August 5 2016 edition

Thanks to Jen Helms, Ed Metz, 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

Seymour PapertSeymour Papert, creator of the Logo programming language and instigator of the “Constructionism” philosophy of education, passed away last week. The New York Times published a wonderful summary of his life, and I also highly recommend going to Idit Harel’s “Playful World” article on EdSurge for a more personal look. You can find a great 2013 tribute video on YouTube, or go directly to Papert himself in a vintage MIT video that will bring a smile to your face.

Can games be part of the suite of next-generation student assessment tools for schools? The White House writes about a handful of assessment-focused games and apps receiving funding from the US Dept of ED’s SBIR program. Are you working on an assessment project? The Enhanced Assessments Grants competition has $9 million in funding for states with thoughtful approaches to assessment that also aim to reduce the testing burden.

John Krajewski, CEO of Strange Loop Games (makers of Eco), examines Pokemon Go and considers it as an example of augmenting our physical world via a digital connection. How can we utilize digital augmentation in modern classrooms?

Digital Promise and Carnegie Mellon University teamed up with school districts and ed-tech developers to find ways to improve the ed-tech product pilot process. Key insights from the full report include finding a research partner and providing opportunities for feedback and learning. Definitely worth a read!

We find ourselves increasingly discussing project-based learning (PBL) in this newsletter. Finland recently redesigned its highly-acclaimed school system to make PBL a vital component. EdSurge explores a few of the challenges in implementing PBL at your school.

Galxyz and Popular Science have teamed up to launch a co-branded microsite featuring Galxyz’s science adventure game Blue Apprentice (formerly just called “Galxyz”). Students learn physical science and life science concepts as they explore several planets in the game’s story mode.

Celia Hodent, Director of User Experience at Epic Games, advocates for a focus on user experience in games for education in this thoughtful piece on Gamasutra.

Amazon has launched a new tool that makes it easier to create voice-based adventure games for their Alexa platform. Sounds like a potentially interesting tool for students learning game development!

Here are a handful of interesting opportunities for innovative educators and developers:


Coding and Making

Girls Make GamesGirls Make Games is a great summer program that encourages young girls to pursue their passion for making video games. CNBC talked with founder Laila Shabir and several game industry executives about the challenges of gender diversity.

Forbes also tackled the challenge of gender diversity in the tech industry, talking with Maria Klawe of Harvey Mudd College about perceptions and how to encourage a diverse student body in computer science and engineering. There are some good examples in this piece of diversity successes at Harvey Mudd, Dartmouth, Boston University, and Cal Poly.

What’s it like to start a makerspace in your school library? KQED MindShift talked with several librarians about their experiences: one at a high school and another at an elementary school.

Robots can be engaging tools that enable digital storytelling and encourage learning computer programming. But how do you integrate them into the classroom? These educators share some of their lessons learned.

Can AP CS Principles (CSP) be used as an introductory computer science course at colleges, in addition to being used as a solid AP course at high schools? Mark Guzdial shares his work to get CSP rolling at Georgia Tech. (Spoiler alert: They decided not to implement CSP.)

How can you teach introductory computer science concepts to kindergarteners? New York City schools are learning how to talk about programming using paper-based activities.

Are you working on something innovative that supports the White House’s Computer Science for All initiative? Let the White House know about it!

Curious to improve your coding skills through a little hacking on Raspberry Pi and Minecraft? Check out this free resource from MagPi magazine, “Hacking and Making in Minecraft”, which includes projects in both Python and Javascript.


GlicodeGlicode (iOS, Android) – Glico, maker of popular Japanese snackfood Pocky, has launched a coding app! Lay out Pocky, Bisuko, and Almond Peak as a sequence of instructions, then use your smartphone’s camera to capture an image of them to instruct the on-screen character through a course. Of course, then eat your source code. Mmmmm… codelicious! Video.

Mars Rover (iOS, Android, Web) – NASA’s Jet Propulsion Laboratory is enlisting you to help drive the Curiosity Mars Rover. Find water on the surface of Mars in this cute side scroller somewhat reminiscent of Moon Patrol. Video.

Google’s 2016 Doodle Fruit Games (iOS, Android) – Celebrate the Rio Olympics with Google by playing games with fruit in the Google mobile app! Video.

Verne: The Himalayas (Android) – Control a 500 foot tall Yeti and roam around the mountains in this Android app from Google. Utilizes 3D Google Maps imagery to teach you about the Himalayas. Video.


ADE Circuit ArcadeCircuit Arcade – Educators Patrick Dempsey and Rob Rambach share a project plan for students to build a cardboard arcade game with an electrical circuit in this excellent branching video and plan guide from Allen Distinguished Educators.

Loki Lego Launcher 2.0 – The Loki Lego Launcher girls are at it again, creating a new balloon build that went to 101,000 feet!

Most robots dancing simultaneously – At the Qingdao Beer Festival in Shandong, China, 1007 robots danced together to grab the Guinness World Record for simultaneous robot dancing.

SPACEDOCK – The Smithsonian National Air and Space Museum recently painstakingly refurbished the original Star Trek Enterprise NCC-1701 model for display.


RESPECT 2016 – Second meeting of IEEE community on equity and broadening participation in computing. Atlanta, GA. August 11-13.
GLS 12 – The annual Games+Learning+Society conference brings together game developers, researchers, and educators! Madison, WI. August 17-19.
Revolutionary Learning – Conference on inspiration and collaboration through games. New York, NY. August 17-19.
GameSoundCon – The leading conference on the art, technology, and business of game audio. Los Angeles, CA. September 27-28.
Digital Media and Learning – Linking scholars and practitioners together for a discussion of theory, study, policy, and practice. Irvine, CA. October 5-7.
Intentional Play Summit – A full-day event on using games for learning and motivation, at the Computer History Museum. Mountain View, CA. October 7.


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