April 29 2016 edition

Thanks to Ben Sawyer 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

The Fiscal ShipThe Woodrow Wilson Center has teamed up with the Brookings Institution, 1st Playable Productions, and Digitalmill to produce an update to their classic game Budget Hero. The new game, The Fiscal Ship, launched last week and challenges you to put the federal budget on a sustainable course while also accomplishing your chosen government priorities.

Minecraft for Samsung Gear VR launched last week and has an interesting approach to keep you from getting motion sick. The game starts you out in a virtual living room where you are playing Minecraft on the TV and allows you to enter the world when you feel comfortable. Give it a try if you own a Gear VR and let us know what you think!

Making your learning games work well for low-income children is smart business, according to members of a discussion at last week’s ASU GSV Summit. Research funded by the Susan Crown Exchange and conducted by the Joan Ganz Cooney Center finds benefit in learning games that are easily translatable, work on a variety of devices, and operate well in low-bandwidth environments.

Did you know that the 4-H offers classes on robotics and rocketry? Learn more about the youth program’s STEM focus, which had roots in agriculture and now covers everything from public speaking to environmental science!

Olivia Thomas was one of the winners of the National STEM Video Game Challenge this past year. Her game Colorless was created using Gamestar Mechanic, a popular game design learning tool. Read about her experience showing the game at the White House Science Fair, then play the game at the link below!

Project-based learning is a popular topic of conversation among educators, but few schools are committed to using it. Peter Glenn, co-founder of CrowdSchool, suggests four actions to help get PBL into the classroom.

Is it better to allow smartphone use in the classroom, or not? The Hechinger Report tackles the topic with a long and interesting piece: could greater use of smartphones improve learning?

Coding and Making

CS Education CoalitionGovernors, business leaders, education officials, and non-profits in the U.S. launched a petition to ask Congress to support K-12 computer science education. The Computer Science Education Coalition is asking Congress for a $250 million investment, and signatories of the letter announced $48 million in new private contributions.

An employment survey in the UK has highlighted gender diversity challenges in the game industry there, showing just 19% of game industry employees are women. It’s hard to find similar data for the US, but a recent IGDA developer satisfaction survey shows just 22% of responders are female, so this is certainly not a problem isolated to just the UK.

You may have heard that Prince passed away last week – but did you know he was a driving force behind the #YesWeCode initiative? Van Jones talked about his inspiration.

Colleges and universities in Washington State are struggling to keep up with the sudden increase in computer science degree applicants. It’s a great problem to have, to be sure!

Playables

PBS KIDS GamesPBS KIDS Games (iOS, Android) – Play free learning games with your favorite PBS KIDS characters! Released last week, this new app offers games that cover a variety of educational topics for kids age 2 to 8.

The Fiscal Ship (Web) – Try your hand at balancing the federal budget while also achieving the goals you set out for your presidency. It’s the next generation of Budget Hero! Video.

Infinite Arcade (iOS) – This latest app from Tinybop makes it easy for you to create and play your own games, through a simple, friendly interface. Video.

Colorless (Web) – This puzzle game about colors was highlighted at the White House Science Fair and one of the winners of the National STEM Video Game Challenge. Give it a try!

Videos

Adam Savage WH Science FairAdam Savage Visits the White House Science Fair – Adam Savage of Tested and MythBusters attended the recent White House Science Fair and highlights some of the great exhibits and inventors he found there.

Home Sweet Home – Have you ever wished for more realistic physics in Minecraft? This video might make you change your mind!

Atari Computer Enthusiasts Support Videos, Part 1 – Chris Crawford, original creator of the Computer Game Developers Conference, recorded these three dynamic videos that explain the Atari 400/800 computer hardware. Impressive (and funny) technology demonstrations! Part 2. Part 3.

History Respawned: 1979 Revolution Black Friday – A nice discussion of the historical issues surrounding this recent game about the Iranian Revolution.

The Great Wall of Logitech G – Logitech’s latest keyboards have individually addressable color LEDs for each key. So, why not make a screen out of them?

Code.org CS Fundamentals Unplugged – Have you seen this page of great unplugged computer science activities? Similar to csunplugged.com but perhaps even more thorough. Great stuff!

Events

GamesBeat Summit – Gaming execs gather to discuss the latest trends and growth opportunities. Sausalito, CA. May 3-4.
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.
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.

Resources

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