Posted in kids, z personal

Closing the US Gender Gap in STEM

SUPER inspired on my way to work listening to this story this morning. I was a casualty of the misogyny of university level Engineering/Computer Science – quit both degree paths after being exhausted dealing with my peers and teachers. My nerd powers were just not strong enough for the non-stop eye rolls, loud sighs and general exclusion I experienced. So good to hear some avoided or plowed through it and are still fighting the good fight.

It’s worth noting, though, that women approach things different not because of biological reasons, but because of societal, especially in the examples given in this story. Other cultures without our weird gender divisions do not have the same issues. So try to qualify statements of “women do it this way/men do it that way” with a quick “in our society” before/after (even if it’s just in your head).

How One College Is Closing The Computer Science Gender Gap

Adorable. AND Inspiring. Harvey Mudd President Maria Klawe
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Posted in kids, tween

A million, yeah, Animal Jam passed it

So the big news is finally out!  We reached 1 million players!  It was last month and we are already climbing higher at a fast clip, but still something to celebrate.  🙂  Here’s one of the news outlets that picked up the press release:

http://venturebeat.com/2011/05/16/national-geographic-virtual-world-animal-jam-hits-a-million-kids/

Even more fun, our team celebrated at the Hogle Zoo in Salt Lake City, our studio’s home town zoo and where we are sponsoring their EdZOOcation program and the coolio Allosaurus:

Posted in gaming, kids, tween, virtual worlds

Dr Brady Barr in Animal Jam!

OMG, I am SO excited about this new addition to National Geographic Animal Jam.  Dr Brady Barr from Dangerous Encounters now has a Gadget lab in Animal Jam!

It’s been live for only a couple hours and the room has been full the whole time.  Dr Brady Barr specialized in cool gadgets that help him get crazy footage of all sorts of animals.  And we are showing some good ones, including Brady getting into a Crocodile getup and tagging Crocodiles, hanging out next to a deer carcass to see wolfpacks at night and pythons and Mystery Swamp Creatures!  ACK!

I love it!  And this is just the first day. Look out for more cool stuff from this awesome-tastic Scientist/Celebrity that we are partnering with.

I find myself  shouting at the videos – get away from there Brady!!!

Woot!

———-

5/12 – UPDATE!  Brady’s answering the player’s animal questions!

Dr Brady Barr now has regular video answers to questions from kids in the game.  So our kids can ask a real scientist their animal puzzlers and potentially have him answer their question.  Love this kind of feedback and recognition.  How exciting!

Posted in kids, trends

That’s tech learning?

Saw this and had to repost:

My son is a sixth grader in a district where I don’t teach, so I always try to pry info out of him about what he is up to (no small feat, with a 12 year old boy). I’m interested, and yes, sort of competitive, too. Yesterday, I asked him how his six-week “exploratory” block in technology went for him. My question came on the heels of his shocking (to me) remark that “Tomorrow, we get to play video games on the computers for 48 minutes.”

Now, I know that 12 year olds are not always that reliable for the entire tale, so I listened to him explain what they did for six weeks. But even after some thorough grilling, it became clear that “technology” is the wrong word for this exploratory block. They learned some typing skills and, as he said, “He taught us how to do shortcuts in Microsoft Word …. and we played online games.” And then, “Oh, he showed us how to put an image in Word. But we all already knew how to do that.”

“And if you didn’t, it would take you … what …. five seconds to figure it out?” is what I muttered back. Shortcuts for Word? That’s technology in the classroom? I am beside myself with frustration that this is the best exposure to technology offered to a sixth grader? I’ll bet that curriculum is 10 years old and hasn’t changed a bit since then. What about creating? Composing? Publishing? Exploring (not games)? Web 2.0? There is a movement underway, folks, and if you can yourself a technology teacher, you better get on board. I do show my own children a lot of technology (although I should write about that someday now that he is entering the ‘Can I have a Facebook’ phase and we try –not always successfully — to balance access to our technology with limited screen time). Here at home, we make movies, create music and do more than most, I am sure. But what about those other kids who don’t have parents who are teachers into technology? What about them? Shortcuts and image placement in Word is the best we can do for them? I’d even be happy if the gaming was them inventing their own games or something of value. Instead, they are going to sites that are probably bombarded with advertisements in order to play a simplistic flash game. Peace (in a huge sigh), Kevin

Source: dogtrax.edublogs.org, Posted on: Jun 18, 2010 09:31 AM by dogtrax

Posted in gaming, kids, marketing, online community, Safety/Privacy, tween, virtual worlds

National Geographic Animal Jam – Open Beta!

Hey everyone!

The reason I haven’t posted in forever is because I am hard at work on our newly launched project (albeit in open beta) National Geographic Animal Jam!

The day is finally here to live wild with National Geographic Animal Jam™. Now you and your kids can be among the first to monkey around in this virtual world of discovery and fun. Combining the chance for kids to be the animal of their choice with access to National Geographic’s limitless libraries, National Geographic Animal Jam will open your child’s eyes to a world of adventure and exploration like no other virtual world out there. Your kids will soon realize that they’re having tons of fun in the coolest jungle around!

Two years in the making, National Geographic Animal Jam represents an ongoing creative collaboration between the great minds at National Geographic and the gaming gurus at Smart Bomb Interactive. The goal of this virtual world is to provide a fun, exciting, and safe environment for kids to play online, as well as inspire them to explore and protect the natural world outside their doors.

So come prowl around inside National Geographic Animal Jam. With lush tropical kingdoms, amazing adventures, and fascinating facts in store—plus the chance to live it up as your favorite animal—mommy and daddy bears (and their cubs alike) will find a wild world worth discovering!

National Geographic Animal Jam – Jump into the Jungle Today!

We are tweaking and polishing through the summer, and as such, it is completely free to play through the open beta! When we have our Grand Opening this fall, we will offer premium subscription content, but the game will always have free to play features.

Check it out and let me know what you think!