February 5 2016 edition

Thanks to Timothy Loew, Ed Metz, Sheri Rubin, Russ Shilling, and Meghan Ventura for contributions to this issue! Please forward us your news and favorites to the contact information shown at the bottom.


Magic Leap announced the closing of its Series C funding round last week, a $793.5 million round that brings the company’s valuation up to $4.5 billion. Wow! Alibaba led the round, joining investors Google and Qualcomm.

VTech is purchasing LeapFrog Enterprises in a $72 million deal, combining two of the largest electronic learning toy companies.

Did you miss the Global Game Jam? Over one weekend, 36,000 jammers came together at 632 sites and created nearly 7000 game prototypes. Woah! Check out the summary, then go look at a few of the games!

The Entertainment Software Association Foundation is now accepting scholarship applications for students seeking video game design degrees. Thirty scholarships of $3000 each will be awarded.

Sesame Workshop is launching an internal team that will partner with VC firms to make investments in for-profit startups that support its mission. Sesame Ventures’ first project will be to manage a new $10 million Collab+Sesame Fund with Collaborative Fund.

The MassDiGI Game Challenge is a pitch competition and event to help aspiring game developers launch new games. It’s being held Feb 26 & 27 in Cambridge, Mass.

Norway and several partners have launched a competition to develop a mobile learning app for Syrian children who are out of school because of conflict. Can you develop an engaging smartphone app to help Syrian children learn to read? Visit the EduApp4Syria site.

Have you submitted your favorite impactful games to the Games for Change Festival awards yet? Deadline is coming up February 24!

Coding and Making

We were extremely excited about the announcement of President Obama’s “Computer Science for All” initiative last week. You can watch (and read) the address here. Check the White House blog or Fact Sheet for more details, which include a $4 billion funding allocation for states to increase access to K-12 CS by training teachers and building regional partnerships. The National Science Foundation has done so much great work promoting Computer Science education, and you can read about their work on this site. The U.S. Department of Education also has done fantastic work, read their post here. Now comes the hard part… getting it done! Fortunately it looks like games for education might play a significant part, read this Polygon piece with the White House’s Tom Kalil and Dept of Education’s Russ Shilling (thanks Russ!) for more details. Woo!!

The review period for the K-12 Computer Science Education framework has begun. The framework is an effort being led by ACM, CSTA, and Code.org to detail what all students should know and be able to do in computer science. Please visit the site and click the Review tab to dive in.

What can you do to empower more girls to learn coding? This Mashable article has eight great suggestions, with lots of links to organizations and resources.

Samaira Mehta is an 8-year-old girl who lives in Mountain View, California, and teaches workshops in coding. What?? That’s right, she’s the creator of board game Coderbunnyz, which teaches young kids about algorithms. You’ve really got to listen to EdSurge’s interview.

Ian Livingstone, former CEO of gaming company Eidos, and champion of computer science education in the UK, is opening two free schools to provide students with a comprehensive education rooted in science, technology, engineering, arts, and math.

How can we bring robotics to the classroom in a cost-effective way, and what would the benefits be? Julia Dweck shares her ideas in this thoughtful Edutopia piece.

Is knitting really like coding? It’s something I’d heard before. KQED’s Mind/Shift dived in and discovered a knitting shorthand which reads awfully familiar…


A delightful way to teach kids about computers – I really enjoyed this TED video of Linda Liukas, creator of Hello Ruby, talking about how to get kids excited about technology through play.

Building VR in VR with Unreal Engine 4 – A message from the future, creating 3D worlds on a 2D screen is crazy! Check out building 3D worlds in a virtual world using Unreal Engine 4, the HTC Vive, and Oculus motion controls. Can I haz?

How the Iowa Democratic Caucus Works, Featuring Legos – The Iowa Caucus has come and gone, but if you were as puzzled about this strange ritual of the United States’ elections as we were, you’ll find this video interesting. Proof positive that everything is made more fun with Legos.

Super Mario Maker: Someone made a computer – Building computers inside of other games is becoming a thing! This one is exceptionally creative, using Bob-ombs in Super Mario Maker to do some simple calculations.

Gillian Jacobs is a Computer Science Advocate – Gillian Jacobs is director of The Queen of Code, a movie about computing pioneer Grace Hopper; she describes her experience attending the White House’s Champions of Change for Computer Science Education event.


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.
SXSW Edu – Education sub-festival before SXSW Music / Film / Interactive. Austin, TX. March 7-10.
Game Developers Conference ‐ The largest game developer conference. San Francisco, CA. March 14-18.
NSTA National Conference – Annual conference for the National Science Teachers Association. Nashville, TN. March 31-April 3.
Games and Media Summit – A day-long event at the Tribeca Film Festival, from Games for Change! New York, NY. April 18.


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