Monthly Archives: March 2017

March 31 2017 edition

In this week’s newsletter: EduApp4Syria’s two winning educational games, Ignite My Future in School launches, EarthEcho’s STEM Cabinet of Curiosities site, and Mark receives the GDC Ambassador Award!

Thanks to Danielle Burnett, Sara Cornish, Erin Hoffman-John, Kat Shanahan, and Russ Shilling for contributing to the Level Up Report! Send us your news and favorites by replying back to this newsletter or using the contact information shown at the bottom.

Games and Education

Feed the MonsterWinners of the EduApp4Syria competition were recently announced, two games designed to help improve the literacy skills of the 2.5 million Syria children who are now without schools. Wow! The $1.7 million competition was driven by the Norwegian government with partners such as All Children Reading, USAID, World Vision, and the Australian Government. You can download the games (Feed the Monster, Antura and the Letters), or download the code from Github!

Survive the Sound is an interactive game designed to educate the public about the plight of salmon in the Pacific Northwest. Steelhead salmon populations have fallen to less than 10% of their historic population size! In the game, players sponsor an actual steelhead that has been tagged with a tracking device and is trying to make its journey from river to ocean.

Congratulations to Louise Dube’ for winning the People’s Voice Award in the Diane von Furstenberg Awards! Louise, Executive Director of iCivics, will receive $50,000 to further the excellent work of her non-profit.

Women in Games has launched a new Ambassador program aimed at boosting diversity in the games industry. Backed by Google’s Women Techmakers, the initiative seeks to double the number of women working in games over the next decade.

The University of California, Irvine has launched the Connected Learning Lab, a new interdisciplinary hub dedicated to researching equitable learner-centered edtech innovation. Lead researchers include friends of the newsletter Constance Steinkuehler, Kurt Squire, and Mimi Ito!

Legends of Learning is a website designed for schools where teachers can find and rate educational games. Founder Vadim Polikov calls it “Spotify for learning games”. Try it out! Access is free for the first few months and then will convert to a per-student fee.

Filament Games has launched a new e-book, Implementing and Evaluating your District Game-based Learning Program. Looking to jumpstart game-based learning at your school? Check it out!

Coding and Making

Ignite My FutureDiscovery Education and Tata Consultancy Services have teamed up to launch Ignite My Future in School, a new initiative to train 20,000 teachers to integrate computer science into other subjects. Teachers will be given professional development content that aligns with their curriculum in core subjects such as English, mathematics, social studies, and the arts.

Eli Sheldon, Computational Thinking Program Manager at Excel Public Charter School, discusses how computational thinking applies to a number of other school subjects: from music to basketball to physics to biology!

Computer Science Professional Development Week is coming July 16-21! With funding from Infosys Foundation USA, NSF, NCWIT, and CSTA, Colorado School of Mines will host week-long workshops on AP Computer Science A, AP CS Principles, Exploring Computer Science, Bootstrap, and Counselors for Computing. Teachers and counselors who participate will receive full scholarships!

Nitasha Manchanda, writer of The Innovative Parent, shares her love for the education innovation pursued by Mitch Resnick and the “Lifelong Kindergarten” group at MIT. This thoughtful piece will get you excited about making learning fun and creative – for all ages.

EdWeek’s Beth Holland advocates for having young students play with technology in order to learn skills more effectively, as opposed to enforcing a standard curriculum and traditional assessments. In this short piece, the writer reflects on a SXSW panel conversation she had with Krishna Vedati, CEO of Tynker, plus Meenoo Rami of Minecraft Education and Mo Fong of Google.

Have you tried GameSalad recently? It’s an incredibly accessible game creation tool that launched a few years ago and is a lot of fun to play with! The folks from GameSalad reached out to let us know that they’ve developed a game development curriculum that aligns with the new ISTE standards. Check out this video to learn more!


Cabinet of CuriositiesCabinet of Curiosities (Web) – Philippe Cousteau Jr and EarthEcho International launched this lovely site at the National Science Teachers Association conference. Explore the links from the cabinet to learn about STEM-related fields through video interviews of professionals! Video.

Club Penguin Island (iOS, Android) – The ever-popular Club Penguin has closed up on the web and moved to mobile! Club Penguin Island is a subscription app where kids can interact with each other and play games using penguin avatars. Video.

Google Maps Ms. Pac-Man (iOS, Android) – This is a little difficult to link to, but if you haven’t checked your Google Maps on mobile the past few days, go look at it! Quickly, before this great Ms. Pac-Man game for April Fools’ Day disappears! Video.

ResistJam games (Many) – Did you try any of the great games created at the ResistJam? Kotaku has a few suggestions if you don’t want to randomly click through the 220 games. Here’s a video of “The Cat in the Hijab”.


DeLoura GDC AwardGame Developers Conference Ambassador Award – I was very honored to receive the Ambassador Award at GDC this year! I took advantage of the time on stage to thank my fellow White House OSTP alums Constance Steinkuehler and Erik Martin, and of course the Federal Games Guild. After coming off the stage, the great folks from Shacknews grabbed me for some questions about STEM education; I was still a little hopped up on adrenaline. You’ll notice. 🙂

#MakeWhatsNext: Change the Odds – Microsoft has kicked off a #MakeWhatsNext campaign focusing on encouraging girls to pursue STEM careers. Visit this site to learn more.

Learning to code with toys – CNBC interviewed the CEOs of Osmo and Wonder Workshop about their impressive toys which teach kids how to code.

Cozmo in #Cozmoments: First Easter – We are big fans of cute robots here at Level Up, and Cozmo is one of the cutest. Check out his new fist bump move. Probably shouldn’t have tried it out on an Easter Egg. Oops.

Oscilloscope Pong – This impressive electronics project showcases what you can do with an oscilloscope and a lot of discrete components. Check out this impressive version of Pong built without a single integrated circuit. Yowsa. More info.

Modified DIY robotics kit can fill test tubes – Students at Stanford used Lego Mindstorms to build a liquid-handling robot for biology experiments. Learn more in their paper published on PLOS Biology.


NSTA National Conference – Annual conference for the National Science Teachers Association. Los Angeles, CA. March 30-April 2.
Arctic Climate Game Jam! – Multi-site game jam using scientific data to create games about climate change in the Arctic. April 21-30.
Scratch Day – A month of global events celebrating the 10th anniversary of Scratch! Worldwide. May.
GamesBeat Summit – Game industry execs discuss the latest trends and opportunities. Berkeley, CA. May 1-2.
Construct3D – National conference on 3D printing in education. Durham, NC. May 5-7.
E3 Expo – Game industry’s largest U.S. event, showcasing upcoming games and technology. Los Angeles, CA. June 13-15.


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