here’s Dr. AnnMarie Thomas and me meeting with teachers to go over OK Go Sandbox materials.

It was especially cool to work with Google’s Science Journal team to develop tools that allow students to explore the world around them through music. Their new pitch detection feature makes it possible to make sounds using glasses of water (like we did in the Rube Goldberg machine for “This Too Shall Pass”, and in the musical performance of a robotic car for “Needing/Getting”), and there’s now an option to play data values as pitches which lets students use their phone’s sensors to compose new sounds and interpret their data in a new way.

OK Go Sandbox - Surrounding Sounds

So whether we’re exploring frame rates by making flip books, or using a light sensor to make music (with Google’s Science Journal app), we hope that the challenges in the OK Go Sandbox help stoke curiosity and encourage learning through joy and wonder. And we particularly look forward to learning more from educators as this stuff gets into the world.


Educators! Please reach out to us at hello@OKGoSandbox.orgwith your input and ideas so that we can grow and adapt this to be maximally useful in inspiring your students. The best part of a sandbox is that we can try building lots of new things, even if we occasionally have to knock some things down and start over.

Source: Education


OK Go makes some noise in the classroom

Editor’s Note: Many of us on Google’s Science Journal team are huge fans of OK Go, the popular rock and YouTube sensation. Their music videos are a spectacular blend of science, engineering, and creativity—a great formula for engaging classroom activities. So when professor AnnMarie Thomas approached us about the OK Go Sandbox, a collection of materials for K-12 educators, we simply couldn’t pass up the opportunity. OK Go frontman Damian Kulash tells us more in this guest post.

I’m always so proud and excited when I hear from a teacher who uses an OK Go music video in the classroom, and over the years, I’ve heard it more and more frequently—from pre-school teachers to grad school professors. We know our videos are joyful and nerdy (we’ve done a Rube Goldberg machine and a dance in zero gravity, for instance), but we didn’t plan them for the classroom environment. It’s a wonderful surprise to hear they’re sneaking in there on their own, and we want to support that in any way we can.

Last year I met Dr. AnnMarie Thomas, who leads the Playful Learning Lab at the University of St. Thomas. Together we brainstormed ways to open up our videos for classrooms, and we set up a survey to ask educators for their ideas. Within just a few days, nearly a thousand teachers sent us their thoughts, and, with support from Google, we took this feedback and together developed our new OK Go Sandbox. It’s a collection of materials created for and with K-12 educators: design challenges, educator guides, and more.

170924mde084_002.jpg
Here’s Dr. AnnMarie Thomas and me meeting with teachers to go over OK Go Sandbox materials.

It was especially cool to work with Google’s Science Journal team to develop tools that allow students to explore the world around them through music. Their new pitch detection feature makes it possible to make sounds using glasses of water (like we did in the Rube Goldberg machine for “This Too Shall Pass”, and in the musical performance of a robotic car for “Needing/Getting”), and there’s now an option to play data values as pitches which lets students use their phone’s sensors to compose new sounds and interpret their data in a new way.

OK Go Sandbox - Surrounding Sounds

So whether we’re exploring frame rates by making flip books, or using a light sensor to make music (with Google’s Science Journal app), we hope that the challenges in the OK Go Sandbox help stoke curiosity and encourage learning through joy and wonder. And we particularly look forward to learning more from educators as this stuff gets into the world.


Educators! Please reach out to us at hello@OKGoSandbox.orgwith your input and ideas so that we can grow and adapt this to be maximally useful in inspiring your students. The best part of a sandbox is that we can try building lots of new things, even if we occasionally have to knock some things down and start over.

Source: Education


Get inspired: three weeks left to submit artwork for Doodle 4 Google

It’s been over ten years since I began doodling for Google and I’ve never been more excited about what’s coming up for our ever-changing logo.

We know that young artists inspire us, so for the 10th annualDoodle 4 Google contest, we’re asking them to answer the question “What inspires you?” (in the form of a Google logo, of course). In a super exciting first, this year’s winner will work directly with the Doodle team to transform their art into an interactive doodle for millions to see and play.

Past winners have exhibited incredible creativity and charm—the hyper-imaginative, environmentally conscious world of 2014’s U.S. winner Audrey Zhang is a personal favorite, as is Robot Tom, the star of 2017’s winning Irish entry by Erica Redmon—and I have no doubt this year’s entries will continue to inspire.

Picking a winner is always the hardest part. Luckily, we have some stellar guest judges to help, including actor Neil Patrick Harris, gold-medalist Laurie Hernandez, actor Ty Burrell of "Modern Family," Ibtihaj Muhammad from the U.S. Fencing Team, former Houston Astros outfielder Carlos Beltrán, 2017 National Teacher of the Year Sydney Chaffee, and award winning journalist Elaine Welteroth.

d4g

As for prizes, five finalists will be invited to Google’s Mountain View headquarters and one winner will receive:

• A $30,000 scholarship

• A $50,000 technology package for their school/non-profit organization

• And, as mentioned, a behind-the-scenes collaboration with the Doodle team to transform their doodle
  into an interactive experience that will launch this year on our homepage and app home screen

Submissions close on March 2—only three weeks away. Every K-12 student is encouraged to enter their doodle at doodle4google.com.

Please encourage every young artist you know to participate. ❤🎨

Source: Education


Resources for families to make choices about online safety

When I was a kid, my family couldn’t afford a computer, so I’d only get to use one in my father’s office, for a few minutes at a time. When I was a little older, we got a computer at school—one computer, for the entire school—and I was able to spend a bit more time with a PC.


Fast forward to 2018, my daughter is walking around her middle school with a computer in her pocket that enables her to connect to the internet and use apps at any time. Even as a parent at a tech company, it’s hard to believe that this has become the norm: Most kids get a smartphone by the time they are 10 years old, and more than 77 percent of kids 6-12 years old are using them on a weekly basis.


The opportunity for kids to get help with math homework, listen to any song, or video chat with their grandparents at any time is amazing. But technology presents new challenges for parents, and it's important that they're equipped with resources to tackle them effectively.


Today is Safer Internet Day, and this year’s theme is a call to action to create a better internet for the youngest users. Here are some of the resources we’ve developed over the years that do just that.


Be Internet Awesome

Be Internet Awesome is a program—developed in collaboration with online safety experts like the Family Online Safety Institute, the Internet Keep Safe Coalition and ConnectSafely—that teaches kids how to be safer, more confident explorers of the online world.


Whether they’re playing Interland, our interactive online game, or learning from educators that are applying our lesson plans in their classrooms, Be Internet Awesome aims to help kids be thoughtful about what they share, identify phishing and other scams, protect their personal information, and be respectful of their peers.


One of the program’s most important pillars is: “When in doubt, talk it out.” Making sure that kids can talk about these new issues with a trusted adult—like a parent or teacher—is critical as they’re learning to navigate the web safely.


Family Link

It’s hard to balance giving kids the freedom to explore the internet, while guiding their experience. Family Linkcan help parents stay in the loop as their kid begins using their first mobile device. Parents can create a Google Account for their kid that's much like their own—and do things like manage apps, keep an eye on screen time, and set a bedtime for their kid's device.


Google Wifi

We’ve also built family-friendly controls into Google Wifi. Site Blocking, which uses the best of SafeSearch, enables parents to block access to more than 8 million non-kid-friendly websites on any device in the home—all with a few taps in the Google Wifi app. And to help you manage screen time, Google Wifi has a helpful feature where you can pause the Wi-Fi when it’s time to sit down for dinner or wind down for bed.


We’ve come a long way since I was using my dad’s computer in his office, and in the years ahead, technology will only become a more central part of our lives. We’re committed to building tools and designing programs that enable parents to provide a safer and inspiring experience for their kids online.

Source: Education