BigLeap Launches First Crowd-Funding Challenge Platform for Social Good: First Challenge Aims to Give Children Everywhere Access to Free Games That Can Actually Make Them Smarter
SAN FRANCISCO, CA – BigLeap, the world’s first crowd-funding prize and reward network that allows passionate advocates to drive social change via competition-based challenges, today launched its first challenge: to make education more accessible.
BigLeap’s first challenge is championed by Professor Silvia Bunge, a neuroscience and childhood learning expert at U.C. Berkeley, and Bill Ritchie, the CEO of ThinkFun games. The challenge will give children everywhere access to free games designed to improve their brain power by helping to develop their reasoning and logic skills via simple, interactive game play.
ThinkFun’s mission has always focused on bringing mind challenging games to children everywhere, and this challenge is an exciting new way to ensure these brain building games reach even more communities. Read more on Bill’s involvement in this challenge and find out how to get involved here!
These brain-boosting games are designed to strengthen mental muscles through play – and you can bet my playful grandma has already got a set!
These three games were created in partnership with fantastic volunteer testers from the ThinkFun community and AARP who gave feedback on everything from packaging to piece design to challenge progression. Industrial designers shared ergonomic pieces designed for larger hands, and testers voted for their favorites and shared great ideas about modifications and preferred game storage. Below is an example of insight from an early survey that led to the tagline “Cross Train Your Brain” on the package front!
We spent several months working with these testers, sharing new ideas, testing play patterns, and refining these new offerings to ensure they were both a fun and challenging experience!
Testers shared some fantastic feedback after a month of playing…
“I plan ahead more. I think of the outcome before hastily acting.”
“I play bridge and find it easier to remember which cards were played!”
“Gets your brain thinking! Challenging, stimulating and fun all in one.”
“I plan to play these for a long time!”
Increasingly we are hearing about the importance of keeping our brains nimble and strong as we age. With so many companies offering digital training games, we are very proud to present quality hands-on thinking games that engage players both on a tactile and mental level. These three classic ThinkFun games, Rush Hour, Chocolate Fix, and Solitaire Chess, have long been celebrated for pushing players to think harder and challenge themselves, and we are thrilled to present them now for an older audience!
Do you play brain games to keep your mind sharp? What are your favorites?
Our friends at Math Plus Academy, an academic enrichment program with 2 locations in Ohio, recently took their love of ThinkFun’s Chocolate Fix game to a pretty sweet new level. Madison Corna, a Director at one of the centers, shares their experience and some great photos of GIANT Chocolate Fix in action!
We became inspired to create Life-size Chocolate Fix after playing Human Rush Hour. (We thought Life-size Tip Over might be a little dangerous!). Anything that gets the students up and moving around is great because it causes them to be even more engaged with the problem solving process. Students LOVE this huge life size version of the game!
We always set it up in a tournament style with three or four rounds and the team who solves the challenges fastest wins! There are few things in the world that are more rewarding that seeing a child get excited about math and problem solving.
The first two (in the gym) are from an event at a local elementary school that we did called Think Tank.
The photos below are from a STEM event for girls that we do called IGNITE (Igniting Girls’ Natural Inquisitiveness in Technology & Engineering).
We love seeing these big thinkers in action! Have you ever tried magnifying a favorite game?!
This month, ThinkFun was pleased to participate in the 2013 National Boy Scout Jamboree in West Virginia at the beautiful Summit Bechtel Family National Scout Reserve. Our Head of Inventor Relations Tanya Thompson joined in the fun as part of the Mind Trekkers team and shares a fun recap of the week!
Mind Trekkers is an outreach organization for Michigan Tech, and their STEM (Science, Technology, Engineering and Mathematics)-focused booth was part of a larger section of the Jamboree called “The Cloud” or “Technology Quest.”
Scouts from all over the country had fun challenging their minds with our Life-Size Hoppers Brain game! Using our Hoppers Construction Kit, Mind Trekkers taped out a large Hoppers grid on a tarp and displayed multiple challenges. Scouts became the frogs and hopped their way to victory.
One thing was evident, Scouts enjoyed our puzzles!
When traveling, I have an endearing habit (in my opinion, my husband may disagree!) of stopping in every single toy store we pass in search of our games. It is always a thrill to see ThinkFun games all over the world, and I always stop to take photographs and connect with a store employee.
This doesn’t always go over well, particularly the time I spotted some awful Rush Hour knockoffs in Hanoi Vietnam and tried very unsuccessfully to communicate. The message I finally got across was crystal clear, “I am a crazy woman who speaks no Vietnamese and loves hand gestures.”
Far MORE rewarding than seeing our games on shelves overseas are the photos of our games in the hands of kids all over the world! Our distributor in Nigeria recently shared some fantastic photos of Rush Hour, Swish, and Zingo! being played by students!
Recently, two wonderful educators and long-time friends of ThinkFun traveled to Sri Lanka as guests of the National Institution of Education. Professors Andy Liu and Wen-Hsien Sun spent a busy week meeting with education leaders and visiting several different schools – and they recently shared some great photos of their travels!
Students at the Dharmapala School welcome Professor Andy Liu
Professor Sun with students at a girls’ school called Sumana Balika Vidyalaya
Among the things they shared with students were ThinkFun games – specifically ShapeOMetry and Rush Hour! We love seeing these great photos of the games in action.
As anyone who knows me and my obscenely large purse can attest, I am rarely without supplies for any given situation.
This was on display a few weeks ago, when I beat out dozens of ladies and “won” a bridal shower purse scavenger hunt. One by one items were called out (safety pins? check. eyedrops? check. lip balm? I found 3… check, check, check) and so it went, until I ended up with a mountain of things… and a victory!
Party games aside, my slight hoarding tendencies have served me particularly well when it comes to the games I always have lurking in my bag. Ready to play at a moment’s notice, I’ve whipped out games in all sorts of situations – and my recent trip to the C2-MTL Conference reinforced why this extra baggage is totally worth the shoulder stress.
I stashed a stack of cards from our new WordARound game – and aside from my umbrella (the Montreal rain is no joke!), these cards proved to be one of my smartest accessories. Between talks from incredible business innovators like Diane Von Furstenberg and Sir Richard Branson, new friends had a blast getting in a quick mental workout in the form of game play.
Do you travel with games at-the-ready? Any fun stories or tips to share about spontaneous play?
Folks are getting fired up about Laser Maze! Since behind every great game are some equally amazing brains, I thought it would be fun to introduce the inventor, Luke Hooper! Luke also invented the award-winning strategy game Laser Khet 2.0, and he has done a brilliant job translating the fun of laser play to a solo logic game!
Luke & Laser Maze strike a pose at Toy Fair 2013
So Luke, what inspired you to create Laser Maze?
Luke: Anyone who has ever picked up a laser pointer naturally starts to play with it in their own way, regardless of age. Unfortunately, a lot of things in physics and math don’t translate to everyday life in a way that justifies how amazing they are, but with lasers, it’s exactly the opposite. There is a universal coolness to controlling this very focused beam of light.
I was a huge fan of puzzles and single-player puzzle games as a kid and never really outgrew the fascination. When it comes to packaging games with challenges that have a great blend of fun and substance, ThinkFun is the leader in the puzzle game market for a reason. The team worked tirelessly to ensure the final game fit their high standard to satisfy puzzlers of all levels.
What has been the reaction you’ve heard to the game?
Luke: All very positive thankfully! Anyone who has played Khet or shined a laser pointer off of a mirror has felt the satisfaction and wonder of seeing a laser end up somewhere completely different than the direction in which you originally aimed. Add to that the natural satisfaction of solving a puzzle, and you’ve got double the payoff with Laser Maze.
What was the biggest challenge in creating Laser Maze?
Luke: It is really tough to make a laser-based game in real life because the laser follows real life rules (physics)! This means that everything in the game has to be aligned almost perfectly, with errors smaller than 1/10 of a degree or the game won’t work. Solving these problems goes beyond typical game manufacturing, so a master’s degree in mechanical engineering was a big help!
Are there benefits/skills resulting from game play that you find surprising?
Luke: The unique mechanics involved with splitting beams introduces a new type of logical thinking that draws people into physics, geometry, and reasoning that normally wouldn’t touch a puzzle game!
Haven’t seen Laser Maze yet?! Check out this quick how-to-play video:
Last month marked the 10th Annual Arlington County ThinkFun Math Dice Tournament… and while these 5th graders wowed the crowd with their impressive mental math skills, the team spirit performances got equal billing as stars of the show!
The team from the Arlington Traditional School, otherwise known as the ATS 00Dicers, showed off impressive skills with their adaptation of Macklemore’s “Thrift Shop” song. Here are the Dicers performing an encore of “Dice Shop,” with lyrics below – enjoy!