January 29 2016 edition

Thanks to Timothy Loew, Scott Nicholson, Russ Shilling, Greg Toppo, and Mitch Weisburgh for contributions to this issue! Please forward us your news and favorites to the contact information shown at the bottom.

We’re awfully excited about President Obama’s Computer Science For All initiative that was announced yesterday, January 30. Expect detailed coverage of it next week!

Games

Fun AcademyRovio, creator of popular franchise Angry Birds, has spun off its education work to a new company which will be led by Rovio’s former VP Education, Sanna Lukander. Fun Academy will focus on fun learning, and has licensed the Angry Birds brand. Astute readers will recall that another group spun out from Rovio to focus on education a few months back, with Lauri Jarvilehto leading as CEO.

Sande Chen is back with her fourth article in an excellent series on GamesAndLearning.org. In “Facing Edutainment’s Dark Legacy”, Sande dives into the challenges faced by developers in striving for a balance between education and entertainment in modern learning games.

A neuroscience study from the University of Bristol has found one mechanism by which games help improve learning. In their research they found that utilizing progressive scoring systems can help quiet down parts of the brain associated with inattentiveness.

Muzzy Lane Software recently released a report on game-based learning backed by funding from the Gates Foundation. The study highlights the impact game-based learning can have on nontraditional students such as adults and English as a second language learners.

Breakout EDU BoxHave you heard of BreakoutEDU? It’s a physical locked puzzle box that you and your team are working to break into, and along the way you’re learning through puzzles and games. Laurier Brantford, a satellite campus of Wilfrid Laurier University, recently held a BreakoutEDU Game Jam. Check out this intro video to the jam to learn more, or this video introducing BreakoutEDU.

The Awesome Games Done Quick speedrunning marathon raised $1.2 million for the Prevent Cancer Foundation this year. Wow!

We’re hesitant with this new research, examining a possible relationship between playing video games and the capability of acting on suicidal thoughts. But you should know that it’s out there and can draw your own conclusions without me editorializing.

In the ongoing evolution of gamified toothbrushing, Kolibree showed off its latest connected toothbrush at CES. Of course you should check it out! It includes a game based on Ubisoft’s popular Raving Rabbids franchise. Thanks to Dean Takahashi at VentureBeat for humoring us and our fascination with these products.

Mitch Weisburgh connected up with modern learning educator Marianne Malmstrom in an interview for EdWeek recently, touching on the use of games for education and a variety of great games you should check out.

Coding and Making

#BCTechBritish Columbia announced plans to bring coding into the school curriculum for all students kindergarten to grade 12. The new curriculum will be introduced over the next three years with a new “applied design, skills and technologies” component to encourage problem solving and creative thinking.

Congratulations to Tracy Fullerton and the USC Game Innovation Lab, highlighted in a Los Angeles Times piece where they announced that women now outnumber men in their video game design graduate program. I can’t wait to see the games that result!

Barbie Game DeveloperMattel announced that it will be launching a Game Developer Barbie doll this summer. It announced a lot of other changes too. But hey – game developer! Great!

The National STEM Collaborative is a new consortium of 12 higher education institutions and 15 non-profit partners to scale research-based best practices for increasing women of color in STEM.

MathAndCoding.org is a site created by high school students, dedicated to hands on coding classes for other students – taught by students! What a great idea. Read about the growth of this movement in this article on Business Insider.

We’ve been enjoying following the experiences of Kevin Jarrett, a middle school teacher in New Jersey building a maker program from the ground up. In his latest post on Edutopia, Kevin talks of a few lessons learned, from the problems of silos to challenges with particular pieces of technology.

Playables

BloxelsBloxels – Hey! This isn’t a downloadable game! Wait, it kind of is. It’s definitely a “playable”. Pixel Press, maker of Floors, has created this physical game plus app that allows you to build game levels and easily bring them into your iPad. Puzzled? Then go check it out! Video.

Videos

Global Game JamGlobal Game Jam 2016 Livestream – The Global Game Jam is wrapping up at this very moment – the livestream is running right now on Twitch! Check out what amazing games have been created around the world in the past 48 hours.

Smart Girls Build with The Sims 4: Dance – Amy Poehler’s Smart Girls has teamed up with Electronic Arts to show off girls making amazing things with the developers of The Sims 4.

Great Detective Pikachu – Readers of this newsletter know of our weakness for Pikachu; this video, however, was a stumper. Never would have guessed Pikachu would have THIS voice.

Liquid Ping Pong in Space – Scott Kelly is celebrating his 300th day on the space station with a game of hydrophobic ping pong.

Anyone Can Quantum – Paul Rudd faces off against Stephen Hawking in a game of Quantum Chess, narrated by Keanu Reeves.

Conferences

Global Game Jam – The world’s largest simultaneous weekend game jam. Everywhere. January 29-31.
EduCon 2.8 – Education innovation un-conference. Philadelphia, PA. 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.
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.

Resources

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