2 Girls Create Award Wining App Musiklearn Which Helps Kids W/ Dyslexia & Autism


There is a big push to get girls interested in science and technology from an early age, because the STEM sectors are the fastest growing industries in the market today. In the US alone there are over 100 million unfilled STEM jobs (science, tech, engineering & math) which is why if girls aren’t encouraged to get interested in these areas, these jobs are going to remain unfilled.

One of the main problems preventing girls from becoming interested in STEM industries is gender stereotyping in toys. Boys and girls start to shape their attitudes toward the world and form their identities from a very early age, and if the resources aren’t available for them to realize the potential to be anything, regardless of their gender, the kinds of futures they envisage become filtered through narrow gender stereotypes.

Girls Who Code, an organization based out of New York which offers coding workshops to young girls, have really been on the forefront of placing girls front and center when it comes to learning basic technology skills. They’ve teamed up with Google in the past for an initiative called ‘Made With Code‘ which teaches them how they can use coding to create amazing world-changing ideas.

More recently they partnered with Samsung for their Mobile App Challenge, where they soured the nation to find the best and brightest ideas. They issued a callout to Girls Who Code members around the US to design and code a mobile app that addressed a need in their school or community.


In late December 2014 the winners were announced: two middle school girls from Erie, Colorado, Cassie Mahakian, 12, and Ashley Willis, 13.

“The team’s app, Musiklearn, was designed to help young kids learn in a different way. Categorized by subject area and disability, the app will help students master new concepts by connecting those concepts to sound and music. When students are able to improve in the classroom, the whole community benefits,” states an official press release about the winners.

“In an effort to remove the stigma associated with STEM, Samsung created the coding challenge to enhance GWC’s existing coding education and inspire girls to see STEM as an exciting, interesting discipline to pursue in school and beyond. With only 25 percent of STEM jobs currently being held by women, Samsung Mobile and GWC are dedicated to increasing technology skills amongst young girls across the nation.”

Samsung representatives traveled to Cassie and Ashley’s school to present them with their prize, a new Samsung Laptop, and congratulate them on the idea. Not only is the accolade a significant step in increasing visibility for girls in tech, the app itself is also representative of what girls are capable of if given the opportunities.

Musiklearn aims to enhance brain function and soothe students ages eight and beneath through digital word games and music. The app targets students with dyslexia and autism but is effective for any student, the developers said.


“We have private connections with autism and dyslexia,” Ashley mentioned. “I was part of the control group in an autism study and got to know a lot of the autistic kids there and became pals with them so it implies a lot to me that I could help them.”

Cassie has household and good friends who struggle with dyslexia, so the girls fused their passions and tips to build Musiklearn.

Both girls hope their idea will be used and developed on a larger scale as it could potentially help many more dyslexic and autistic people. They envision their app being developed into games that could help patients with these disabilities. If an app like this eventually gets released to the public, it will be a significant game changer for how girls are associated with tech.

Another young female duo who have come through the Girls Who Code programs, Sophie Houser, 17, and Andy Gonzales, 16, created a game which became a viral sensation in the summer of 2014.

They created Tampon Run, a mobile game which engages audiences to send an important message.


“The main character runs down the street firing tampons at her enemies, leaping over their heads to collect more when she runs out. The goal isn’t to build an arsenal and go all Rambo, however; it’s to challenge the idea that in society, we’re more comfortable with guns and violence than we are with teaching girls to be comfortable with their bodies,” wrote Michael McCutcheon from .Mic about the game, which he also called “the most powerful video game of the year.”

The girls came up with the idea to build a game with a social mission. Andy wanted to develop something with a feminist twist and initially thought of parodying the hypersexualization of women in video games. As they were developing their concept, Houser joked that they should have a character throwing tampons at people. They wanted to challenge perceptions about women and things we’re not comfortable talking about, but should be.

What both these examples show (and they are only two out of a growing number) is that schools and institutions can no longer afford to ignore the other half of the population. Both girls and boys need to have space from an early age (from parents as well as schools) to develop creativity without gender stereotypes hindering their imaginative process.

The ability to transcend barriers and challenge perceptions, just like the Tampon Run game is trying to do, is an important thing that needs to be instilled into girls. We’re excited to see what the future of technology looks like, because we have no doubt there are going to be plenty of women up there with all the well-known men creating ideas that will continue to change the world.


One Comment

  1. Yes, yes, yes!!! This is wonderful. Women/girls are the ones that work with children at home most of the time and seem to be the ones that know what is needed for people with dyslexia and autism. I’m hoping with more men being stay at home Dads that they too will see problems. What a game changer this app can have. Women really can do it all. Thanks ladies.

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