November 4 2016 edition

In this week’s newsletter: the release of Minecraft Education Edition, Dale Dougherty’s new Maker book, our favorite presidential election campaign games, and Sal Khan teaches Grover about the electoral/chicken college system!

Thanks to Emily Hallquist, Russ Shilling, and Meghan Ventura 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

Minecraft Education EditionMicrosoft released the much-anticipated Minecraft: Education Edition, for Windows 10 and Mac OS X. Launching with the game are a dedicated website for educators and a classroom mode companion app! Microsoft worked closely with many educators for this release, and it shows. Read this piece on the software and the recent MINECON from Diane Main, Director of Learning, Innovation and Design at The Harker School in San Jose, California. Congratulations to Team Minecraft!

Erik Martin, Policy Advisor at the White House Office of Science and Technology Policy, gave a talk at VRDC on funding opportunities for VR education projects. Included in the list is one of our favorites, the US Department of Education’s SBIR grants, as well as the announcement of the EdSim Challenge! The Challenge calls for immersive simulations that transfer academic, technical, and employability skills, with the grand prize winner receiving $430,000. Watch the video!

The Serious Games Showcase & Challenge has announced its 20 finalists! The games will be on show at I/ITSEC 2016 in Orlando, November 28 – December 2. Good luck to the finalists!

Epic Orphan is a stylized game about nuclear risk, where players explore the globe investigating and preventing a range of nuclear threats. In development as a collaboration between Games for Change, N Square, and Filament Games, Epic Orphan is currently seeking funding on Kickstarter.

Edutopia shares a way to incorporate play into the classroom, through Elizabeth Garcia’s Great Quest project. Garcia, founder of Discovery Day Academy, has students set sail for the New World on the Santa Maria in the morning, and then encourages learning by engaging students through their five senses and hands-on activities throughout the day.

Have you visited the National Videogame Museum yet? Me either! Take a virtual tour of the museum through the eyes of Sam Machkovech of Ars Technica as he explores this new and impressive museum in Frisco, Texas.

Coding and Making

Free to Make bookDale Dougherty, founder of MAKE magazine and father of the Maker movement, has launched a new book, “Free to Make: How the Maker Movement is Changing Our Schools, Our Jobs and Our Minds”. EdSurge’s CEO, Betsy Corcoran, reviews Dougherty’s book and details how the movement got its start.

A new study published this month in Psychological Bulletin analyzes the gender gap in computer science, engineering, and physics and compares it with the smaller gap found in biology, chemistry, and mathematics. The study cites a masculine culture, few early opportunities for experience, and gaps in self-efficacy as contributing factors to the larger gender gap.

Game engine company Unity has launched a license grant program for educators. Qualified institutions can acquire free Unity Education Edition licenses and educational programs to help teachers provide detailed in-class instructions and demonstrations.

Girls Make Games has announced that registration is now open for its U.S. Summer 2017 camps. The three week summer camps for girls take place at locations around the country, teaching girls game art, design, and programming skills!

STEM3 Academy is a STEM-focused school for students with special needs such as autism spectrum disorder, ADHD, and other social and learning differences. Educators work to find the passions and gifts of their students, and encourage them to excel. Check out the handful of videos on STEM3 Academy at


It’s the last week of the U.S. presidential election campaign! Here are a few of the games that we’ve enjoyed this campaign season.

Win the White HouseWin the White House (Web) – iCivics’ popular and free learning game, updated for the current presidential election season! It utilizes the latest web standards to present a more engaging and interactive experience. Video.

The Political Machine 2016 (PC) – Stardock updates their election game every four years. It’s fun to see the changes they make. Think of it as Risk… but a lot more complex. Video.

SwingVoter Go! (Web) – Jane McGonigal and teamed up to create a web game for the US election, using gamification techniques to encourage outreach to your friends who are voters in swing states. Give it a try!

Rigged (iOS, Android) – This puzzle game and documentary will teach you about the process of gerrymandering, adjusting district boundaries to give your political party an advantage. Rig all 50 states to win!

Merica Match (iOS, Android) – A game that combines match-three gameplay with the US Presidential election. Choose your favorite candidate and start campaigning! Video.

HillaryDonald Go (iOS, Android) – You knew someone would do it. It’s the location-based Pokemon Go crossed with the US presidential election!

The Voter Suppression Trail (Web) – This simple docu-game is designed to give you a sense of how challenging it can be to cast your vote in some regions. Do all citizens have the right to vote? Yes. But some regions certainly don’t make it easy, and it seems strategically designed. Dear America, we need to fix this.


Khan and Grover on Electoral Chicken CollegeSal teaches Grover about the electoral college – Sal Khan meets up with Grover to have a chat about the electoral/chicken college system. Bock!

Maker Education Forum 2016 – MAKE held a day of education conversations at this year’s World Maker Faire in New York. Follow this playlist to catch up on talks from Dale Dougherty, Trey Lathe, Carmen Farina, Albert Palacios, and others! Agenda.

Latest Unity ‘EditorVR’ Demonstrated – Unity showed off a virtual world editor at Unite 2016 that you operate from inside the world itself. Hello, future!

Meet Cubetto – Teach coding to young kids without the computer using this LOGO Turtle-inspired system. Looks like such a fun toy. Can I be a kid again?

Play-Doh Touch Shape to Life Studio – Play-Doh enters the toys-to-life market with this interesting toy/app hybrid. Use the Play-Doh molds to build characters, then scan them in on the app to play!


National Association for the Education of Young Children – The annual conference and expo is the largest gathering of early childhood professionals. Los Angeles, CA. November 2-5.
Barnes & Noble Mini Maker Faire – The Mini Maker Faire comes to B&N, with presentations and hands-on activities! Barnes & Noble stores. November 5-6.
Education in Games Summit – Empowering teachers with new ideas for the Digital Technologies Curriculum through games and play. Melbourne, Australia. November 7.
PRACTICE 2016 – Bringing the smartest minds in game design together for discussion, debate, and play. New York, NY. November 11-13.
Serious Games Showcase & Challenge – The big serious games competition at I/ITSEC. Orlando, FL. November 28 – December 1.
Computer Science Education Week – The annual week-long celebration of computer science education! Everywhere. December 5-11.
VRX 2016 – A VR technology conference and expo for senior leaders. San Francisco, CA. December 7-8.
ATD LearnNow – The Association for Talent Development is holding this design workshop on creating learning game prototypes. San Francisco, CA. December 8-9.
NY EdTech Week – An education innovation festival focusing on how edtech can drive advancements in learning. New York, NY. December 19-21.


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