CamelCamelCamel (what a name!) is a free website that tracks the price history of any product on Amazon.com. Being a big Amazon.com customer, having this tool at my fingertips is invaluable. I can check to see if a product that I want is at its peak or valley and make judgement calls accordingly. You can even set alerts to notify you via email or Twitter.
This incredibly useful service is free! What are you waiting for?
Quest to Learn has the right idea, in my opinion. We’re inundated with technology everyday. Why not adapt that to create a fun learning environment for kids? Stepping back a bit, what really stands out to me is how this school uses practical application in its teaching methods. That reminds me of my time at Cal Poly SLO, where the motto is “Learn by doing.” All the lab-time is where the real learning is done.
I also love their “grading” system. Instead of getting the traditional letter grades of A through F, you “level-up” (“pre-novice,” “novice,” “apprentice,” “senior” and “master.”). Considering those titles are more applicable to real-life jobs and skills, I feel that this reinforces hard work and effort. Would you rather be presented with a letter grade at every milestone, or would you rather earn “experience points” that lead to the next level of mastership? Think of the difference in impact of being handed an “F” and being told to redo an assignment vs. earning a subset of points that eventually lead to the next level?
I really think this school is on to something and I hope to see more innovation like this.
An open source collectible card game that uses Pokemon-like game mechanics to teach kids about real animals? Very yes! This is a wonderful idea!
Phylo (or if you rather use the preferred term of endearment, Phylomon) is an an online initiative aimed at creating a Pokemon card type resource but with real creatures on display in full “artistic” wonder, and all via a non-commercial-open-access-open-source-because-basically-this-is-good-for-you-your-children-and-your-planet sort of way. This means that it thrives on contributions from folks who are artists, folks who are scientists, folks who like games, folks in the business of educating children, as well as folks of other expertise as various situations arise. Essentially, every step of game development, from imagery to the rulebook(s), is an exercise in crowd sourcing.
On the site, you can even check out the phylo project’s origin story. Here, you’ll learn that it was essentially inspired by Andrew Balmford, a conservational biologist who in 2002 published a curious paper in Science that showed that children as young as 8 were able to identify and characterize up to 120 different Pokemon characters. Yet, by the time they entered secondary school, they still couldn’t identify half of the UK’s 100 most common plants and animals. In the paper, Andrew was understandably troubled by this, and simply asked “Why is this?” and “Is there anything we can learn from this?”
In any event, the project has just started off with 12 cards, so that people can get a sense of what the site is all about, but there are plans to roll out new cards at a rate of at least one per weekday starting next week. Anyway, do go check it out, tell others about it, or better yet, get involved. Currently, the two biggest requests is to have more artists submitting their work (drawing and/or photographs), and for gamers to have a crack at a prototype rule set, or to even come up with alternate rules.
Interestingly, there are some who currently estimate there being roughly 1.9 million different species that have been classified by humans. Wouldn’t it be cool to have a biodiversity card game with the potential to have that many cards?