Monthly Archives: March 2016

March 25 2016 edition

Thanks to Dan Baden and Russ Shilling for sending contributions to this issue! Please forward us your news and favorites to the contact information shown at the bottom.

Games and Education

Gonzalo FrascaGonzalo Frasca has been creating news games longer than just about anyone – creating the game “September 12” (video) back in 2003, and working with a small team to develop a game for the presidential campaign of Howard Dean. talks with Frasca about his new role as Chief Design Officer at WeWantToKnow, the company responsible for the DragonBox series.

A new course from Penn State’s College of Education being offered this coming summer will train educators on how to integrate commercial off-the-shelf (COTS) games into their classrooms.

Dan White, CEO of Filament Games, lays out four technology trends that will impact game-based learning, in this insightful blog post on Filament’s website.

Researchers in Syracuse University’s biology department are finding that peer-led team learning can lead to impressive improvements. Students who complete an introductory biology class are invited back the following year to act as peer leaders for new students.

Tega robotMIT’s Personal Robots Group is exploring using a robot as a peer in one-on-one peer learning. Tega, a furry, brightly colored robot, can interpret facial expressions and mirror emotional responses. The video of students engaging with Tega is pretty wonderful.

The amazing Entertainment Technology Center at Carnegie Mellon University is seeking game design professionals to apply for a new full-time teaching track position at ETC in Redwood Shores, California. Check out the job posting for more details!

How has the 2014 increase in E-rate funding from the FCC impacted the percentage of schools with broadband and WiFi access? This article from THE Journal says it has led to dazzling improvements.

Coding and Making

BBC MicrobitThe BBC began shipping free BBC micro:bits to all Year 7 students across the UK last week. We’ve covered this impressive effort a number of times over the past few years so it’s great to see it come to fruition – the education-focused microcontroller can be programmed via the BBC’s website using a block editor, Javascript, Python, or Touch Develop.

Can we demystify “computational thinking”? The term is gaining increasing popularity in education circles, and represents a style of thinking in which we break down complex problems so that they can be more easily solved with the help of a computer. I think of computational thinking practices as what one goes through while solving a problem via computer programming, including data collection, problem decomposition, abstraction, and algorithm design. This ISTE article points the way to some excellent resources where you can learn more about computational thinking.

Curriki, an open educational resources site, has launched a free course called “Problem Solving through Computational Thinking for Educators”. The course is designed to help teachers learn to embed CT into their existing curriculum.

The White House’s Deputy Director for Technology and Innovation at OSTP, Tom Kalil, interviews John Pearce, co-founder of MV GATE, about “Hour of Code Nights”. The California non-profit runs these evening events to get K-5 students and their parents to learn their first hour of code together.

Women in Computer ScienceWhat happened to women in computer science, beginning in the 1980’s? Check out this informative infographic from

Claire Shorall is manager of computer science for Oakland Unified School District, and her AP computer science class is two-thirds female at a time when the engineering staff of most big tech companies is just 20% female! What’s her secret? Popular Mechanics learns more.

Make magazine revisits a 2009 editorial that boldly proposed adding makerspaces to public libraries. The argument for doing so is simple, and the impact is profound. How is it going in your neighborhood?

Chris O’Brien talks about how educators can bring makerspaces into schools, in this practical and on-the-ground useful article on Edutopia.

Seattle’s Big-Brained Superheroes Club is an impressive after-school program that encourages kids in an underserved neighborhood to engage in fun STEAM activities. Wow, when I write it like that it sounds boring, but holy cow it is anything but! Check out the article and video to learn more about this fun program that is grooming the next generation of science superstars.


Highlights Every DayHighlights Every Day App (iOS) – Highlights magazine brings “Fun with a Purpose” to your tablet with this app that brings daily educational stories, videos, and games. For ages 6+.


Carol DweckThe Journey to a Growth Mindset – Carol Dweck talks about her latest research into growth mindsets at a recent education event in Washington DC.

Tracy Fullerton Receives the 2016 GDCA Ambassador Award – At Game Developers Conference 2016, the Ambassador Award was given to the director of USC’s Game Innovation Lab (and creator of the game “Walden”), Tracy Fullerton.

Markus ‘Notch’ Persson Receives the 2016 GDCA Pioneer Award – Also from GDC, Notch, the creator of Minecraft, received the Pioneer Award for introducing game players around the world to the joy of being creative.

5 Ways to Supercharge Your STEAM Program With littleBits – In this Webinar from last week, educators discussed how to utilize littleBits in classrooms, libraries, and makerspaces.

Mind-Blowing Magic Magnets – A company named Correlated Magnetics has developed a way to print magnetic fields, creating complex “polymagnets”. This is some amazing science!

The LEGO Batman Movie – Batcave Teaser Trailer – This has nothing to do with education or games. But it does have Legos!


NSTA National Conference – Annual conference for the National Science Teachers Association. Nashville, TN. March 31-April 3.
Games and Media Summit – A day-long event at the Tribeca Film Festival, from Games for Change! New York, NY. April 18.
Scratch Day – Global network of events celebrating the Scratch programming environment. Worldwide. May 14.
XTech 2016 – The Experiential Technology & NeuroGaming Conference and Expo. San Francisco, CA. May 17-18.
National Week of Making – A US-wide celebration of all things Maker, June 17-23, with the National Maker Faire in Washington DC, June 18-19.
Games for Change – The 13th annual conference for using games for change. New York, NY. June 23-24.


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