Brain Fitness games keep older brains sharp!

I’m thrilled to share our new line of Brain Fitness games: Solitaire Chess, Rush Hour, and Chocolate Fix!

Brain Fitness Line 1024x341 Brain Fitness games keep older brains sharp!

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!

Capture Brain Fitness games keep older brains sharp!

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?

ThinkFun Sponsors Design for Change Prize

The following guest post is shared by Sanjli Gidwaney, the Country Coordinator for the incredible Design for Change USA organization!

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The Design for Change USA (DFC USA) team is pleased to announce the students of Crazy Horse School from the Pine Ridge Reservation in South Dakota, as the winners of DFC USA 2013! Their winning entry, Combating High Dropout Rates, has inspired people around the world. The students have received $500 worth of ThinkFun games, in recognition of their efforts!

The natural partnership between DFC and Think Fun is rooted in the belief that children learn best when they’re having fun. It is through critical thinking and team building skills learned during games and real world problem solving, which enable students to become better leaders and change makers of the future. DFC is incredibly thankful for the support of ThinkFun, and we are so excited that our student winners will benefit from $500 worth of ThinkFun games this year!

DFC kids ThinkFun Sponsors Design for Change Prize

2013 Design for Change USA Winning Team!

To learn more about Design for Change and the winning team, keep reading!

Design for Change is the largest global movement designed to give young people an opportunity to express their own ideas for a better world and to put them into action. Design for Change is a framework of design thinking principles such as Feel, Imagine, Do, Share, with supporting templates, exercises and a robust curriculum designed by Stanford Design School, IDEO, and Harvard’s Good Work Team. This year, Design for Change (DFC) reaches 40 countries and hundreds of thousands of youth, teachers, parents, and educators around the world.

How did the winning students impact their community?
The Lakota reservation in South Dakota faces a number of challenges including a limited number of healthy activities available for youth, 90% unemployment rate, a feeling of hopelessness and frequent substance abuse, and many students dropout before high school graduation.  In an effort to address this challenge, the students of Crazy Horse School used the DFC framework to host a community event, centered on activities such as sports tournaments, talent shows, a community dinner, and Lakota beading and quillwork.  In doing so, they believe they can restore a new sense of hope on the reservation, bringing the community together to discuss important issues.  They will use this event to show their classmates, how to replace unhealthy youth pastimes with exciting and fun activities in hopes of keeping them on track to graduate.

DFC kids2 ThinkFun Sponsors Design for Change Prize

How can I help?
The DFC USA team is raising funds to send three students and two teachers from the Crazy Horse School, to the ‘Be the Change’ Conference in India in September 2013.  To learn more, visit: designforchange.us/donate. Please help us spread the word!

Learn more about the DFC movement by checking out dfcworld.com

pink

TED Talk Friday: The Puzzle of Motivation

August’s TED Talk featured one of my favorite authors – Daniel Pink – in his 2009 TEDGlobal talk The Power of Motivation.

In this powerful talk, Pink challenges traditional notions of what motivates people. Pink shares ways that typical go-to solutions like bonuses and contingent motivators often don’t work or – in some cases – do harm. 21st century tasks require managers to think and incent differently, and Pink’s talk provides a thoughtful springboard to these important shifts.

What motivates you in your work?

Move over Willy Wonka… GIANT Chocolate Fix at Math Plus Academy

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.

CF4 300x225 Move over Willy Wonka... GIANT Chocolate Fix at Math Plus Academy

life size choc fix 225x300 Move over Willy Wonka... GIANT Chocolate Fix at Math Plus Academy

The photos below are from a STEM event for girls that we do called IGNITE (Igniting Girls’ Natural Inquisitiveness in Technology & Engineering).

Math promo 2012 300x200 Move over Willy Wonka... GIANT Chocolate Fix at Math Plus Academy

CF21 300x200 Move over Willy Wonka... GIANT Chocolate Fix at Math Plus Academy

CF1 300x200 Move over Willy Wonka... GIANT Chocolate Fix at Math Plus Academy

We love seeing these big thinkers in action! Have you ever tried magnifying a favorite game?!

 

 

 

ThinkFun Plays at the Boy Scout Jamboree

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!

ThinkFun Games in Nigeria!

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!

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2 young problem solvers take on Rush Hour Jr.

Swish GHStars 300x225 ThinkFun Games in Nigeria!

Students playing Swish

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Zingo!

Josh and his minions!

Is that a monkey on your desk?!

Last week I shared this photo of Josh, our Product Designer known for his lifelong love of comics and (surprise surprise) TOYS! Josh’s office is fun to visit for many reasons, but his impressive collection of desk toys ranks right up there!

Josh 300x225 Is that a monkey on your desk?!

Josh and his desk minions

Fans loved this glimpse behind the scenes, so I thought it’d be fun to share some other playful shots of desks around the office… enjoy!

Do you have any special toys or keepsakes at your desk? Please share!

shea

TED Talk Friday: An imaginary artist and children’s champion

July’s TED Talk Friday featured two hugely inspirational speakers in two very different arenas.

First up: Shea Hembry’s 2011 TED Talk ““How I Became 100 Artists” – this incredibly creative artist shared his journey to create and stage an international art show with work from 100 different artists… the only catch? he invented all of the artists and artwork himself — from large-scale outdoor installations to tiny paintings drawn with a single-haired brush!

This amazing talk is quite funny at times and shows Hembry’s incredibly creative mind, artistic range – visual storytelling at its finest!

Next up, Rita Pierson’s inspiring 2013 talk, “Every Kid Needs a Champion.”

She talks about the importance of showing our students respect, to apologizing for mistakes, and to remembering, quite simply, that “Kids don’t learn from people they don’t like.”

I get goosebumps hearing Pierson speak from her heart, saying “Every child deserves a champion — an adult who will never give up on them, who understands the power of connection, and insists that they become the best that they can possibly be.”  Very sadly, Rita passed away last month – this talk is a beautiful reminder of the legacy she left behind – inspiring countless students and educators to become champions.

Who was your favorite teacher growing up?

ThinkFun in Sri Lanka

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!

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Students at the Dharmapala School welcome Professor Andy Liu

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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.

ThinkFun in Sri Lanka ThinkFun in Sri Lanka

Bar

Hot Dogs… ThinkFun-style

Last week, a group of ThinkFunners sat around the lunch table talking about (surprise surprise…) their lunches! A fantastic conversation evolved, with folks sharing special foods they had grown up with and unusual taste combinations each preferred. Talk soon turned to condiments… and then to Hot Dogs!

Bar Hot Dogs... ThinkFun style

As people shared their toppings of choice, jaws dropped when Juan and Nic (both from Colombia) described the traditional “perro caliente,” a dog loaded with mayo, potato chips, pineapple salsa, cheese… even quail eggs!

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Juan shows off an expertly-made perro caliente!

A Hot Dog Feast was in order… and this afternoon was nothing short of spectacular! In addition to the accoutrements for Colombian hot dogs, employees shared their condiments of choice from their own traditions.

Leave it to our Design Team to make such lovely – and informative – signage for the feast! We feasted on dogs smothered in beans, sauerkraut, chili, and LOTS of pickles!

condiments 300x300 Hot Dogs... ThinkFun style

For more photos of our delicious lunch, click hereHow do YOU eat a hot dog?!