October 2 2015 edition

Thanks to Russell Shilling, Meghan Ventura, and John Williamson for contributions to this issue! Please forward us your news and favorites to the contact information shown at the bottom.


Chromecast 2Google announced a handful of new devices last week including several Nexus phones, a Pixel tablet that runs Android, and new Chromecasts. For our money the Chromecast 2 seems most interesting, as it provides a way to cast games from your mobile phone to the big (bigger) screen.

Google also made press this past week with the launch of the Expeditions Pioneer Program, a pilot program that brings Google Cardboard VR kits to the classroom to enable classes to explore places around the world together – virtually! It looks like Microsoft is also exploring low-cost VR headsets with the Microsoft VR Kit, although it has only made an appearance in an ad in Russia so far. Stay tuned!

The American Academy of Pediatrics updated the 1999 “zero screen time guidelines” it is famous for with a broader policy encouraging diversity in play and monitoring of the content and amount of screen time that kids engage in.

KQED does a great job of covering some of the ways teachers are using Minecraft in the classroom, including examples of teaching history, foreign language, math, and science, and of course touching on MinecraftEDU.

The National Science Foundation has awarded a $2 million grant to the University of Maine and ThoughtSTEM to explore how Minecraft can influence a student’s interest in STEM careers.

Frustrated by terms like “Game-based Learning” and “Gamification”? This great infographic by Upside Learning on GamesAndLearning will help!

Jordan Shapiro published a conversation he had with Jane McGonigal about her new book SuperBetter and the value of a gameful mindset in life.

Divide by SheepHave you played Divide by Sheep yet? It’s a fun math-like experience using sheep, wolves, laser beams… duct tape… you should definitely try it. It isn’t overtly educational, but you’ll find yourself doing math in your head while playing! GamesAndLearning talked with its developer, Alex Nichiporchik.

Bandura Games was founded by developers from Israel, Palestine, and the United States, with the goal of creating games that encourage empathy and understanding between people around the world.

Mitch Weisburgh explored the best ways to find high-quality games for education in this four-page piece on K-12TechDecisions.com.

Paul Darvasi has published an Alternate Reality Game toolkit for classrooms on his blog Ludic Learning. Curious to create an ARG for your class? Let us know how it goes! Thanks to Pixelkin for the link.

Thanks to the Getting Smart blog for including the Level Up Report in its list of the top education blogs and blasts to follow! These 55 sites will keep you (and me) busy for a long time!

Coding and Making

Project SparkMicrosoft’s Project Spark is going from free-to-play to free-free, unlocking previously paid downloadable content to establish the tool as an incubation engine for people learning to create games. Give it a try!

littleBits’ CEO Ayah Bdeir wrote a great piece for EdSurge last week, timed to align with some of their 1-to-1 education products. It’s a personal reflection on the importance of Maker Ed in the classroom.

Curious about the world of coding competitions? Check out this long Bloomberg piece on the phenomenon, and some of the stars – from winners of the Facebook Hacker Cup to the International Olympiad in Informatics to the ACM International Collegiate Programming Contest.

Secret Coders is a graphic novel for kids, designed to teach the fundamentals of computer science. The 100-page comic starts with a robotic turtle and progresses from there!

USA Today featured a new piece on how to get kids to start coding, featuring The Foos, Kodable, Code.org’s Frozen, and Tynker. Looking for coding games for older kids? Check out this list, which includes CodeCombat, Code Hunt, CodinGame, Screeps, and FightCode. So many options! If YOU want to learn to code, I recommend starting with online sites like Codecademy and Khan Academy.

Windows 10 IoT Core Starter KitDid you hear about Microsoft’s Windows 10 IoT Core for Raspberry Pi? Adafruit has launched the Core Starter Kit, a package of interesting things to maximize your enjoyment of Windows 10 + Pi!

Curious how to use the Dot and Dash robots to get your kids interested in coding? CoolMomTech features an interesting piece that talks about one family’s experience.

Okay, we’ve gotten too serious here. What could be more fun for encouraging coding and making skills than building robots out of cardboard and sending them after each other? Video.

Australia is looking into bringing coding into the school curriculum. Now Code Club Australia is offering to give teachers a headstart by training 500 teachers over the next six months.

Youth Digital offers a Java course that teaches students how to create their own Minecraft servers. Server Design 1 utilizes videos, interactive lessons, and 24/7 tech support to keep students motivated.


The Earth by TinyBopThe Earth by TinyBop (iOS) – We are big fans of TinyBop, and this app is no exception. Learn about the Earth, and the forces that shape it, in this hands-on game with TinyBop’s unique graphic style. Video.

Amanda Cluett (web) – This clever mix of Cookie Clicker-style gameplay and historical narrative was developed for a history game jam. It’s an interesting mashup with a lot of potential. Give it a try!

My Singing Monsters: Dawn of Fire (iOS, Android) – They had me at the word “sequel”. My Singing Monsters 2 is a simple creature breeding game, but each monster has a unique singing voice that combines with the others in an oddly compelling way. A “magical monster music game”. Video.

Kubiko (iOS, Android) – This 3D pixel art puzzle game uses a familiar game mechanic, but something about spinning pieces of these cute characters to align them still feels new and fresh. Video.


BrainPOPG4C Industry Circle: Brain Pop – Sara Cornish of Games for Change led a conversation with BrainPOP about GameUp, a curated collection of online learning games from educational game publishers.

Living Computer Museum – UWTV visited Seattle’s impressive museum of historic computers. LCM prides itself on bringing old computers to life and making them accessible for everyone to try.

Kids React to A Dad Playing Minecraft – Simone de Rochefort at Pixelkin sat down with a Dad to teach him to play Minecraft. Then showed the resulting video to his kids. Behold the amusing results!

Minecraft: Story Mode Episode 1 Trailer – Telltale’s story-driven game about everyone’s favorite non-story-driven game Minecraft is coming soon! I can’t wait! This looks like so much fun.


SIEGE – Southern Interactive Entertainment and Game Expo. Atlanta, GA. October 9-11.

GamesBeat – Game industry leadership/business conference. Redwood City, CA. October 12-13.

Sandbox West – Exploring the landscape of interconnected play. Los Angeles, CA. October 12-13.

Grace Hopper Conference – A celebration of women in computing. Houston, TX. October 14-16.

IEEE Games Entertainment Media – How games transform edu and culture. Toronto, ON. October 14-16.

IndieCade 2015 – Largest celebration of independent games in the U.S. Los Angeles, CA. October 22-25.

GameCity Festival – Exploring and celebrating the art of videogames. Nottingham, UK. October 22-31.

Mozilla Festival – Forging the future of the web. London, UK. November 6-8.

Practice – High-quality game design conference for pro designers. New York, NY. November 13-15.


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Send your news, games, videos, and great article links to Mark DeLoura via mark@levelupreport.com for inclusion in the report!

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