March 11 2016 edition

Thanks to Gaurav Mathur, Stephanie Santoso, Russ Shilling, and Anneleen Vaandrager for sending contributions to this issue! Please forward us your news and favorites to the contact information shown at the bottom.


InterludeInterlude and Games for Change have partnered on a competition for game designers and filmmakers to highlight the challenge of diversity. Utilizing Treehouse, Interlude’s self-authoring platform, creators will develop an interactive story pilot. Winners will receive funds to develop follow-on episodes and be highlighted at the Games and Media Summit.

Re/Code covers game developer Toca Boca, their unusual business model, and the open-ended play typical of their games. The writer pokes a little bit of fun at the business model, but so far it seems to be working well for Toca Boca!

New research from Columbia University published in the journal Social Psychiatry and Psychiatric Epidemiology concludes that kids who play games five or more hours a week do better in school and suffer no emotional health problems. See GamesAndLearning’s article for more details on this research.

Ariel Marcy, a biology PhD student at the University of Queensland, combines her loves of evolutionary biology and building games to produce educational science games that can engage students.

How can an educator utilize Minecraft to teach a science lesson on circuits? Neil Jarrett writes an interesting blog post about the process he uses in his Science class and includes a video to make the concept a little clearer. (Note to the reader: I’m doing some contracting work with Microsoft at the moment but not related to this great work!)

The Atlantic interviews Alex Handy, founder and director of Oakland’s Museum of Art and Digital Entertainment, and is heartened by the museum’s friendly, neighborhoody approach.

Coding and Making

CS for Rhode IslandCongratulations to Rhode Island, launching a comprehensive program to bring computer science to every public school by December 2017! Governor Gina Raimondo announced the program last week, noting that currently only 1% of Rhode Island high school students are enrolled in a computer science course.

The National Week of Making is coming! The White House blog announced the 2016 National Week of Making will be held June 17-23, and the National Maker Faire on June 18-19 in Washington DC. This Medium post by Stephanie Santoso, Sherry Lassiter and Dale Dougherty highlights some of the amazing Makers across the U.S. and around the world. The US Department of Education is launching the Career and Technical Education Makeover Challenge to encourage creation of more maker spaces in high schools. Digital Promise and Maker Ed are launching the Maker Promise, a pledge for K-12 school leaders to dedicate resources to making. Wow! So much great Maker fun!

LittleBits announced the STEAM Student Set, a product aimed specifically for use in grades three through eight. The set comes with a six-hour online professional development course to support educators integrating STEAM into their classrooms. Great idea! Read EdSurge’s interview with CEO Ayah Bdeir.

Sony’s Global Education Division has announced KOOV, a Lego Mindstorms-like kit with translucent blocks and the ability to write code to control them. Japanese company Artec helped develop the product.

Marvel launched a new project to encourage young girls to explore their own potential in STEM fields. Girls age 15 to 18 submit video proposals for scientific ideas that can have global impact; finalists will visit Marvel Studios and one winner will have the opportunity for an internship.

Lorena Barba posted a thoughtful article to Medium entitled “Computational Thinking: I do not think it means what you think it means”. I think it’s an interesting article that will help you sharpen your own opinions, whether you agree with Lorena or not.

Research published by Oxford University Press in the journal Social Problems concludes that young white women are more likely to major in STEM fields when they come from high schools with higher proportions of female math and science teachers. An interesting read.

Digital PromiseThirty members of Digital Promise’s League of Innovative Schools have made commitments to President Obama’s CS For All initiative. Read about the variety of commitments from this innovative group, on website eSchoolNews.

This article came out while we were running around with our hair on fire the past few weeks, but it’s worth surfacing now. Grant Smith, recipient of the 2015 Digital Innovation in Learning (DIL) Administrator Trailblazer Award, highlights the current challenges for an elementary school coding curriculum. Includes links to tools and curriculum suggestions. Valuable info.

Website The 74 tackles the growth in maker-centered education, highlighting several innovative schools as well as the complex question of effectiveness.

Have you heard of New York City’s Academy of Software Engineering? It’s a CTE high school in the heart of Manhattan, with coding as its beating heart. EdSurge gives us more details about how the school works, and how it has evolved.


Blackbox GameBlackbox (iOS) – An innovative puzzle game which encourages you to think outside the box – or phone. Video.

meQuanics (Web) – Learn about programming quantum computers through an online puzzle game where you minimize quantum circuits. Works best in Firefox or Safari. Video.

Beat Zero (PC, Mac, iOS) – A game that teaches computer science through drumset puzzles. Video.


App LabApp Lab in the Classroom –’s App Lab is a web-based environment for students to make simple apps. Love the blocks-to-text pathway for learning programming.

International Women’s Day 2016: What are you going to make? – Celebrating women inventors. How many can you name?

Blocks & Brains: Early Learning Skills – Amy Shelton, Director of Research for the Johns Hopkins Center for Talented Youth, discusses how Legos and blocks are valuable as learning tools.


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.
Scratch Day – Global network of events celebrating the Scratch programming environment. Worldwide. May 14.
XTech 2016 – The Experiential Technology & NeuroGaming Conference and Expo. San Francisco, CA. May 17-18.
National Week of Making – A US-wide celebration of all things Maker, June 17-23, with the National Maker Faire in Washington DC, June 18-19.
Games for Change – The 13th annual conference for using games for change. New York, NY. June 23-24.


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