January 20 2017 edition

Thanks to Sheri Rubin and Russ Shilling for contributions to this issue! You can send us your news and favorites by replying back to this newsletter or using the contact information shown at the bottom.

Games and Education

Games and the White HouseThanks to Brian Crecente at Polygon, who rang up Erik Martin and I to chat about our experiences working on games for impact at the White House (h/t Asi Burak!) Brian adeptly turned our conversation into an article highlighting games and the Obama administration.

The Woodrow Wilson Center is seeking a Program Associate to work on Serious Games. You may not be familiar with the Wilson Center but you’ve probably played their games, Budget Hero and The Fiscal Ship.

The US Department of Education’s James Collins writes about trends in game-based education in a piece on Medium. Instead of teams of developers building education products, Collins sees teams of educators and students working together to find ways to use existing products, building up communities of practice in the process.

Games for Change is holding an Industry Circle Q&A with Schell Games on January 31. Sign up for the YouTube stream here.

Stefanie Fogel presents the seven educational games every game developer should study, on Gamasutra. Number one is our friend DragonBox Algebra!

A report from the University of Chicago Early Childhood STEM Working Group presents recommendations on cultivating young students’ interest in STEM. The group recommends increased pre-service training for early-childhood teachers, standards that are aligned with K-12, and development of more classroom resources that are appropriate for early childhood.

HTC pledged $10 million in funding to help VR developers build immersive experiences that are aligned with the United Nations Sustainable Development Goals. Learn more about their VR for Impact initiative here.

EdWeek highlighted ten important pieces of digital education research from the past year that you may have missed. Read the latest on maker education, one-to-one computing, and the impact of relying on mobile Internet access to do homework.

Coding and Making

Girls Make Games White HouseRuthe Farmer summed up the year of progress on Computer Science for All, in a blog post on the White House website late last year. Includes this great Girls Make Games workshop that took place at the White House!

Arkansas and Facebook have teamed up to launch the Techstart Partnership, a program designed to excite Arkansas students about computer science. Through the program, Facebook will donate 500 virtual reality kits to schools, educational co-ops, and STEM education centers.

At CES, Lego announced Lego Boost, a series of toy robots designed to help kids learn how to code. Boost is designed for younger kids than Lego Mindstorms, to encourage freeform play and tinkering.

The new Makey Makey Labz Beta site is a great place to go to find simple projects you can build with your Makey Makey. You can also upload your own creations to share with others!

So you want to build a new makerspace at your school. Great! Now what should you buy? Laura Fleming, a New Jersey educator, presents a five-step framework to help you select the right products.

The Nairobi Play Project is a game design and computer programming initiative that equips urban refugees and Kenyan youth with technical skills. The program uses Scratch, Makey Makey, and Empathy Toys to strengthen participants’ computational thinking abilities.

Rich Klein, a web developer, decided he was going to teach his seven year old how to code. Follow his adventures in this amusing article that discusses their efforts at using a few common coding tools. He also does a great job at trying to describe common programming concepts in a more accessible manner.


Young Meteorologist ProgramYoung Meteorologist Program (Web) – Learn about extreme weather and how to stay safe, by playing through challenges based on five types of severe weather. Video.

RollerCoaster Tycoon Classic (iOS, Android) – Your favorite parts of the original RollerCoaster Tycoon and RollerCoaster Tycoon 2 are now available as a new experience on mobile. Video.

Radio Garden (Web) – Explore the radio stations of the world, live! Fly around the Google Earth-inspired interface and discover live radio programming from around the globe. Video.

Crashlands (iOS, Android, PC, Mac) – Play as Flux Dabes, a galactic delivery truck driver who has crashlanded on a planet and must find all the parts of her ship while avoiding the hungry locals. This top-view action-adventure game is reminiscent of Don’t Starve, but with an entertaining story line and quest system. So much fun! Video.

Math Games (Web) – Looking for some good Common Core-aligned math games? Well check out Math Games! Yes, with a name like that I’m sure you’re immediately hesitant and thinking it’s a site full of ads and malware like half of the Internet. But this site actually sits on many “top educational game site” lists for 2016 and has fun games, standards alignment, and info for parents and teachers. Give it a try!


White House VR TourPresident Obama tours “The People’s House” in VR – Oculus and Felix & Paul Studios have teamed up to bring you a tour of the White House in 360-degree VR video. Narrated by the former President and First Lady, this eight minute preview of The People’s House will give you an intimate perspective of the White House through historic events that have occurred there.

ED Games Expo 2016 recap by Classcraft – In December the US Department of Education held ED Games Expo 2016 in Washington DC, an event highlighting learning games built by over 30 companies. Did you miss it? Don’t worry, Classcraft walked the show and interviewed a number of the attendees about their games. Check it out!

Susanna Pollack on Games for Change – Salon interviewed Susanna Pollack, president of Games for Change, on how games can be a positive force for social change: teaching social skills, educating about topics like history, and even improving empathy.

History Respawned: Civilization VI – John Harney, Assistant Professor of Asian History at Centre College, talks with Dr. Tonio Andrade about Civilization VI and how the game reflects broader issues in history.

Virtual reality and the museum experience – At Berlin’s natural history museum, visitors can now watch the skeleton of a brachiosaurus come to life. Berlin’s museum is just one of a number of museums now beginning to explore the power of VR to educate, engage, and delight visitors.


Global Game Jam – The world’s largest weekend game jam, at hundreds of sites around the world! January 20-22.
Bett – Massive annual trade show showcasing the use of technology in education. London, UK. January 25-28.
Kidscreen Summit – Exploring new horizons in kids entertainment. Miami, FL. February 13-16.
DICE Summit – The game industry’s annual executive leadership summit. Las Vegas, NV. February 21-23.
Game Developers Conference ‐ The biggest conference to attend for game developers! San Francisco, CA. February 27-March 3.


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