ThinkFun’s CEO Champions a BigLeap Challenge for Games to Make Kids Smarter!

From Marketwired – Aug 20, 2013:

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!

Spread some Sunshine!

One look at sweet little Sunny and you can’t help but grin! Want proof? Check out these adorable little munchkins playing Hello Sunshine – and just TRY not to crack a smile… impossible!

In an effort to spread more Sunshine, I had some fun creating some Sunny-inspired gear for our youngest players and their parents… perfect gifts for playful little ones!

You Are My...Morning sunshine

Have ideas for other fun game-themed apparel? I’d love to hear them!

JohnHunter-WorldPeaceGame-2-March-2011

TED Talk Friday: World Peace… and a catchy jingle!

This month’s TED Talk Friday featured Ariana Huffington’s 2011 TED Talk of the Year.

JohnHunter-WorldPeaceGame-2-March-2011

John Hunter, whose work I shared in this post after the 2011 conference, defines inspirational mentorship in my mind. His approach to teaching children about complex world problems through active engagement, and ceding control, is just amazing to see unfold.

Here’s John Hunter’s talk “Teaching with the World Peace Game

This year’s highlight of the TED Ads Worth Spreading campaign had everyone at TEDActive bopping along… it’s incredibly catchy- in a hysterically morbid kind of way!

Enjoy Dumb Ways to Die!

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

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

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!

DFC

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

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

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

life size choc fix

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

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CF1

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!

2 problem solvers take on Rush Hour Jr.

2 young problem solvers take on Rush Hour Jr.

Swish

Students playing Swish

Zingo - GHStar

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 and his minions!

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!