Scientific American Mind Magazine is dedicated to innovations in brain science. My geeky heart skipped a beat when I opened the new May/June issue… and saw Rush Hour! This iconic ThinkFun logic puzzle was featured in a piece on brain training games that have a proven effect on improving the way children’s brains work.
This article on brain training games for kids describes several products and programs designed to enhance children’s thinking skills – on page 42, it features an image of Rush Hour and describes the work of our friend Sylvia Bunge at UC Berkeley, who used this game and others (including Chocolate Fix) to improve reasoning IQ of students in a low-income community in Oakland, CA
We are thrilled to continue our work with the Bunge Lab to truly understand ways in which our games shape and improve brains – it is thrilling to be on the forefront of such innovation! This issue is available on newsstands nationwide.
A preview of the article is available here, and the entire issue can be downloaded for a fee.
To bring global attention to autism, a disorder that affect tens of millions, the United Nations has declared April 2 World Autism Awareness Day to encourage early diagnosis and intervention.
In the spirit of raising awareness (and a nod to my undying allegiance to Red Sox Nation!), I’m sharing a recent article in which Curt Schilling, former pitching ace, and his wife open up about their son’s diagnosis with Asperger’s, a syndrome at the milder end of the autism spectrum.
The Schilling share their story in "The Best Kind of Different: Our Family's Journey with Asperger's Syndrome"
Curt Schilling spent 20 years on the mound facing some of Major League Baseball’s toughest hitters. During those two decades, his teams won three World Series, including one in 2004, when he famously wore a bloody sock to help bring the Boston Red Sox their first championship title in 86 years.
But nothing in all those years could help prepare Curt and his wife, Shonda, for the challenges they would face raising their four children. Shonda details their struggles in a new book, “The Best Kind of Different: Our Family’s Journey with Asperger’s Syndrome,” which focuses on the diagnosis of their son Grant and how it changed them as a family.
“You go through different stages,” Shonda Schilling told FoxNews.com. “You mourn the child that you thought you would have. You’re sad because you’re afraid of the future and you feel guilty. You feel guilty because you’ve just spent the first seven years of his life yelling at him when he had no idea why you were yelling at him.” Continued…
ThinkFun CEO Bill Ritchie in his Super Solver cape!
This is as good a time as any to introduce ThinkFun CEO and co-founder, Bill Ritchie!
Over the last few weeks, Bill has been jetting all over the country, stopping in Berkeley, CA to visit the folks at the Bunge Lab for Cognitive Control and Development who are gearing up for a new study measuring the impact of our Rush Hour Brain Lab program on reasoning skills!
Bill made his way through Seattle to brainstorm with a designer and meet with the programmer who generated over 20,000 new Rush Hour challenges! Next, he and his wife, ThinkFun co-founder Andrea Barthello, went to LA for the TED Conference… Here he purchased a Flip video camera, and the rest is history! Bill and his new gadget made the rounds at TED, then came to NY Toy Fair to document the events and people with whom he met!
This one minute video of Bill’s whirlwind tour gives a great sense of the incredible people with whom he and ThinkFun have connected. Enjoy!
Can playing games make you smarter? This is the kind of question that causes many traditional educators to roll their eyeballs… and the kind of Holy Grail dream that drives companies like ThinkFun to develop our new programs and continue to innovate!
Last month, I was contacted by Allyson Mackey, a doctoral student who works in the Bunge Cognitive Control and Development Lab at UC Berkeley. She and a team of researchers had just finished a pilot study in which elementary school students engaged in a program playing Rush Hour, Chocolate Fix and several other games over the course of two months… and they measured an average increase that was the equivalent of thirteen IQ points from beginning to end!
The implications of these initial findings are huge, and we are thrilled to be communicating with this team and exploring possible larger-scale research in the near future using our new Brain Lab online program! Read more about this exciting study!
A Brain Lab Tester Hard at Play
There is increasing evidence that playing the right kind of games with the right kind of structure and incentives can effectively teach content and improve thinking skills, and this is precisely what we aim to do with our new online Brain Lab program. This program takes games students already know and love like Rush Hour, and structures game play in such a way that players stretch their thinking, build their arsenal of strategies, and ultimately become more effective in their reasoning and problem solving! Initial testing showed players eager to engage and hungry for more challenges, and we are currently in the midst of a second round of testing.