July 22 2016 edition

Thanks to 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

Dept of Education IES LogoCongratulations to the US Department of Education’s SBIR program and these five grant recipients who were recently received awards. Strange Loop Games’ Eco won the Climate Change Challenge at Games for Change, and Electric Funstuff’s Mission US won Website Gold from the Parents’ Choice Awards and Best Web Game from the Webby Awards!

Another week, another batch of articles about Pokemon Go! This week we’ll just point you to this single article from Education Week which talks with Common Sense Media, James Gee, Steve Isaacs, and several others, analyzing the pros and cons of its potential for education application.

The American Academy of Pediatrics (AAP) updated its policy statement about the effects of “virtual violence” on children. Not a lot new here. Start with Chris Ferguson’s response on the Huffington Post. For more information read Chapter 11 of Greg Toppo’s excellent book The Game Believes in You. Want to dive in deeper? Go read the wonderful Grand Theft Childhood.

Filament Games released an eBook on how to teach with games, featuring expert insight from a number of educators. The articles and lessons offer practical advice to get you started with game-based learning.

Motherboard offers an in-depth article on Minecraft: Education Edition, talking with Microsoft, TeacherGaming, and educators about uses for the game in the classroom.

A paper published in the journal Infant and Child Development showed that in a familiar nursery environment significant sex differences in toy preferences were evident as young as 9 months of age. Wow!

Coding and Making

Grush LogoCongratulations to Grush, the gamified toothbrush for kids! We’ve had our fun poking at this concept a few times, but Grush recently won the $1 million grand prize on America’s Greatest Makers. I find myself using an Oral-B electric toothbrush daily which came with a display that includes a timer, and gives stars and a smiley face as reward for brushing long enough. And I love it. So… congratulations, Grush!

Facebook announced its annual employee diversity statistics. Thank you Facebook for continuing to track and share your numbers each year! We mentioned last week that FB is donating $15 million to Code.org to apply toward improving computer science and engineering education among traditionally underrepresented populations. This is a fantastic start, and does beg the question as to how we can systemically solve this problem and do it in a way that moves toward sustainability without external funding streams. Do you have ideas? Share them with us! NPR called out the entire tech industry on its diversity problem and made a few suggestions.

Non-profit coalition 100Kin10 is launching a $2 million funding competition for moonshot ideas that help support teachers in creating active STEM learning environments for grades P-3. Official applications for the Early Childhood STEM grant will be launched in September.

How can makerspaces in schools be useful for all students, including those with special needs as well as English-language learners? Laura Fleming and Billy Krakower make five suggestions in this Edutopia piece.

Do you remember when the $9 C.H.I.P. launched about a month back? This low-cost computer launched alongside the PocketChip, a dock with keyboard, touchscreen and battery that turns the C.H.I.P. into a tiny portable Linux machine. TheVerge reviews the PocketChip and its Pico-8 game development environment.


GoldieBlox Coding AppGoldieBlox: Adventures in Coding (iOS) – GoldieBlox launched a coding app for young girls! Help Goldie Blox and Ruby Rails deliver cupcakes to their friends, with puzzles and mini-games. Video.

Dots & Co (iOS, Android) – A meditative puzzle game, sequel to Dots… and Two Dots! If you enjoyed those great games, you’ll enjoy Dots & Co. If you haven’t played those games, what are you waiting for? Video.


Games for ChangeRethinking Assessment: Mastery Doesn’t Require a Bubble Sheet – Games for Change has begun posting videos of the presentations from its annual Summit, which took place in late June. We’ll begin including a few each week! In this panel, James Collins from the US Department of Education leads a discussion around student assessment, with Kristen DiCerbo of Pearson, John Krajewski of Strange Loop Games, and Abby Speight of Zynga.org.

Ben Heck’s Nintendo-Playstation Prototype Pt 1 Teardown – Hacker/Maker Ben Heck gets his hands on the recently discovered SNES/PlayStation prototype, a modified SNES with CDROM drive that many say was the forerunner to the official Sony PlayStation. In this video Ben delicately takes the machine apart to determine how it works. In Part 2, Ben tries to get the machine working again!

Introducing the Nintendo Entertainment System – Nintendo has announced the NES Classic Edition, a miniature version of the original NES with 30 classic games built in. Love this 80’s throwback video. Now you’re playing with power!


Serious Play Conference – Leadership conference for people who create serious game programs. Chapel Hill, NC. July 26-28.
EduGaming 2016 – Helping educators learn to use game-based learning in the classroom. Schnecksville, PA. August 1-2.
DiGRA / Foundations of Digital Games – Research conference for game academics and educators. Dundee, Scotland. August 1-6.
Scratch@MIT 2016 – Celebrating the Scratch community through hands-on workshops and collaboration. Cambridge, MA. August 4-6.
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.
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.


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