October 28 2016 edition

In this week’s newsletter: Microsoft and Apple hold huge press conferences! The Cooney Center recommends More Big Bird! EdSurge interviews Kimberly Bryant, founder of Black Girls Code! President Obama brings together his Kid Science Advisors! And I run out of exclamation points. Okay, one of those isn’t true!

Thanks to Greg Bianchi and Russ Shilling 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

Microsoft VR HeadsetLast week’s big news came from two press conferences: one from Microsoft, and one from Apple. Microsoft surprised many by announcing heavy support for 3D object scanning, editing, and sharing in the upcoming Windows 10 Creators Update. You can download a preview of Paint 3D from the Windows Store, and test out the Remix 3D community (which will support Minecraft!) They also announced a VR headset platform with support from HP, Dell, Lenovo, Asus, and Acer, and prices starting at $299! The Verge created a great summary video. The Apple press conference was a quieter event, highlighting an updated MacBook pro with OLED touch bar and fingerprint sensor, and a unified TV app. They also announced that Minecraft is coming to the Apple TV. Here’s The Verge’s video of the Apple conf.

The American Educational Research Association released a study highlighting the development of gender gaps in math achievement between Kindergarten and third grade. The study noted that boys and girls entered Kindergarten with roughly no gender gap, but unconscious biases and behavior may be to blame for its appearance by grade three. A very interesting study.

The US Department of Education has released the beta version of a free online tool to help evaluate edtech products. The Ed Tech Rapid Cycle Evaluation Coach takes users through the steps of choosing a tool and analyzing whether it aligns with their desired outcomes. Give it a try!

A recent piece on Gamasutra analyzes the state of educational games in the Minecraft era, discussing titles from Filament Games, iCivics, Strange Loop Games, and others.

Michael Levine and Lisa Guernsey from the Cooney Center analyze the recent recommendations on screen time for kids from the American Academy of Pediatrics. More Big Bird, less brainless screen time. This sounds like guidance that could benefit us all!

We’re enjoying the 2016 season of games with political themes, and we’re not the only ones! This piece on New Scientist highlights a few such as the GOP Arcade and Trump-themed games on Steam. Games and Learning dives in deep on the topic of gerrymandering, highlighting a documentary with accompanying game (see the Playables section).

Games for Change is raising money through an auction of meetings with game industry power players. Spend a day with Bing Gordon, have a workout with Strauss Zelnick, get a tour of Adam Gazzaley’s lab, or meet up with Graeme Devine for coffee at the Magic Leap office!

We know that the sense of presence one gets in virtual reality can evoke strong feelings of empathy. An increasing number of nonprofits are experimenting with VR films to communicate their missions more effectively: for example we recently covered the UNVR program, and Oculus has a “VR for Good” program. Read about other nonprofits using VR in this WaPo piece.

Osmo Pizza Co. is a new game for Osmo’s augmented reality iPad system in which kids learn how to run a pizza shop, developing entrepreneurial skills by running a business, making change, and keeping customers happy.

Coding and Making

Black Girls CodeEdSurge interviewed Kimberly Bryant, founder of Black Girls Code, about gender and racial diversity in the tech industry. Said Bryant, “…we still have these gaps in the communities that we serve. Students may come to a Black Girls Code workshop and become inspired and enthusiastic[…] but many of them may go home or go to a school where there’s no broadband access.”

Living Computer Museum, the Seattle museum where you can learn about and interact with working vintage computers, is expanding and embracing an educational mission. The first floor of the newly renamed Living Computers: Museum + Labs will open November 18 and include a rotating gallery of exhibits about modern computing technology. I can’t wait!

Should you use robots to teach programming? Which robots, and what are best practices for using them effectively? Alfred Thompson keeps track of popular robots for teaching computer science, and is thinking that CSTA would be a great place to further the conversation. Interested? Drop him a line!

Globaloria has launched a new course for Pre-K to 4th grade that teaches computer science, innovation, teamwork, and coding! The new course, Game Inventor, is designed to introduce the fundamental concepts of CS and foster an understanding of the “computer science mindset”.

Passcode Cup is a “capture the flag contest” that took place recently in Washington, where teams of university college students battled against each other to hack into computers and defend their own, in a mock cybersecurity battle.

The PLATO system was an early mainframe-based learning system designed for education that flourished in the 1970s at schools, universities, and offices around the world. Its TUTOR programming language was simple enough that non-technical people could use it to write software — of course an active games community developed around it. Many early popular games on other operating systems evolved from PLATO games! Check out Matt Barton’s video to learn more.


Gold Rush Game MakerGold Rush Game Maker (Web) – The BBC released a point-and-click game development tool aligned with the three-part television show Operation Gold Rush with Dan Snow. Give it a try and then share your game with others via the BBC’s new platform, Mixital!

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!

RoboMind Academy (Web) – Program a virtual robot to learn about logic, automation, and technology. RoboMind Academy is a series of courses for introducing children to computer science. Try the free Hour of Code course! Video.


POTUS Kid Science AdvisorsPresident Obama Meets With His Kid Science Advisors – When 9-year-old Jacob Leggette asked President Obama if he had a child science advisor, he probably didn’t think the President would take him up on it! Recently, the White House held the first meeting of President Obama’s new Kid Science Advisors. Listen to them share their perspectives on science, technology, and innovation with the President and his other science advisors.

History of the Battery – Curious about how a battery works? Or how modern batteries evolved? Catch this latest episode of Adafruit’s “Collin’s Lab”, a series of excellent educational videos about electronics.

Introducing Touch Press Games – Touch Press Games is a new brand representing the impressive educational games originally produced by Amplify Games. You can purchase their games individually on the App Store, or subscribe!

Unity1 VR in the Classroom – Dawn DuPriest is an innovative educator from Fort Collins who loves to use technology as a teaching tool. Check out her series of five videos on how to use Unity and VR in the classroom, to create places you could never visit in real life!

The Hesline 64 – This impressive passion project turns a Nintendo64 into a portable gaming device, complete with multiplayer breakout box. It’s inspiring to see projects like this!


Virtual Reality Developers Conference – Bringing together creators of immersive VR experiences to share best practices and technology demos. San Francisco, CA. November 2-3.
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.
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.
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.


Get the Level Up Report: Getting this newsletter from a friend? You can sign up to receive the Level Up Report by visiting our site at http://www.levelupreport.com.

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

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *