Friday, December 9, 2011

Motion Math Research Report by GameDesk

A New Report Released by GameDesk Shows Motion Math Game Significantly Improves Students’ Fractions Knowledge and Attitudes toward Math.

Executive Summary:

Knowledge of fractions is essential for future success in mathematics. Yet according to national data, the vast majority of US students fail to become proficient in fractions.

The advent of mobile technologies such as iPad tablets enable new kinds of physical
interactions that have potential for improving learning; however to date no experimental studies have been conducted to determine the efficacy of any iPad app for improving students’ knowledge.

An experimental study was conducted to determine whether Motion Math, a fractions game designed for the iPad, iPhone, and iPod, improves students’ fractions knowledge and attitudes. The study also assessed students’ ratings of the Motion Math game.

Results show that students’ fractions test scores improved an average of over 15% after playing Motion Math for 20 minutes daily over a five-day period, representing a significant increase compared to a control group.

Students’ self-efficacy for fractions, as well as their liking of fractions, each improved an average of 10%, representing a statistically significant increase compared to a control group.

Virtually all students rated Motion Math as fun and reported wanting to play it again; nearly all (95%) students in the study reported that their friends would like the game, and that the game helped them learn fractions.

Taken together, the data from this experimental study offer strong evidence that Motion Math successfully integrates entertainment value with educational value.

Visit GameDesk and read the full report..

Visit and

Thursday, October 27, 2011

Gronstedt Group’s Train for Success Sessions

Today, I had a wonderful opportunity to present to the Gronstedt Group’s weekly Train for Success session that was held in web.alive. My presentation topic was our modified Scrum production model that we've been evolving here at Course Games.

These Train for Success virtual world meeting sessions are superb opportunities for anyone that is involved or interested in virtual worlds, serious games, and gamification. I look forward to attending these weekly sessions in the future.

Here is their Facebook page.

Here is their SecondLife SLURL.

Here is their link for web.alive.

Friday, October 21, 2011


articy:draft by Nevigo is a cool new way to design interactive stories - using a 'flow editor' format, and it has a rich set of features for dialog, character, and world design.

Available in a multi-user (client-server) solution - this is an excellent tool for virtual teams.

We think that this may also be very useful for us as an accessible 'visualization' of the interactive/branching content - for use in presenting/pitching concepts outside the team.

Tuesday, October 18, 2011

Arizona Agribusiness and Equine Center

The Arizona Agribusiness and Equine Center (AAEC) is one of the most unique dual enrollment programs that we've seen. In partnership with Maricopa and Yavapai Community Colleges, it is a multicampus independent high school district - where students are concurrently enrolled in college-level courses as part of their high school course of study - which is focused on a rigorous equine sciences, agriculture, and agribusiness college preparatory/career pathway curriculum.

We became aware of AAEC by way of the visibility that they have attained for their innovations in STEM learning infusion in their programs.

Friday, October 14, 2011

Network engineering game from NASA

NASA has a game for network engineering that is pretty cool:

The player has to engineer Near Earth, Space, and Deep Space comm networks.

You role-play as a Scientist, Techologist, Engineer or Mathematician - each role has a different strength.

This was made with Unity (like their Space Station simulator game).

Wednesday, October 12, 2011

A Learner's Wall

Here at Course Games, we're in production on STEM learning game for 8th Physical Science instruction. Our design intention for this digital game-based learning product is that it will be used in class and at home, with mobile devices (Android and iOS) and the web browser.

We have the learning activities closely tied to the curriculum standards, textbook content organization, and lesson planning found in typical 8th grade Physical Science courses across the nation. Our next design challenge is to envision a 'front-end' for the product that will promote and facilitate emerging game-based learning in the classroom.

Our initial thinking (a needs analysis is in process) is that the most effective design for the 'front end' of the product would have a contemporary functional core that is, or embeds into, a social learning enterprise.

Our primary question is “How does the use of the learning product promote and sustain social learning?”

To get a sense of what how this system will function, we're starting by drawing a functional diagram with Social Learning Enterprise at the center. From that central focus, we are depicting any/all features, tools, resources, content, media, activities, etc. in respect to how they contribute to the Social Learning Enterprise.

We're envisioning that this product might seem something like Facebook or Google+ mashed up with an Online Game Lobby - with some common Learning Management System (LMS) features. The ‘main page’ in this system would be the learner’s ‘social wall’.

Using this product, learners would work in class in self-identified small group learning communities, sharing their work with each other and collaborating in the same social manner that they commonly do outside of school. They would complete learning challenges assigned by the teacher and thereby earn achievements, access information resources – bookmarking what is most relevant, and contribute their own user-generated-content (images, movies, links) related to learning activities – working in and outside of the classroom together.

It appears that McGraw-Hill is already doing something like this:

Thursday, October 6, 2011

Identifying Successful K-12 STEM Education

The National Research Council's report "Successful K-12 STEM Education" focuses on the science and mathematics parts of STEM and on criteria for identifying effective STEM schools and practices. It provides an overview of the landscape of K-12 STEM education by considering different school models, highlighting research on effective STEM education practices, and identifying some conditions that promote and limit school- and student-level success in STEM. It can serve as a guide for those involved in K-12 education at all levels: policy makers; decision makers at the school and district levels; local, state, and federal government agencies; curriculum developers; educators; and parent and education advocacy groups.

Friday, September 30, 2011

Badges Competition at DML

The Mozilla Foundation and the HASTAC Initiative (MacArthur Foundation) are offering two new competitions related to badges and achievement systems:

Badges Competition: Badges for Lifelong Learning ($10K-$200K)

Research Competition: Badges, Trophies, and Achievements ($5-$80K)

Check out the Mozilla Open Badge Infrastructure standards and APIs:

Tuesday, September 20, 2011

Google+ Developer APIs and other Hangout stuff

Google has launched an initial set of APIs for developers creating games and apps on the Google+ platform.

The initial release is limited, only allowing developers to retrieving public information from the Google+ community. Developers using the API can access public information about their customers, as well as retrieve certain player analytics.

Google+ supports programs written in Java, GWT, Python, Ruby, PHP, Objective-C, and .NET, the company said.

The Google+ social games network was unveiled in August. Heavyweight studios such as Zynga, Rovio, PopCap, Playdom and Digital Chocolate are supporting the platform with key game releases.

Sunday, September 4, 2011

Inkling by WACOM

Tablets are super cool ... but, what if you could draw on paper and then magically upload that sketch into Photoshop? How often do you wish that you could do that?

Well, check this out ... Inkling by WACOM.

Tuesday, August 30, 2011

US News and World Report Starts STEM Ed Resource Center

US News's STEM Education resource center will have their latest news, opinions and thoughts about science, technology, engineering and math education." The STEM center will provide "viewpoints from top experts in the field, rankings of top STEM schools, and stories about programs and people that are making a difference."

Friday, August 19, 2011

NSTA Freebies Resource

In case you have not seen this, here's an NSTA page is an amazing collection of cool resources for Science Teachers:

Making Learning Games that Don't Suck

Palo Alto-based education game maker Airy Labs has raised $1.5 million from Foundation Capital, Google Ventures, and Playdom co-founder Rick Thompson.

The funding comes after a $100,000 fellowship grant to Airy’s founder, Andrew Hsu, from Peter Thiel’s much-publicized and politicized “20 under 20″ grant program, in which the PayPal co-founder paid 20 young entrepreneurs to leave or forgo college in favor of starting companies.

The announcement also makes Hsu the first alum of Thiel’s program to get a business idea venture funded.

Airy’s mission, according to Hsu, is to “make games that parents can feel good about handing to their kids … and that don’t suck.”

The games, which will initially teach English, math and memory building, will be targeted at the 5 to 13 age range, which is coincidentally about the same age Hsu was when he started studying neuroscience at the University of Washington.

It’s somewhat ironic that the first funded Thiel fellow has spent almost half his life in college.

While Hsu said that Thiel’s cash was “nice to have,” he said he knew he’d have to raise a lot more to build out his vision for cross-platform learning games.

Hsu said Airy’s first products would be offered initially on Apple’s iOS and Google’s Android platform, with the hope that the games will evolve “into a larger platform where social learning can take place.”

Wednesday, July 20, 2011

New Framework for K-12 Science Education

A report released today by the National Research Council presents a new framework for K-12 science education that identifies the key scientific ideas and practices all students should learn by the end of high school. The framework will serve as the foundation for new K-12 science education standards, to replace those issued more than a decade ago. The National Research Council is the operating arm of the National Academy of Sciences and National Academy of Engineering; all three are independent, nongovernmental organizations.

Read the report online at the National Academies Press.

Thursday, June 30, 2011

All-girls St. Paul Public Middle School targets STEM

The Laura Jeffrey Academy, Minnesota's first all-girl charter school, held graduation ceremonies for its first ever class of 8th graders.

The charter school, which teaches fifth through eighth grades, attempts to build the confidence of girls and push their interests in science, technology, engineering, arts and math through a year-round project-based model.

Since it opened in 2008, the St. Paul charter school has doubled in size from its original enrollment of 100 students.

The academy started with fifth-graders and added on a grade each year.

Laura Jeffrey, the school's namesake, died in 2003. She was one of the first African-American female students at Macalester College. She graduated with honors and became one of the first African-American librarians in the St. Paul library system.

Wednesday, June 29, 2011

Discovery Education Techbooks for STEM

Eight Rapides Parish schools are replacing their science textbooks with "techbooks" -- digital books created by Discovery Channel that offer interactive lessons, videos and hands-on projects, and are accessible to students anytime, anywhere online.
"Some of us are using our textbook money" to purchase access to the techbook, said Fred Moore, principal of Julius Patrick Elementary School (Louisiana).

Visit Discover Education and explore their 'techbook'.

Tuesday, June 21, 2011

Zombie Science

If a zombie apocalypse arrives one day, will people be ready for it? This questions sounds like a joke — or the plot of a George Romero film — but for students in the Zombie Science Camp this summer it is a serious question. This week, they will have to study, complete experiments and learn about how to survive if zombies were to take over the Earth.

The camp is a part of the Science, Technology, Engineering and Math (STEM) Summer Adventure program sponsored by the Institute for Advanced Learning & Research. Primarily for students in third through twelfth grades. The 11 sessions are designed to be a fun way to learn STEM topics.

Zombies are not the only unique subjects to study. Other sessions include exploring Mayan pyramids, building robots and dissecting animals. One class focuses on encouraging young women to enter the high-demand field of engineering. All classes involve group work and lots of hands-on learning activities.

The camps are usually well received so many students repeat a class or come back, according to Nancy Combs, the K-12 STEM Academic Program Coordinator at the Institute.

“STEM education is fun. And it is hands on. That is important. When it is hands-on it usually means it turns their minds on,” said Combs.

In the zombie science class, which began on Monday, the 18 students from ages 11 to 14 learned about DNA and performed experiments to show how a disease — like “zombification” — could infect a person. They will later study self-sufficiency topics like filtering water and windmill power since these things would be crucial after a zombie apocalypse. While dead people do not walk the Earth, the subject matter is still useful, especially for students interested in science.

It was certainly interesting to Akira Snowden, who one day hopes to become a veterinarian, and was excited about the summer camp because her favorite subject is science.

“I originally wanted to go to the biology camp because I heard they get to cut up a frog,” said Akira Snowden. “But my mom wanted me in this one instead. But I like it too.”

Not everyone felt the same about cutting up frogs in the biology camp being offered.

“I thought the biology one sounded cool, but there was no way I was cutting up a frog,” said 13-year-old Katy Alford. Alford said she was nervous to come to camp at first because she did not know anyone, but as soon as she got there she said she changed her mind. And by the end of the day was chatting along with her other lab partners as they worked on experiments.

Twelve-year old Jake Gilstrap said the zombie class was his main choice.

“I thought it would be cool to do,” said Gilstrap wearing safety goggles and prodding a test tube. “It is something different. It’s a different kind of class. We get to see how a zombie virus will affect DNA… It’s cool.”

Being unique is something the summer camps are trying to do to make learning tough subjects fun. The camps have been at the Institute for several years, according to Combs, but more classes were offered this year because of increased funding from the J.T.-Minnie Maude Charitable Trust, a non-profit that works to provide educational scholarships and grants.

Friday, June 10, 2011

Autodesk Tinkerbox

Available for iPhone and iPad, TinkerBox is a free-to-play physics puzzle game.

"While it is full of interesting science facts and teaches basic engineering concepts, TinkerBox is more than just educational!

Take the tools in your hands to explore your creativity and imagination with Invent mode. Build outrageous machines, share them with your friends, or download popular inventions from online.

Stretch your brain through the devious Puzzle mode. Get immersed in physics-based puzzles and mechanical concepts, where your only hope for success is your creative problem solving."

Tuesday, June 7, 2011

Scalable Game Design Institute

The summer institute is part of CU's "iDreams" project, which is funded by the National Science Foundation to teach computational thinking skills in middle school through video game design.

The project team includes researchers from CU's computer science department, the School of Education, software partner AgentSheets Inc., and the Science Discovery and Upward Bound outreach programs.

The iDreams project, which is in its final year, was originally projected to reach 1,200 students through their teachers. But it's now on track to reach more than 5,000 students, according to CU. About 56 percent of the students participating in the iDreams project are minorities.

Teachers from school districts throughout the state -- and country -- are learning the Scalable Game Design curriculum, developed at CU, and the software.

School districts involved range from those that are affluent and technology-rich to rural and Native American reservation schools.

Thursday, May 19, 2011

Action Science

Dr. Bill Robertson, Assistant Professor, College of Education, UTEP, uses skateboarding, BMX, and inline skating to demonstrate momentum, gravity, friction, and force as 'real-world' physics that young learners can easily comprehend.

Visit for more ...

Tuesday, May 10, 2011

$25 computer for students

The Raspberry Pi Foundation is a UK charity which exists to promote the study of computer science and related topics, especially at school level, and to put the fun back into learning computing.

They plan to develop, manufacture and distribute an ultra-low-cost computer, for use in teaching computer programming to children. WThey expect this computer to have many other applications both in the developed and the developing world.

Their first product is about the size of a USB key, and is designed to plug into a TV or be combined with a touch screen for a low cost tablet. The expected price is $25 for a fully-configured system.

Check out this clip on BBC News.

Wednesday, April 20, 2011

MIT's Vanished STEM game

From MITnews, by Peter Dizikes

An MIT-produced interactive game, 'Vanished,' now being played by thousands online, offers a novel experiment in alternative science education.

"This month, thousands of middle-school students are going online to play an interactive video game. That might not sound surprising, by itself. But in this case, the game is a special science-mystery project, “Vanished,” created by MIT researchers on behalf of the Smithsonian Institution, as a novel experiment in alternative science education.

“Vanished” is a two-month-long game, which debuted the week of April 4 and stems from an initial scenario revealed in recent video messages on the site. The premise is that people living in the future have contacted us in the present, to answer a question: What event occurred between our time and theirs that led to the loss of civilization’s historical records? Students must decode clues in hidden messages, and in response find and provide information about Earth’s current condition, such as temperature and species data, to help people in the future deduce what wound up happening.

“Vanished,” the first game of its kind, is intended to take the problem-solving and critical-thinking skills kids often develop playing other forms of video games, and translate those habits into a scientific context; the goal is to help students experience science as an engaging process of mystery and discovery.

“Too often, kids are convinced science is no fun and not for them,” says Scot Osterweil, research director of MIT’s Education Arcade, a group jointly housed in MIT’s Comparative Media Studies program and the Scheller Teacher Education Program, which created the game. “They believe it’s all about rote memorization and procedure. But as game designers, we’re convinced that game playing is a lot like science: There is problem-solving, exploration, collaboration, hypothesizing, testing and learning from your failures.”

Informal learning

So far in April, more than 5,000 students have registered for “Vanished,” and approximately 4,000 messages are being posted daily on the site’s forums, where participants discuss clues and share information. Students can also hunt for clues at 17 Smithsonian-affiliated science museums nationally.

The game’s conceptual origins lie in discussions researchers in the Comparative Media Studies group have had with Smithsonian officials, dating back about four years. The creation of “Vanished” took place after the MIT researchers won a grant to develop the game from the National Science Foundation (NSF) in 2009.

The NSF has an interest in projects such as “Vanished” due in part to the agency’s findings, over many years of research surveys, that much of the public’s science knowledge comes from outside the classroom. The grant for developing the game came from the NSF’s program in “Informal Science Education,” which seeks new ways to interest students in science.

The MIT researchers hope that participating in “Vanished” will help break down myths among students, and help them realize that in asking questions and hunting for information, they are performing tasks central to science.

“Scientists aren’t a priesthood of people with secret knowledge,” Osterweil says. “They don’t walk around with it all in their heads. They do research to find it out.”

For that matter, a group of scientists will be participating in video chats with the students later this month, to listen to the students’ hypotheses and offer feedback. “I think it’s a great opportunity, because the students are not just learning content, but acting as practicing scientists,” says Elizabeth Cottrell, a geologist and director of the Smithsonian’s Global Volcanism Program. “The students are developing scientific habits of mind, not just memorizing vocabulary.”

It was also critical, Osterweil points out, to create a game in which students could not merely find the correct answers by looking them up online; rather, they must go out into their neighborhoods and actively record information. For this reason, the scenario played out in “Vanished” could not involve Earth’s past — about which answers can be googled — but only its present and future.

A model for future games

“Vanished” was produced by a team of researchers in Comparative Media Studies, including Osterweil, project manager Caitlin Feeley and even several students in MIT’s Undergraduate Research Opportunities Program (UROP). The MIT researchers hope to use the game as a model for the creation of future online science-education tools, and have created metrics to assess its performance.

“One thing I like about ‘Vanished’ is that there is a lot of assessment built in,” says Cottrell, who was not involved in creating the game, but says she will also be interested in evaluating how the students are responding to the game during her virtual discussion with them.

The ideal response a teacher can have when assessing an educational game is, according to Osterweil, “‘I’m seeing performance from kids I wasn’t expecting to see.’” In that sense, he adds, “We’re hoping teachers and parents see what their kids are capable of.”

Osterweil promises that “Vanished” will have some surprising plot twists for its participants as the month rolls on, though naturally he could not yet reveal what they were on the record. For that, students will have to sign up and play along."

Monday, April 18, 2011

Technovation Challenge Pitch Night

You are cordially invited to the Technovation Challenge Pitch Night on April 28, 2011 at the Santa Monica Public Library Auditorium.

Join us as we celebrate the conclusion of the Spring Technovation Challenge with a business plan competition and an awards presentation for the winning teams and outstanding individuals.

The evening will feature keynote speaker:
Lucy Hood, Executive Director, Institute for Communication Technology Management, USC Marshall School of Business

Along with the following VCs and entrepreneurs, as our Pitch Night Judges:
Dana Settle, Partner, Greycroft, LLC
Dave Siemer, Managing Director, Siemer and Associates
Eva Ho, VP Marketing and Operations, Factual
Karen Jashinsky, Founder and CEO, O2 MAX

This will be a unique opportunity to network with industry leaders and budding entrepreneurs and to learn how to take an idea from concept to launch! Register at

The mission of the Technovation Challenge is to promote women in technology by giving girls the skills and confidence they need to be successful in computer science and entrepreneurship. We aim to inspire girls to see themselves not just as users of technology, but as inventors, designers, builders and entrepreneurs. By showing girls that the high-tech world is an exciting place marked by collaboration and creativity, we hope to encourage more young women to enter the field.

In the 9-week course, high school students design a mobile phone app prototype, write a business plan, and "pitch" their plan to a panel of venture capitalists and entrepreneurs at a high-visibility Pitch Night event. Winners of each regional Pitch Night will come to the San Francisco Bay Area for a National Pitch Night.

The Technovation Challenge is run by Iridescent, a 501(c)(3) non-profit which provides STEM (science, technology, engineering and math) education for underserved and underrepresented youth. Iridescent’s mission is to use science, technology and engineering to develop persistent curiosity and to show that knowledge is empowering. If you cannot attend but would like to sponsor the event, donations, in-kind or otherwise, are tax deductible. Further details for sponsorship can be found here.

Friday, April 8, 2011

Learning Science Through Computer Games and Simulations

Learning Science Through Computer Games and Simulations - the prepublication offer from the National Academies Press:

"At a time when scientific and technological competence is vital to the nation's future, the weak performance of U.S. students in science reflects the uneven quality of current science education. Although young children come to school with innate curiosity and intuitive ideas about the world around them, science classes rarely tap this potential. Many experts have called for a new approach to science education, based on recent and ongoing research on teaching and learning. In this approach, simulations and games could play a significant role by addressing many goals and mechanisms for learning science: the motivation to learn science, conceptual understanding, science process skills, understanding of the nature of science, scientific discourse and argumentation, and identification with science and science learning.

To explore this potential, Learning Science: Computer Games, Simulations, and Education, reviews the available research on learning science through interaction with digital simulations and games. It considers the potential of digital games and simulations to contribute to learning science in schools, in informal out-of-school settings, and everyday life. The book also identifies the areas in which more research and research-based development is needed to fully capitalize on this potential.

Learning Science will guide academic researchers; developers, publishers, and entrepreneurs from the digital simulation and gaming community; and education practitioners and policy makers toward the formation of research and development partnerships that will facilitate rich intellectual collaboration. Industry, government agencies and foundations will play a significant role through start-up and ongoing support to ensure that digital games and simulations will not only excite and entertain, but also motivate and educate."

Joystick Labs Indie Accelerator

If you are involved in an Indie startup in the North Carolina area, check out this incubator/accelator initiative:

"You bring a great idea and great people, we provide the keys to minimizing the risk of starting a game company: funding, support, mentoring, and introductions.

Joystick Labs is an innovative accelerator program focused exclusively on identifying and launching the next generation of digitally distributed video game companies. We are looking for teams of 2-5 developers who are passionate about games and social media, have a clear vision for the type of experience they want to create, and who are entrepreneurs at heart.

We don’t care how many titles you have previously shipped. We are more focused on your vision for your company and how many great titles your company will ship in the future."

Tuesday, April 5, 2011


"Treadsylvania" is another cool game-based learning product from the NMSU Learning Games Lab

Wednesday, February 2, 2011

Google Apps Marketplace

From Dian Schaffhauser, Campus Technology 01/26/11

Google has introduced a new education-focused area in its Google Apps Marketplace, which provides Web applications that integrate with and extend Google Apps.

According to the company, this area will be a central destination for educators to find new Web applications specifically intended for K-12 and higher education use. The apps don't require additional logins, are available from the Google navigation bar, and can access data stored in Google apps with approval.

Currently, the site has 24 applications, including Aviary Design Suite for Education, a set of free tools and templates for creating multimedia projects; RCampus ePortfolio, a free version of an e-portfolio environment; and Applane SIS, a six-month trial version of a student information system still in beta form.

Listings for higher ed users include EasyBib, an automatic bibliography composer; Digication e-Portfolio, which allows students to showcase work online; and EduTone Connector for Moodle, a trial version of a utility that facilitates single sign-on authentication through Google Apps.

Tuesday, February 1, 2011

Khan Academy

Perhaps you've become aware of Salman Khan on PBS, CNN or through one his promotional appearances, talking about his wildly successful Khan Academy?

This is an open-source (free) project that is nothing short of amazing. He has self-produced an online library of 1600+ instructional videos for math, science, finance, economics, biology, chemistry, astronomy, history, physics, and statistics. Although many of his lessons do specifically address curriculum standards (for a purpose, such as the CAHSEE), this library is not driven by a curriculum structure, but is instead driven by learner need and interest.

This is SO totally cool!

Keith Devlin's Math Game Research

Keith Devlin has been doing very cool research at Stanford regarding the use of games to teach math at the Middle School level. He has a project idea that I hope finds a greenlight:

Here's some of his recent presentations:

Thursday, January 13, 2011

Augmented Reality using Kinect

This is a very cool health viz example of the Kinect used for augmented reality: