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Updates from the Entertainment Software Association Foundation

Coming Up

The recipients of the ESA Foundation scholarship will be announced later this month.

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ESA Foundation and HopeLab battle pediatric cancer

ESA Foundation caught up with former grantee HopeLab, to learn how they are working to harness the power and appeal of technology to improve overall health and well-being. We spoke with Richard Tate, who explained how HopeLab’s Re-Mission 2 uses six unique mini-games to teach young cancer patients about their treatments. Click on the video below to learn more.

ESA Foundation and HopeLab battle pediatric cancer

Students Compete in Video Game Contest at Georgetown University

On July 13, the ESA Foundation, Junior State of America (JSA) and iCivics partnered to host a first-of-its-kind civic education video game contest at Georgetown University in Washington, D.C. More than 150  high school students from across the country competed in head-to-head matchups playing iCivics’ popular game Do I Have a Right?, which challenges students to run their own constitutional law firms.

The winning student teams were recognized during an awards reception on Capitol Hill and had an opportunity to meet members of Congress. The event also featured a panel discussion with USA Today national education reporter Greg Toppo and iCivics Executive Director Louise Dubé, which focused on video games’ potential to serve as learning tools and to engage students in civic education. Click the image below to watch their panel discussion.

Students Compete in Video Game Contest at Georgetown University

Congratulations to the competition winners!

2015 Grantees of the Month

National Museum of the American Indian

Have you ever wondered what it would be like to travel the Great Inka Road? Thanks to NMAI, you can experience the 20,000-mile-long journey and learn about its cultural impact through the museum’s newest exhibit, “The Great Inka Road: Engineering an Empire.” 

The road, which historically linked Cusco – the administrative and spiritual center of the Inka world - to the farthest reaches of its empire, now serves as a sacred space and symbol of cultural continuity across Andean communities in South America. Unveiled in June, NMAI’s exhibit allows visitors to explore the foundations of the Inka Road in earlier Andean cultures, technologies that made building the road possible, the cosmology and political organization of the Inka world, and the legacy of the Inka Empire during the colonial period and in the present day.

Great Inka Road

Families walk from the center of Cusco toward the temple site at Sacsayhuaman to celebrate Inti Raymi, the Inka Festival of the Sun.

The exhibit includes an in-gallery interactive game, funded by the ESA Foundation, where visitors control the movements of messengers, known as chaskis, as they navigate the road through an Inka city.

“The Great Inka Road” will be on display until June 1, 2018. Visit and share your experience with us on Facebook and Twitter. View the exhibit photos.

Exclusive Q & A with Teacher and Guinness World Record-holder Carrie Swidecki

Carrie Swidecki has taken the video game world by storm. A Bakersfield, Calif. teacher, she not only enjoys video games in her personal life, but incorporates them into her curriculum as well. Now a multi-world record holder, Swidecki uses active video games, specifically Just Dance!, to stay fit and healthy while raising awareness of childhood obesity.

Swidecki recently set a new world record – a 138-hour Just Dance! marathon benefitting the Children’s Miracle Network – and answered a few questions for us.

Carrie Swidecki

Multi-world record holder Carrie Swidecki uses active video
games to stay healthy while raising awareness of childhood obesity.

ESA Foundation: Can you tell us more about the Just Dance! programs you run at your school and how you’ve integrated video games and education?

Carrie Swidecki (C.S.): Video games are the language of today. Five years ago I wrote four grants through to get exergaming equipment in my classroom to get students excited about physical education and to fight childhood obesity. As a result, I saw this level of excitement about physical education that I've never seen before with students, parents, staff, and administration! Exergaming was the first physical education activity that all my students were fully engaged in, and it was the first time that students were asking if we could do physical education every day. Since introducing exergaming in my classroom in the fall of 2010, I have expanded to running three programs at my school, serving hundreds of students in grades second through sixth. I often have parents ask if they can come and play Just Dance! with their children because they see how excited their child is about the program. It’s rewarding to know that I am harnessing the power of video games to bring families in my community together. My administration, staff and district have been extremely supportive by allowing me to develop three exergaming programs. Fellow teachers often ask how they can get these programs at their schools.

ESA Foundation: What would you tell teachers who may be hesitant to use video games in the classroom?

C.S. Go for it! I’ve incorporated a variety of video games into my classroom on top of physical activity games and found that students are more engaged in learning! Parents often ask which video games I use so they can play with their children at home.   I love how video games have been able to change the family hour at home, allowing families to get fit and have fun doing it by exergaming together.

ESA Foundation: What is it about video games that make them an effective tool for promoting physical activity and fighting obesity?

C.S. Not all students have access to traditional sports due to lack of resources, finances and time, which limits their opportunities for physical activity. However, nearly every household has a video game console, which allows students and their parents to stay physically active at a relatively inexpensive cost.

ESA Foundation: How are you using your celebrity status to advocate for video games as exercise tools to combat childhood obesity and to support the Children’s Miracle Network Hospitals?

C.S. As a multiple world record holder, I’ve been able to use my media opportunities to advocate for video games as effective tools to fight childhood obesity. As an individual who was once considered obese, Just Dance! has helped me lose nearly 90 pounds. I dedicate all of my world records and dance marathons to fighting childhood obesity. I recently partnered with Extra Life for my latest world-record attempt. With the support of sponsors, community members and the media, I’ve raised nearly $60,000 to support my local Children’s Miracle Network Hospital.

All Things EdTech

As summer quickly comes to an end and children are preparing to head back to school, educators, technology experts and policymakers are finding new ways to boost student achievement by merging technology with learning. Their work in the educational technology, or EdTech, field has found success in using video games and other digital technologies to engage students in a variety of subject areas.

According to Inc. Magazine, the EdTech industry is primed for big growth this year. Advancements in wearable technology and enhanced blended learning opportunities have caught the eyes of many EdTech professionals as breakthrough trends to watch for 2015.

A variety of resources are available to teachers and school administrators who are interested in leveraging technology in their classrooms this academic year, including:

  • Google Play for Education offers a variety of games and apps designed to meet Common Core standards. This free Getting Started with Google Play for Education webinar provides tips and best practices for effectively using these tools in the classroom.  
  • Evan-Moor Educational Publishers shares six practical tips for using video games to increase engagement, improve meta-cognitive skills and boost student achievement
  • EdTech magazine scoured the web and identified 50 essential EdTech blogs offering everything from game reviews to classroom case studies and Q&As with industry experts.
  • Check out how teachers in your state are using innovative EdTech programs through the U.S. Department of Education’s Stories of EdTech Innovation website.
  • Take the Future Ready Pledge to demonstrate your commitment to work with key stakeholders to set a vision for digital learning and visit a Future Ready regional summit to learn how you can help prepare students for success in the digital age.
  • A growing number of EdTech-focused conferences feature discussions and workshops with thought leaders, education experts and industry representatives who showcase new ideas and best practices for bolstering learning through technology.

Are you using educational technology in your classroom? Share it with us on Facebook or Twitter.

2015 Grantees of the Month

Drexel University and TechGirlz

Recent reports show that there are fewer women pursing education and careers in science, technology, engineering and math (STEM) fields than men. Frank Lee, an associate professor of digital media and co-founder of the Entrepreneurial Game Studio at Drexel University in Philadelphia, hopes to change that.

Drexel University has consistently ranked as one of the top game design programs in the U.S., and Lee dedicated his career to advancing education, research and creativity in the game industry through a variety of programs. Most recently, Lee partnered with Tracey Welson-Rossman, founder of TechGirlz, a nonprofit dedicated to reducing the gender gap in technology occupations, to design a program aimed at engaging more women in STEM fields.

With the support of an ESA Foundation grant, Drexel University and TechGirlz are currently offering game development workshops for girls in the Philadelphia region. The workshops give participants a hands-on experience with different technologies and programming languages and introduce them to careers in technology-related industries.

Drexel University and TechGirlz

Students participate in a TechGirlz TechShop program, gaining hands-on experience with innovative technologies.

“Our hope is that we have more and more young girls and young women getting interested in the tech industry and game industry,” said Lee.

“Whether it’s gaming, programming, using robotics, it’s an important part of future careers and economy, so we need to encourage more girls to be participants,” TechGirlz’s director Tracy Welson-Rossman told CBS Philly.

Take a look at the TechGirlz workshops in the video below.

Video: TechGirlz workshops

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