December 4 2015 edition

Thank you to the wonderful people who helped make this issue possible, including Mary Beth DeLoura, Karin Kuo, Ed Metz, Mike Mika, Deena Minwalla, Randy Paris, and Russell Shilling! Please forward us your news and favorites to the contact information shown at the bottom.

Some weeks, life gets in the way of the Level Up Report! This week is Computer Science Education Week and I’m a little bit crazy. As a result this report is a little short this week, but some report is better than no report! πŸ™‚

We were sad to learn that friend of the newsletter Richard Culatta is leaving his post as Director of the Office of Educational Technology at the U.S. Department of Education. Richard has been a fantastic advocate of games for learning and we’ll miss his enthusiasm at Dept of ED!


Are you near Washington DC? If so, you should attend the ED Games Expo, a showcase of 30 small business who developed games for learning with SBIR funding support. It’s this Wednesday, December 9, sponsored by the Entertainment Software Association and 1776. Hit the YouTube playlist to see a few of the games!

Congratulations to the winners of the 2015 Serious Games Showcase & Challenge! You can find the full list of finalists here.

Co.lab is seeking applications for its 5th cohort. The educational games accelerator can count great companies like codeSpark, Pixowl, and Kidaptive among its graduates. Perhaps your company will be next!

Feedback on the EdSimChallenge from the U.S. Department of Education is due December 9. What’s the EdSimChallenge you ask? Quick, read about it here!

The White House announced the winners of the National Climate Game Jam, which took place last October. The jam was focused on creating tools to help people better understand the effects of a changing climate, using real climate data. What a great idea!

Yale has announced the launch of a new Center for Health & Learning Games, to be led by Dr. Lynn Fiellin! You may remember the Yale game on risky sexual behavior, PlayForward: Elm City Stories.

Enlearn, Zoran Popovic’s Seattle-based nonprofit, received a $3 million grant from the Gates Foundation to further its work on adaptive digital platforms for the classroom. Zoran is also Director of the Center for Game Science at the University of Washington.

The New York Times covered Project: EVO, the attention-focusing game from Akili Interactive Labs and Adam Gazzaley’s lab at UC San Francisco. The teams intend to pursue FDA approval for physicians to prescribe the game to treat A.D.H.D.

GamesAndLearning did a nice piece on a number of social-emotional learning (SEL) games, including some being created by students of DigiPen’s Game Design program.

Can digital quests be used in the classroom to motivate students to pay closer attention and ultimately improve learning? KQED Mind/Shift covers a number of fascinating efforts by educators.

Do you wonder what kids are really learning when they play Minecraft? CBC dived in to the phenomenon to try and clear the air for parents. (Note: the editor of this newsletter is currently working on a contract with Microsoft!)

Wow, so much good game news this time around. You deserve a reward for reading this far. Check out these four great learning games highlighted by KQED Mind/Shift!

Coding and Making

Next week is Computer Science Education Week! I hope you’ve got an hour scheduled in to do an Hour of Code or help someone else do one. Edutopia talked about why this is important and pointed to some great resources.

The White House is reissuing its call for commitments around computer science education, and asks you to nominate remarkable individuals you know to be recognized as a Computer Science Education Champion of Change.

The Raspberry Pi Zero launchedand immediately sold out! The tiny $5 computer runs at 1GHz and has 512MB of memory. Of course you’ll need a monitor, keyboard, and mouse to take full advantage of it. Still… it’s amazing!

PBS KIDS teamed up with the MIT Media Lab and Tufts University to launch the PBS KIDS ScratchJr app, a coding app for kids. The app helps children ages 5-8 learn coding skills as they create their own stories and games with familiar PBS KIDS characters!

DIY computer company Kano is shipping a build-your-own-screen kit to join their current Raspberry Pi-based computer kit. The 10.1-inch HD display kit will cost $129.

The Cartoon Network has teamed up with Scratch to launch a series of free coding tutorials for kids, using its new series We Bare Bears. CN and Scratch have also created facilitator guides for educators and after-school providers to accompany the site.

Mattel has partnered with Tynker on a series of online coding courses based on characters and content from Hot Wheels and Monster High, for children in grades three and up.

Carnegie Mellon University and Disney Research have teamed up on research that enables casual users to customize and create 3D printable robots. Video.

Computational thinking skills are useful in many fields, not just computer science. How might we encourage learning and utilizing these skills in EVERY course? The Hechinger Report posted about the work being done at South Fayette Intermediate School in Pennsylvania.

EdSurge dived into the challenges girls face in learning and teaching computer science, in a resource-filled piece with accompanying podcast.

CODE2040 launched a research report on the experiences of minorities in tech, and the barriers to improving diversity at tech companies.

The BBC talked with Audrey Jones, co-founder of Code Crew, an organization running coding classes and camps for under-privileged children, about the challenges African-American girls interested in tech face in the Memphis area.

What are the top twenty tools you should have if you want to run a makerspace in a middle school? Learn from the experiences of Kevin Jarrett, educator in Northfield, New Jersey.


Computer Science Education Week – Inspiring people to learn the joys of coding. Everywhere. December 7-13.
Global Game Jam – The world’s largest simultaneous weekend game jam. Everywhere. January 29-31.
Kidscreen Summit – The kids entertainment industry’s most important annual event. Miami, FL. February 8-11.
DICE Summit – The game industry’s annual executive leadership summit. Las Vegas, NV. February 16-18.


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Send your news, games, videos, and great article links to mark@levelupreport.comΒ for inclusion in the report!

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