Scholar Hero is now in Closed Beta! Sign up for a live demo!

After a year of planning, hacking, and iterating, Scholar Hero is now officially in closed beta! We are now taking requests for live demos in the greater Pittsburgh area and select remote demos nationwide.

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Those who are selected for closed beta are eligible for reduced rate unlimited accounts in the near future as a thank you for the priceless feedback they will provide for us. We will only offer closed beta accounts to a very small group of people, so please sign up for them as soon as you can.

To sign up, simply click on the link here and fill out a very brief form. We will be in contact with you soon to follow up. Thank you for your support!

The link: http://www.scholarhero.com/beta-signup

Scholar Hero would like to thank a lot of individuals for helping us get to this point:

To learn more about Scholar Hero, visit scholarhero.com or fill out our contact form to speak directly to our staff. You can follow us on Facebook, Twitter, LinkedIn, and Google+

Once again, the link to sign up for closed beta: http://www.scholarhero.com/beta-signup

Thank you, Idea Foundry! (Scholar Hero Forges Ahead)

Idea Foundry (www.ideafoundry.org)

Idea Foundry (www.ideafoundry.org)

At the end of February, Scholar Hero will come to the end of its term in the Entertainment and Ed Tech Accelerator Program hosted by Idea Foundry, one of the leading investing entities in innovation and technology in southwestern Pennsylvania. The experience was a truly blessed one.

Scholar Hero founder Lee Ngo and Idea Foundry Entertainment and Education Initiatives Program Director Gary Gardiner

Scholar Hero founder Lee Ngo and Idea Foundry Program Director Gary Gardiner

Under the mentoring of Gary Gardiner, director of this selective program, we were able to accomplish what once seemed impossible: virtually complete Scholar Hero’s minimally viable product (to release for private beta within the next few weeks!)

idea foundry pdf

Our page in the Idea Foundry Entertainment and Ed Tech Sector – 2013

We now realize the importance of accelerators in communities that hope to stimulate their regional economies and encourage ambitious people to forge something real and sustainable. Pittsburgh is truly lucky to have so many of these entities (a lot of them not-for-profit, no less), and we are more than honored to be a part of them.

A little preview of Scholar Hero: Version One!

A little preview of Scholar Hero: Version One!

Our hope is that Scholar Hero has met the high expectations of the Idea Foundry and will want to continue this fruitful relationship in the future. Without their boost of confidence, funding, and networking, our company would certainly be in a very different place. For more information about the Idea foundry, and their Entertainment and Ed Tech Accelerator Program, visit www.ideafoundry.org or follow this link.

Lee Ngo
Founder
Scholar Hero, Inc.

A Question of Kwanzaa: What Is It?

The phrase “Happy Holidays” has gained prominence as a catch-all way to be inclusive. While it’s a well-intentioned umbrella, one gets the impression that it is meant to stop any awkward Merry Christmas/Happy Hanukkah mix-ups, while something like Kwanzaa is left out in the rain, and completely out of mind.  This is not a product of dismissal, though. It is merely a lack of general understanding. For those not familiar, here is a very brief explanation of Kwanzaa.

Origins

Kwanzaa is celebrated from December 26th to January 1st. Its concept is derived from the first Egyptian harvest festival, still celebrated by some in Africa. Its name is taken from the Swahili phrase “matunda ya kwanza” (“first fruits”).  However, Kwanzaa is not rooted in a history of religious precedent. It was born from much more recent events: the African-American struggle of the sixties.

Kwanzaa was established 1966 by Dr. Maulana Ron Karenga as a means of reconstructing African-American identity and reaffirming social and cultural bonds.

Practices

Like any holiday, Kwanzaa has its own celebratory colors, traditions, and symbols. In addition to decorating with the colors black, red, and green, observers will ceremoniously place the symbols of Kwanza (The Corn, The Mat, The Crops, and others) in their homes. Gifts are given to the children, with the stipulation that one must always be a book and one a heritage symbol–emphasizing commitment to learning and to tradition.

As It Stands

        There does not seem to be any available accurate information on how many people celebrate the holiday or whether its popularity has grown or diminished over time. It seems to be relegated to a niche group that is much less vocal than the countless articles I found denouncing it, despite its original purpose of unity.

While you may never knowingly meet a celebrant, now that you are armed with some understanding, you can add a little more weight to your “Happy Holidays.”

Source: http://www.officialkwanzaawebsite.org/greetings_and.shtml#go to gifts

Nathan Repp is a writer for Scholar Hero, Inc.

Holiday Hunger Games: Staying Smart Amidst Black Friday Madness

Black Friday is a widespread corporate strategy to increase sales going into the Holiday season (“black” comes from the term for positive sales figures). Every year, on the day following Thanksgiving, stores make huge markdowns on much of their stock. However, the horror stories that surround the war zone that is Black Friday make it seem as though the only way to win is not to play.

You can come out on top and unscathed if you arm yourself with good practices. Shopping smart can mitigate potential trauma and help you navigate a seemingly endless sea of deals. At Scholar Hero, we are firm believers in minimizing stress and having productive endeavors, even when shopping. So, for those trying to furnish their dorm, upgrade their phone, or bring the complete theatre experience of watching The Hobbit into their home home, we have some tips on intelligent shopping.

1) Shop Online

The advent of the internet has ensured that web servers take the abuse and not you. Most Black Friday sales that are available in-store are also available online. All big name stores will offer attractive sales so keep an eye on their ads.

  • BestBuy.com – When purchasing electronics, Best Buy will live up to their namesake during Black Friday. Better still, their deals are available right now.

  • Overstock.com – With no brick or mortar stores, Overstock can offer great prices on just about anything.

  • Amazon.com – While not a traditional store, do not forget about Amazon. Keep an eye on their daily and hourly deals.

  • For a complete roundup of Black Friday ads and updates, visit theblackfriday.com

2) Budget

Black Friday is a great way to land the things you want for a price that you can afford. However, this point is made moot if you spend too much on items that you do not need.

  • Money – Determine what things you intend to buy before you do your shopping and stick to it, no matter what other bargains arise.

  • Time – Remember that time is a resource, too. Is it worth eight hours of your day to catch a specific deal? Create a time allowance for all of your purchases.

  • Health – We only have so much calmness, energy, and emotional well-being to give.  Do not overtax yourself. Take breaks. Get plenty of rest. Keep in mind that your health is more important than a new computer monitor (after all, you can live without the monitor).

3) If You Have To Go Out…

  • Does the store price match? You might not have to visit several location to get the best deal.

  • Park far from the store. Do not get gridlocked by the less savvy comers and goers.

  • Go early. There will always be a rush but there will not always be stock available.

Good luck. Be Smart. Be safe.

  Nathan Repp is a writer for Scholar Hero, Inc.

The Freshman and the First Year: Tips For A Fulfilling Finish

Like all of Aesop’s fables, The Crown and the Pitcher uses few words to teach infinitely applicable lessons. It’s also a fantastic metaphor for succeeding in higher education. For those unfamiliar, the fable can be read here. Simply put, it is the story of a thirsty crow that drops small stones into a pitcher until the water is high enough to drink. The water is his reward for intellect and diligence in the same way that a successful college year is reward to first-year students. Here are four stones that a struggling freshman can use to fill their own pitchers in the coming weeks:

Organization

Devise a system that works for you and organize as much of your life as you can. Having a well-planned schedule can lower stress, improve performance, and keep your life within your control.

Health

A healthy lifestyle is a key component in combating stress. Too often do students make room for their studies by neglecting other important factors of their life. Sleep well, keep a balanced diet, and exercise often. While these might seem to take up time, in the end they’ll improve your mood and keep you mentally sharp.

Resources

There is an entire university that is as close to your fingertips as your computer. Use it. Between libraries, writing centers, and office hours, nothing should be able to escape your understanding.

Community

Get involved. Whether it is making friends, joining organizations, or engaging others in the classroom, a good community can be the support system needed to maintain health, happiness, and motivation through your first semester.

 Casting these stones into your pitcher can help you survive your first year in higher education. Do you have any other pebbles of advice? Drop them into the comments below.

 Nathan Repp is a writer for Scholar Hero, Inc.

Scholar Hero is accepted into the Idea Foundry’s Entertainment & Ed Tech Accelerator Program!

Yay!

(from left) Technical Director Michael Butler, Founder and Executive Director Lee Ngo, and Idea Foundry Program Manager Gary Gardiner

Amazing news for Scholar Hero! On November 5th, 2013, we have accepted our invitation to join the Idea Foundry’s Entertainment & Ed Tech Accelerator Program! The Idea Foundry (www.ideafoundry.org) is one of Pittsburgh’s premiere technological and business startup accelerator programs in southwestern Pennsylvania. Their Entertainment & Ed Tech program is unparalleled in the region, and it is perfect for Scholar Hero’s current aspirations.

For Scholar Hero, this is a terrific milestone. This program provides the company with its first official investment, just nine months after its incorporation and barely a year after its initial conception during Startup Weekend Pittsburgh #2. The Idea Foundry also provides mentoring, advisement, and other standard resources that come with a prestigious, competitive accelerator. We haven’t been this excited since being selected as part of the inaugural class of the Thrill Mill Hustle Den incubator program!

Scholar Hero founder Lee Ngo pitching at Google Pittsburgh for the Thrill Mill Thrival Innovation series.

Scholar Hero founder Lee Ngo pitching at Google Pittsburgh during Thrill Mill’s Innovation Series.

Another great perk about the Idea Foundry is its close proximity to Carnegie Mellon University and the University of Pittsburgh, schools with students, professors, and staff that we hope will be among the first early adopters of our platform. Testing and validating our product could not be made any easier for us now, and we hope that more established partnerships might emerge as well from the improved locations.

Moreover, because of our acceptance into the Entertainment & Ed Tech Accelerator Program, we are also being evaluated early for Idea Foundry’s highly competitive Core Program as well. Potentially, this puts us in a position to receive more funding! (One step at a time…)

The Scholar Hero Development Team hard at work on our first prototype.

The Scholar Hero Development Team hard at work on our first prototype.

“We are truly ecstatic and grateful to have the support of the Idea Foundry as we continue to develop our platform and build our potential user base,” says Lee Ngo, founder and executive director of Scholar Hero. “Program Manager Gary Gardiner and the Idea Foundry have provided us with wonderful feedback over the course of the year, and they have been a major influence in our overall conceptual, technical, and business development. We look forward to our continued partnership over the next three months and beyond.”

We hope that this is the first of many future successes to come! Our selection into this renowned accelerator program provides further validation for our unique and innovative concept, but now the pressure is on for us to deliver! We hope to do you proud, Idea Foundry!

To learn more about Scholar Hero, visit http://www.scholarhero.com or fill out the contact form below:

Lee Ngo is the founder and executive director of Scholar Hero, Inc. All rights reserved.

The Mathematics of Music: Tool’s Lateralus

Music is equal parts art and mathematics; however, some bands take this relationship to an extremely fascinating depth. Tool’s 2001 album, Lateralus, deals heavily with metaphysical themes built upon mathematical structures, such as the Fibonacci Sequence.

The Fibonacci Sequence

        The Fibonacci Sequence is a numerical pattern in which each number is the sum of the two preceding numbers. As an equation, it is expressed as Fn=F(n-1)+F(n-2), and it looks like this: 0,1,1,2,3,5,8,13… It is a sequence that has become particularly interesting due to its recurring presence in computer programming, nature, and in this case, music.

Fibonacci Fractal. (Source: Anders Sandberg http://www.flickr.com/photos/arenamontanus/)

The Golden Spiral

The titular track on Lateralus contains the most prevalent use of the Fibonacci Sequence. For one, it alternates between three unusual meters (9/8, 8/8, and 7/7) that together comprise the sixteenth number in the sequence (987).

More convincing is the vocal pattern of the lead singer during the first verse. The syllables in each line are sung as follows: 1, 1, 2, 3, 5, 8, 5, 3, 2, 1, 1, 2, 3, 5, 8, 13, 8, 5, 3. These ascending and descending sequences tie thematically to the “spirals” mentioned later in the lyrics by mimicking “The Golden Spiral”—a special shape that expands infinitely by a constant factor and it is the very factor the Fibonacci sequence presents.

The Golden Spiral. (Source: Helen Stevens http://www.flickr.com/photos/helen_stevens/)

“The Holy Gift”

        To go a step farther and incorporate the whole album into this theory, fans have rearranged the order of the tracks on the album into a similarly shaped sequence. The key to the order was placing track 13 in the middle and arranging the other tracks in additive pairs on either side. The songs  are said to match up with each other in a more sensible way, and makes for the “proper” order.

        Unconvinced? Here is a video, with song accompaniment, that makes a more in depth argument: 

Source:

https://math.temple.edu/~reich/Fib/fibo.html

http://www.peteofthestreet.net/sayz/C1151806467/E1494764863/

Nathan Repp is a writer for Scholar Hero, Inc.