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NASA robotics coder secures $15M to transform K-12 Computer Science education with AI


Kira Learning, a company specialising in AI-powered software for teaching and learning computer science, recently announced the successful closure of a $15 million Series A funding round. The investment was led by existing investors Uber and Salesforce, Sana backer New Enterprise Associates (NEA) and the AI Fund.

The demand for computer science expertise in K-12 education is growing as more states across the U.S. introduce computer science requirements. Kira Learning aims to address this need by offering a comprehensive solution that empowers both teachers and students.

Co-Founder and CEO Andrea Pasinetti anticipated these needs when he launched Kira Learning in 2021. In partnership with Dr. Andrew Ng, a pioneer in the machine learning space, adjunct professor of CS at Stanford University and co-founder of Coursera, the two assembled a team of notable educators, scientists, and engineers, including former NASA Jet Propulsion Lab AI Data Scientist and Co-Founder Jagriti Agrawal, to develop the product and curriculum. She has emerged as a leading figure in the development of STEM curriculum for K-12 students. 

Founded in 2021, Kira Learning’s platform includes cutting-edge curricular solutions, a collaborative browser-based coding environment, and AI-powered tools for auto-grading and student assistance. The curriculum covers various programming languages and technologies, featuring course pathways on AI, cybersecurity, web development, and more.

Alongside the funding news, Kira Learning also revealed a partnership with the Tennessee STEM Innovation Network (TSIN), managed by Battelle Education, to provide an integrated teaching-learning platform and introductory computer science curriculum to all public middle and high schools in Tennessee.

Speaking about the company’s mission, Andrea Pasinetti emphasised the importance of computer science as a fundamental pillar in K-12 education, alongside literacy and math skills. “We’re seeing the most significant shift in K-12 education in half a century, as computer science becomes an important third pillar in K-12 education along with language and math, and we’re thrilled to join with the State of Tennessee and the Tennessee STEM Innovation Network (TSIN) as our first partner out of the gate in ensuring all students benefit from early exposure to computer science,” said Kira Learning Co-Founder and CEO Andrea Pasinetti. 

Through the partnership with TSIN, Kira Learning’s computer science courses will be available to all public middle and high schools in the state at no cost. Starting this fall, the Introduction to Computer Science course offered by Kira Learning will satisfy Tennessee’s computer science requirement for graduating high school students.

The trend of introducing computer science requirements in schools is gaining traction nationwide, with states like Georgia, Nebraska, Nevada, and South Carolina already mandating computer science courses for high school graduation. In total, 23 additional states have set a minimum requirement for offering at least one computer science course as an elective.

Investors NEA and the AI Fund expressed their confidence in Kira Learning’s mission. Carmen Chang, Partner at NEA, highlighted the potential of AI to democratise computer science education, drawing a parallel to how Duolingo transformed language learning. Andrew Ng, General Partner at the AI Fund and Chairman of Kira Learning, emphasised the importance of AI coding as the new literacy and the value of providing these subjects to all K-12 students.

TSIN Network Director Brandi Stroecker said, “We performed an extensive search to identify a partner that offers tools sophisticated enough to empower teachers of all experience levels while also providing state-of-the-art course content that is compelling for learners of any age.” Stroecker added, “By providing Kira Learning’s coursework at no cost to all middle and high school institutions through our partnership with the Tennessee Department of Education, we’re helping Tennessee educators and students build a strong foundation to thrive in today’s digital world.”

“Advances in AI present an attractive opportunity to democratize teaching and learning computer science,” said Carmen Chang, Partner at NEA. “What Duolingo did for languages, we believe Kira Learning will do for computer science and AI. Specifically, we believe Kira Learning will become the destination for anyone looking to learn CS. Andrea’s experience in education and technology makes him uniquely suited to spearhead this timely effort.”

“AI coding is the new literacy,” said AI Fund General Partner and Kira Learning Chairman Andrew Ng. “When the educational system decided to aspire to full literacy, it enriched society. Given the importance of computing and AI throughout society, it’s now clear that everyone should learn these subjects. Kira Learning’s journey to bring this to all K-12 students will enrich and empower the next generation.”

Further, San Francisco-based Kira Learning is actively in discussions with several other states and expects to launch programs in approximately 20 states by the coming fall.

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