Recap of ED Games Expo 2016 (video)

At the ED Games Expo this month in Washington, D.C., Classcraft talked to some of the developers displaying educational games on the show floor.

In the recap video above, you can watch our highlights from the event. You can also read about the different games we previewed below, as well as watch expanded clips for each.

The Foos by CodeSpark Academy

Joe France of CodeSpark Academy showed us The Foos, a game for kids ages 4-9 that demonstrates the basics of coding, such as sequencing and loops.

Because it’s solely visual-based, “it’s made for pre-readers, it’s made for kids who are slow to read, [and] non-English speakers,” France said.

The Foos features puzzle gameplay and a gamemaker, where kids can put what they’ve learned into effect.

Little Birdies Adventure by Creative Frontiers

Mustafa Hasnian of Creative Frontiers talked about the tentatively titled Little Birdies Adventure, focused on reading literacy and psychosocial issues.

It features a positive social storyline with animal characters, an assortment of learning mini-games, and is ideal for kids ages 4-7. It’s due on mobile devices (iOS and Android) in 2017.

Life Underground by USC Game Innovation Lab

In collaboration with the NASA Astrobiology Institute, USC Game Innovation Lab has developed Life Underground, an upcoming game about field science.

Sean Bouchard talked about the middle school game and how it helps students understand better what field science is and “letting them play through the journey of discovery that the scientists that we talked to when we researched this game do every day,” Bouchard said.

Bouchard mentioned that one component simulates “microbial life and allows students to experiment with different environments that may be helpful or harmful to them.”

Fish Lake, Making Camp, AzTech by 7 Generation Games

Maria Burns Ortiz gave us an overview of some of the different games from 7 Generation Games, including Fish Lake, Making Camp, and AzTech.

These adventure games teach Common Core-aligned math using social studies as the storyline focus. They’re available in English and Spanish on a variety of platforms.

Killer Snails by Killer Snails

Jessica Ochoa Hendrix of Killer Snails walked us through the self-titled physical card game, which puts students in the role of a scientists.

In Killer Snails: Assassins of the Sea, students have to determine which peptide toxins they need to create painkillers. They must feed and care for cone snails, which produce the peptides. While doing so, students compete against other “scientists” who can put obstacles in their path.

Walden by USC Game Innovation Lab

Walden is an upcoming digital, authentic re-creation of the book by Henry David Thoreau, which recounts the author’s experiences at Walden Pond.

The game enables students to experience those observations first-hand by simulating that environment and incorporating real-world materials, such as Thoreau’s maps and correspondence.

“In his book, he identifies basic needs that human beings need,” Sean Bouchard told us. “So you need to find food and keep yourself fed. You need to improve your shelter to make sure you’re sheltered from the elements. But at the same time, you need to go out and explore the world and engage with it, thoughtfully and considerately, the way that Thoreau did.”

Wuzzit Trouble by Brainquake

Randy Weiner introduced us to Brainquake’s games for K-8 that assess math proficiency.

Weiner told us that the flagship mobile app Wuzzit Trouble replaces math’s “symbols and syntax with interactive game objects that are non-threatening and exploratory that allow children, sometimes for the first time, to have success and feel safe interacting with mathematics.”

ExoTrex by Dig-It! Games

Elisa Bartolomeo-Damon from Dig-It! Games showed off ExoTrex, an eighth grade chemistry game that specializes in atoms and renewable resources.

“This game is based off the premise that we have used up all of our renewable resources here on Earth, and we need to find a new planet to live on,” Bartolomeo-Damon said.

ExoTrex uses comic book-styled visuals to lure in students.

Financial Literacy by EveriFi 

Zach Wagner of EverFi gave us a tour of its Financial Literacy course for middle school students.

The course is “a narrative where they play the mayor of a town, and they’re helping citizens of their town, making financial decisions throughout.”

Students learn about unit price, budgeting, opportunity cost, and need versus want, as well as other topics.

Happy Atoms by Schell Games

Brooke Morrill of Schell Games told us about Happy Atoms, a molecular modeling set and companion digital app.

Students snap a picture of the molecules they build, and the camera scans and reproduces the molecules in the app. Kids can then learn more about what they’ve created.

“It has a 3D model that you can move around, it has the type of bond, its geometry, its state of matter, any hazards it may pose, and my favorite part, the everyday uses,” Morrill said. “So this allows me to make a connection between a relatively abstract concept of methane [for example] and something I may see in my everyday life.”

Interactive Cases by Cogent Education

David Ducrest of Cogent Education explained Interactive Cases, which are interactive science products that teach critical thinking skills and real-world problem-solving.

“We take critical science concepts and place them in a context where they really matter,” Ducrest said.

He showed one example of a seizing calf and how it relates to osmosis. “We’re asking 9th grade biology students to understand the principles of osmosis and then use those ideas to help this baby calf,” he said.

Brainology by Mindset Works

Kristin Villanueva of Mindset Works showed us Brainology, a blended learning curriculum for grades 5-9.

“It teaches neuroscience concepts while fostering growth mindset,” Villanueva said.

She added, “This game teaches how the brain grows and makes those connections to really emphasize that students can build those connections in their brains, therefore growing their brains and their intelligence and skills.”

Stories in Motion by 3C Institute

Deb Childress from 3C Institute introduced us to Stories in Motion, which adapts social narrative intervention into a game for kids with autism.

Students create avatars that interact in comic-based storylines, which record their responses. “So rather than a social skills intervention that’s being done to you, instead you’re taking the lead … and the students walk away feeling proud,” Childress said.

Empires by MidSchoolMath

Martha Riecks of MidSchoolMath gave us a quick look at Empires, a story-based middle school math game.

It’s aligned to Common Core and uses the story of Ancient Mesopotamia to interest students. “It’s a little bit of Choose Your Own Adventure, a little bit Civilization, and a lot of ‘Well, what happens if I do this, and how do I solve that problem?'” Riecks said.

Photo credit: Cynthia Cephas Photography

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