Thursday, May 27, 2010

Ten winners snag $1.7M total in digital competition

The MacArthur Foundation grants fund projects is an annual competition to inspire and find new ways to use digital media to support learning. This is the third year of the competition and 10 projects are selected each year sharing $1.7 million dollars. The article stated that the competition was announced in collaboration with President Obama’s “Educate to Innovate” initiative, challenging designers, inventors, entrepreneurs, and researchers to create education technology “learning labs” for the 21st century, with digital environments that promote building and tinkering in new and innovative ways.

The winners will use games, mobile phone applications, virtual worlds, and social networks to advance learning in the 21st century, the foundation said. Today’s students interact with other students around the world online, in social networks and video games and according to Connie Yowell, the foundation’s director “the competition helps them to identify and nurture the creation of learning environments that are relevant for kids today and will prepare them for a 21st-century workforce.”

Some of this year’s winners:
  1. Click! The Online Spy School: Engaging girls in STEM activities, peer networking and gaming
    • Combines social networking with a virtual laboratory for teen girls featuring a fictional spy school
    • This game is for learners ages 7 to 11, that encourage their interest in the environment as they explore their surroundings to create, collect, and monitor the health of virtual “bug” species
  3. Fab@School: A digital Fabrication Laboratory for the Classroom
    • Introduces K-12 students to the power of mathematical analysis and modeling, digital fabrication, and engineering by encouraging imaginative and collaborative experimentation, invention, design, and creation.
  4. Hole-in-the-Wall: Activity Based e-learning for Improving Elementary Education in India\
    • The e-learning bridges the digital divide by reaching underserved youth in the developing world by installing over 700 internet enabled public Playground Learning Stations across India, Bhutan, Cambodia and Africa. The games promote experiential learning mapped to the prescribed primary curriculum across various subjects.
  5. Mobile Action Lab: Programming Apps for Collaborative Community Change
    • These labs network emerging entrepreneurs, social change agents, and top technologist with Oakland-based youth participants who propose, develop, and market online and mobile apps.
  6. Conservation Connection: From the West Side to the West Pacific
    • This project engaged American youth from the West Side of Chicago and Fijian youth in the West Pacific in stewardship of Fijian coral reefs through direct involvement in the scientific process
  7. MetroVoice: About/IN/
    • Youth in Los Angeles collaborate to write and produce videos and TV screen banners that explore aspects of their families, blocks, streets, and neighborhoods. These messages are then transmitted on TV screens on LA Metro buses transforming the buses into mobile learning labs.
  8. Nox No More: Connecting travel logs with simulation, gaming and environmental education
    • This online gave personalizes environmental education by linking learning to a player’s personal life to illustrate the positive impact of simple, everyday choices to save the planet from carbon emissions by providing the analysis of potential fuel savings by alternative transportation choices
To access the winners of this year’s competition and the past two years please go to:

One of last year’s winners was Scratch & Share: Collaborating with Youth to Develop the Next Generation of Creative Software that won the BEST IN CLASS: Design. This winner created Scratch & Share as a way to enlist youth and teen online community members as active development partners, and allows them to share projects across mobile platforms, to integrate them into social media including Facebook and Twitter, and to remix them more seamlessly.

This school year our school system introduced Scratch to our students and I was able to watch one fourth grade class using Scratch to create interactive characters. The teacher said the students really enjoyed working with the program. I look forward to hearing from the teacher next school year as the students continue to work with Scratch creating interactive stories, games, music and art.

To read the entire article:

To learn more about Scratch:


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