Valiant USA Company Backgrounder
While Valiant USA was launched in January 2004, Valiant Technology’s U.S. operations
started in 1992. Valiant USA is a subsidiary of Valiant Technology Ltd. of London, England.
The Company’s Founding
Valiant Technology Ltd. was founded in April 1985 by the late professor Tom Stonier and
Dave Catlin, the Managing Director. In the early 1980’s, New York native Stonier opened
and headed the School of Science and Technology at the University of Bradford in England.
Technology and education were a natural interest. Catlin, who worked as a freelance
engineering designer, had became inspired by the work of Seymour Papert and the
philosophy of Logo. He recalls:
As a freelancer, I became acutely aware of the importance of problem solving. I
thought Papert’s revolution of teaching people to think was an amazing idea.
Award Winning, Educationally Sound Products
Stonier established the educational credentials of the company and, though he passed away in
1999, his philosophy still underpins the whole company rationale. The combination of
Stonier’s vision and Catlin’s design flair created a set of award-winning products. The first
product was Turtle, a classic Logo-based device that looks like a turtle and provides a tool for
students to investigate a particular field of knowledge. It is still remembered by many
American teachers. The Valiant Turtle was included in the book, Best of British Design,
published by the UK’s Design Council.
Roamer, a robot with its own on-board Logo program, was launched in 1990. It is a
testimony to its educational value that Valiant still sells the product nearly 15 years later.
Roamer won the inaugural “BETT Award” as Best Primary Product in 1998 and also
received a “Millennium Award.” Valiant is currently developing a next-generation
educational robot based on Roamer.
Valiant followed Roamer robot with the development of a hands-on design technology
product called Inventa, which also won “Millennium” product status and the “Horner’s
Award” for the “most innovative design using plastic” – awarded by the British Plastics
In 2002, the company was awarded the prestigious “Queen’s Award for Innovation” in
recognition of its track record in creative and useful educational product designs.
The Company’s Philosophy
Dave Catlin explains the company’s philosophy:
We wanted to bring good education together with good design. This means we
start by defining the problem and then looking for a creative solution. You
cannot limit the solution to a particular form or technology; this can lead to
absurd situations. For example, some companies can design exotic, high-tech,
often expensive solutions when perhaps a better solution could consist of a few
cents of paper or plastic. They create software solutions because they see
themselves as programmers. On the other hand, Valiant will use any kind of
medium: book, software, bits of plastic or paper. What has to come first is the
educational viability of your objectives and solutions. This has not always led to
the greatest commercial success, but we have created a range of niche products
that users in more than 27 countries have used to help millions of students excel.
The U.S. Market
In 1992, the company began evaluating the North American education market for sales and
product opportunities. Nancy Kokat, formerly of Dimensions in Learning, became Valiant’s
U.S. agent. During the succeeding years the company gained a strong grasp of the American
approach to education. This was reflected in 2001, at the Michigan Technology Conference,
when the LITE organization awarded Dave Catlin its “Firefly Award” for his outstanding
contribution to technology education.
MathAmigo for Handheld Technologies
In 1998, Valiant started the research that would lead to MathAmigo. The decision came in
response to the objectives of the State Systemic Initiatives. Catlin explains:
Our products have always been cross-curricular and very constructivist. While
we still hold those beliefs, we felt teachers needed some practical help in
preparing lessons. So we set up a study group to look at the problem. It was
during that time that I had the inspiration to look at creating a math machine.
We found some excellent research on the use of devices like TI’s, Little Professor,
etc. This was done in the early 1980s at Southampton University in England.
The work clearly showed the idea had potential to solve many of the problems we
saw math teachers facing in schools. Our further studies and the NCET’s
research on Integrated Learning Systems like Success Maker really showed that
portable handheld technology was essential if we are to bring the full advantage
of technology to the classroom.
After four years of research and development, Valiant created MathAmigo, a K-8 standardsbased
math software system. This included making a specific handheld device now called
Classic MathAmigo to run the software. Much of the practical testing was done at school
sites in the United States. Then in 2003, the company became aware of PalmOne’s efforts
and launched a version for Palm OS devices, plus the AlphaSmart Dana. Valiant again
expanded the software system in 2005 to be compatible with more operating systems and
devices, including PCs, laptops, tablets, and handhelds that use the Windows and Windows
Valiant USA, a Subsidiary of Valiant Technology Ltd.
At the start of 2004, the company reorganized its U.S. operation and started distributing
its products under its new subsidiary, Valiant USA. Nancy Kokat still runs the day-today
operations. After leaving GoKnow, Debbie DeSousa joined the operation to
manage marketing development. As a result the company has established MathAmigo
in a large number of school districts and partnered with AlphaSmart and Educational
Resource Services for distribution. Valiant USA is working with several American
universities including Rutgers University Center for Math and Science Education and
Medgar Evers College plus the Education Technology Think Tank to assist schools in
closing the achievement gap and improving educational outcomes for the most
disadvantaged students. These partnerships are also helping to generate more
enthusiasm for science and math, ensuring America’s students are prepared for jobs in
an increasingly digital and global environment. Recently, Valiant earned congressional
recognition from U.S. Rep. Major Owens (D-NY) and a partnership award from the
Education Technology Think Tank for its collaborative work to improve math teaching
--Nancy Kokat, Valiant USA, 888-366-6628, firstname.lastname@example.org
--Charlene Blohm, C. Blohm & Associates, Inc., 608-839-9800, email@example.com