Monthly Archives: May 2016

May 13 2016 edition

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Games and Education

Remake Learning DaysLast week was Remake Learning Days in the Pittsburgh area, an amazing series of seminars and workshops focused on innovative learning projects across the region. At the kick-off for the event, area foundations and corporate donors announced $25 million in support for Remake Learning’s STEAM-focused approach to education. “You really are a model for the country”, Thomas Kalil, deputy director of policy for White House OSTP, told the gathering. I totally agree!

We jumped the gun last week and pointed you to the winners of the US Department of Education’s IES SBIR grants. We just get so excited about these grants each year, since there are always some great education game proposals. Here’s the official announcement of this year’s winners, on the IES Blog.

You probably heard about the trouble that Los Angeles Unified had when rolling out a one-to-one iPad program a few years ago. But you may not have heard about the 114 schools that Apple has been working with since, learning ways to integrate MacBooks and iPads more easily into the classroom. The Wall Street Journal covered their impact.

We were sad to learn of Microsoft’s announcement that it is shutting down Project Spark, an ambitious effort to make game development more accessible and to create a community for people to easily share their creations.

A meta-analysis of research studies focused on one-to-one laptop programs in schools concludes that the programs definitely help improve students’ academic achievement, but perhaps less than interventions such as smaller class sizes or individual tutoring. Definitely worth a read!

Digital Promise has launched a tool to help educators and ed-tech developers find relevant research more easily. They’ve categorized research into 12 broad topics that you can dive deep on or search through to find information useful to you. Check the video tutorial!

Fans of education games are sometimes also fans of the Civilization series, turn-based historical strategy games that are simultaneously fun and educational! Gamasutra published a long piece about the history of Civilization, which initially launched in 1991.

Coding and Making

SpheroAn impressively long article on Sphero was published in the New Yorker last week, describing both the history of development of the rolling robot as well as how it is increasingly being used in classrooms to help teach coding skills. A great read!

Game engine creator Unity Technologies announced a series of five events around the world on game industry diversity and women’s careers in gaming. If you’re in Amsterdam, San Francisco, Shanghai, or Los Angeles, be sure to check them out!

Can you teach coding using a wooden toy? The Wall Street Journal explores three toys: the wooden Quadrilla, the littleBits kits, and The Mover Kit from Technology Will Save Us. I’m not sure if you can teach code with a wooden toy, but I do know it would be a lot of fun to do it with any of these!

The state of Mississippi is beginning computer science education pilots in six school districts. The CS4MS program will take place in both elementary and high schools, with high school students utilizing the Exploring Computer Science course.

Five finalists were announced for the Reach Higher Career App Challenge, a collaboration of the White House and the US Department of Education. Finalists will show their prototypes to judges later this summer and compete for a $100,000 prize from IBM and Microsoft.

Guerilla Tea, a game development firm in Scotland, worked with the National Deaf Children’s Society and Abertay University to run a game development workshop for a group of deaf children. Read about this great event on Gamasutra.

The Open Roberta project is a robot programming language designed for teaching robot programming to grade school and high school students. The program uses a block-based programming language NEPO, based on Google’s blockly.

Stanford’s Graduate School of Education held an event on equity in making last week, with EdSurge CEO Betsy Corcoran moderating a panel with Nichole Pinkard, Rafranz Davis, and Paulo Blikstein. The summary is a great read, check it out on EdSurge.


Trump's Wall gameTrump’s Wall (iOS, Android) – Help Donald Trump build a big wall in the latest game of the presidential season. It’s gonna be huuuuuge! Video.

Stardew Valley (PC) – This open-ended country life RPG reminds me of Zelda or Harvest Moon. Grow crops, make friends, build your house! It’s surprisingly addictive and fun. Video.

Hopscotch for iOS (iOS) – Learn to program using this playful and user-friendly app, and share your creations with your friends. Now available for Apple devices. Video.


3D Printed Duck Feet3-D Printer Gives Duck a Second Chance – A middle school technology teacher in Wisconsin used his 3D printer to print a new pair of feet for this charming duck.

Games for Change: Amplify Games – Last week, Games for Change sat down for a Hangout with Amplify Games, publisher of a series of educational games that includes Twelve a Dozen, The World of Lexica, and Sim Cell.

Minecraft Wii U – Super Mario – Minecraft welcomes Mario and friends to its blocky world in a free update for the Wii U edition on May 18.

Quadcopter Outdoor Perching – The Biomimetics Lab at Stanford has developed a mechanism for quadcopters to perch on walls and ceilings. Wow!

RapID: A Framework for Low-Latency Objects with RFID – Disney is developing an impressive system that tracks wireless, battery-less RFID tags to allow for unique interactions with toys and exhibits.


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.
Computer Science Teachers Association conference – CSTA’s annual conference for teachers. San Diego, CA. July 10-12.
Serious Play Conference – Leadership conference for people who create serious game programs. Chapel Hill, NC. July 26-28.
DiGRA / Foundations of Digital Games – Research conference for game academics and educators. Dundee, Scotland. August 1-6.
Scratch@MIT 2016 – Celebrating the Scratch community through hands-on workshops and collaboration. Cambridge, MA. August 4-6.


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