Monthly Archives: February 2017

February 24 2017 edition

Thanks to Allen Brooks, Phil Honeywell, Steve Place, Tammie Schrader, and Russ Shilling for contributions to this issue! You can send us your news and favorites by replying back to this newsletter or using the contact information shown at the bottom.

Games and Education

Humble Freedom BundleHumble Bundle raised $6.5 million for the ACLU and other human rights charities through a massive partnership with game developers and book publishers. The “Humble Freedom Bundle” collection included $600 worth of digital goods for a donation of $30 or more.

Have you wondered what the differences are between the “Classroom” offerings from Google, Microsoft, and Apple? This valuable summary piece from EdSurge will give you the details.

Filament Games and iCivics will take part in the latest Games for Change Industry Circle livestream, coming March 1. Learn their “4 P’s of Designing Learning Games for Impact”.

The 2017 NMC Horizon Report Higher Education Edition launched, highlighting key trends, significant challenges, and important developments in edtech for colleges and universities. There’s also a video!

Google Expeditions are 360-degree VR experiences designed for teachers and students. Three educators shared their experiences using them at TCEA 2017. According to Strategy Analytics, Google Cardboard is the market-leading VR platform at this point. Admittedly, it’s a piece of cardboard with no screen and costs about $20. Still, it’s quite useful if you have a compatible smartphone!

Game developers are coming together next week for #ResistJam, a game jam focused on producing games to confront authoritarianism and abuse of power. We’re pretty excited about this event. Talk about using games for impact!

Makey Makey is still matching DonorsChoose classroom donations of $35 or more with a free Makey Makey if you tweet them the receipt. The promotion is going just until the end of February, hurry!

Coding and Making

Open MIC: Breaking the MoldOpen MIC, a nonprofit that focuses on diversity, released a study highlighting the tech industry’s racial diversity challenges, “Breaking the Mold: Investing in Racial Diversity in Tech”. It’s a great report, filled with current data, recommendations, and resources.

Microsoft has been “Hacking STEM” lately, releasing monthly exercises and lesson plans to help teachers modernize their current STEM curriculum with project-based learning. Check out the summary blog post, or just go directly to the hacking!

I appreciated Alfred Thompson’s recent blog post on choosing the right programming language to teach. No matter which language you choose, someone will think you should have chosen something different! I’m a big fan of teaching languages that will be valuable to the student outside of school (for middle-schoolers and up). But some of the more peculiar languages may be easier for a novice to learn. Hmmm!

Have you been thinking about building a school makerspace? THE Journal lists seven great tips for those planning out a makerspace.

Did you know DIY Electronics company SparkFun has a grant program? The SparkFun Community Partner program awards products and sponsorships based on the applicant’s needs. Check it out!

Techbridge Girls recently held a showing of the movie Hidden Figures in Seattle, with donors sponsoring movie tickets for local girls and their family members. It was a huge success, with over 500 people attending the movie and asking questions of a panel of inspiring women in technology afterward. Give it a try in your city!

Ozobot recently raised $3 million in venture funding to help finance production of its cute coding robot. Learn more about the Ozobot robots and the company’s future plans in this TechCrunch piece.


Darwin's DemonsDarwin’s Demons (PC, Mac) – Fight against a swarm of enemies that evolve over time based on their successes and failures – survive as long as you can! Video.

PBS KIDS Games (iOS, Android) – The Kidscreen Awards’ winner for best tablet game for preschool kids. Play free learning games with characters from your favorite PBS KIDS shows! Video.

Nickelodeon: Code a Character (Web) – The Kidscreen Awards’ winner for best smartphone learning app for kids. Learn to code with Spongebob Squarepants! Video.

Cut the Rope: Magic (iOS, Android) – The Kidscreen Awards’ winner for best kids’ smartphone game. Help Om Nom escape an evil wizard’s traps in this new version of the popular physics puzzle game. Video.

Toca Blocks (iOS, Android) – The Kidscreen Awards’ winner for best kids’ tablet game. Make your own world with Toca Boca flair in this dynamic 2D block universe that you can build in and play with. Video.

CodeGamer (Arduino) – The US Toy Industry Association’s Tech Toy of the Year. Learn the basics of Arduino with this fun programmable game controller. Includes games, coding, and DIY electronics challenges! Video.


Exact Instructions ChallengeExact Instructions Challenge: PB&J Edition – Father Josh Darnit enlisted his kids to help him make a peanut butter and jelly sandwich, and followed their instructions in an extremely precise manner. This is a great example of an algorithm in action… as well as what can go wrong if you aren’t explicit enough!

The Game Makers: Inside Story – A ten-part video series exploring the process of storytelling, design, and directing in blockbuster video games. So much great stuff!

Project Eagle Trailer – Blackbird Interactive, maker of the beautiful game Homeworld: Deserts of Kharak, partnered with NASA’s Jet Propulsion Laboratory to envision what a future Mars settlement might look like. Shown at DICE Summit 2017. Beautiful work.

What’s Up With Computer Science Discoveries? –’s latest course, for grades 7-9, utilizes hardware to give students an experience of programming physical devices for creativity, communication, problem solving, and fun.

Meet Dona Bailey, Programmer of Centipede – Dona Bailey, former Atari coin-op programmer, talks about her experience joining the company and programming Centipede. Check her Reddit AMA for more details!


Game Developers Conference – The biggest conference to attend for game developers! San Francisco, CA. February 27-March 3.
SXSWedu – Popular education festival prior to SXSW Music / Film / Interactive. Austin, TX. March 6-9.
SIGCSE 2017 – The largest computing education conference worldwide, organized by ACM SIGCSE. Seattle, WA. March 8-11.
National Science Teachers Association conference – NSTA’s annual conference for science teachers. Los Angeles, CA. March 30-April 2.


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