Besides the all powerful Google, can anyone think of some kid-friendly search engines? I have a content filter at my school that's not too bad, but maybe there's a search engine out there that's already filtered? What are your ideas?

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Hi Daniel,

instaGrok tends to be a more kid friendly search engine because it organizes search results based upon the difficulty of the concepts.  It also does a good job of integrating images and videos so that it is not as intimidating as Google.  I also like the fact that it eliminates commercial sites that are inappropriate for younger students.

Hi Mark,

I teach high school, and I've always had the attitude that rather than give students an easier search engine to use, we are better off teaching them how to use google well.  This means understanding how to search using quotes, using "site:", and using the advanced search tab.  But looking at InstaGrok helps me see how much different search could be done today.

If you don't mind sharing, what is the revenue model of InstaGrok?  Are there going to be sponsored results, is it going to be a paid service, or is there a different model you are pursuing?

Hi Eric,

Thank you for your feedback.  You are posing a question that we honestly have no answer for.  I can say that we are a start-up with only two very hardworking individuals that are motivated to improve education.  I can also state that we have absolutely no plans to charge for this service.  We have been selected as one of the top ten educational technology companies by ImagineK12 (www.imaginek12) and they are funding us.  

Currently, our investors only want us to focus on building an amazing product.  If at some point we need revenues, we have several options.  The first is to develop a premium version of instaGrok that we charge for.  Another is to include targeted educational ads (textbooks, books, classes, tutors) that are matched to your query.  A third is to develop brand new educational technology.  There may be other options as well.

If you have not used myGroks and quizzes, you may still be missing our vision.  We are a research engine (rather than a search engine that adds no value to search results) that is also building learning assessment technology.  myGroks are editable, shareable (with teachers) research journals that capture websites visited, concepts learned and quiz results.  Quiz questions are automatically generated from content as the student browses websites.  We are also building the capability for students to build their own concept maps within their Grok.

I hope this helps.  Please let me know your feedback, ideas and questions.  If you prefer to communicate directly, I can be reached at



"If at some point we need revenues"

You are in a startup incubator.  You are going to need revenues, because your investors are going to want to see a financial return on their investment.

That said, I like what I see from InstaGrok already.  I like all the ways it looks at information, and presents it.  The interface is very intuitive, and professional.  I would be very comfortable using it with students; it has none of the "cheesiness" I see in many ed-focused sites.  The quality of thinking that has gone into it so far makes me look forward to seeing further developments on the site.

I have to say, though, that revenue models for ed-tech companies are critical.  I feel pretty strongly that the profit motive has a negative influence on ed companies in general.  This is not to say that people at ed companies should not get paid.  But people need to think about their revenue models pretty carefully.  That is one of the reasons I am curious to watch InstaGrok, and imaginek12 as a whole.

For example,consider  "develop a premium version of instaGrok that we charge for".  This approach could work, if you have a user base that values the service enough to pay for it.  But as soon as you charge for your service, you choose to contribute to a widening of the achievement gap between low-income schools and schools that are well-funded.  You can say it's not your job to fix school funding issues, but that's an easy way out.  One of the ways to minimize achievement gaps is to make high-quality educational tools available to every student and every teacher.  There are funding models that can support this, and I really hope instaGrok and imaginek12 are considering this pretty seriously.

Ads taint ed sites as well.  I will watch instaGrok, and some of the other imaginek12 companies to see how you all approach this issue.

We have watched educators give control of the US education system over to legislators who are not willing to support the actual hard work it takes to truly improve education.  I would hate to see VCs have a similar effect on ed-tech companies who have the potential to make significant contributions to moving our education system forward.

Good luck, and I hope instaGrok becomes a good example of how we can find a balance between building a strong company, and providing a high-quality educational service to every student.

PS I love the name!

Hi Eric,

Thank you for your thoughtful response.  I assure you that we will keep these issues in mind as we grapple with the challenges of creating a sustainable business model and providing a high-quality educational service to every student.  On the other hand, if our service is irrelevant, we should go get other jobs.  We have no income from instaGrok and ImagineK12's investment covers only our expenses.  Please help us make instaGrok relevant by using it and spreading the word.  That is the only way we can continue to provide this service.


"Please help us make instaGrok relevant by using it and spreading the word."

I will!

I have used SweetSearch a little bit with my kids.  It is already filtered so searching is much safer.

This post could be useful.

Surfing Internet and Learning Safely

 Have you tried the following?  My own children uses these sites.  Hopefully these helps.

Hi Daniel.  I introduced Kids Click to my students.  I really like the site for many reasons but the best feature is that when you search a subject, the links that come up also tell you the reading level for each site.  My fourth graders are then able to choose the websites that are at their reading level and that they can get the most out of.

I just went to instaGrok and checked it out. I like how it helps filter your search choices and it seemed very user friendly that even my second graders could catch on quickly, so I agree with Mark it is kid friendly; however, Google is becoming more user friendly for younger students as well. Thanks for all of the suggestions they are very helpful.



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