Tag Archives: TEDxLex

New Technology Brings Chocolate into the Classroom!

The following guest post is by Jaime Lassman, Director of Technology Integration and Curriculum at The Lexington School in Lexington, KY.  I connected with Jaime after my presentation on Chocolate Fix at TEDxLex last month, and since then he and his colleagues have run with the idea and used creative technology to bring this great logic game to the classroom!

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Technology Integration rarely means bringing chocolate into the classroom, but in this case, it worked.  After seeing Chocolate Fix at TEDxLex in Lexington, Kentucky, I knew it would be a great fit in our math classrooms at The Lexington School.

The Lexington School is an independent Preschool through 8th grade focused on providing an academic program of the highest quality.  My job is to find technology and make it work with our curriculum and in our classrooms.

Chocolate Fix fit the bill in terms of being a challenging addition to our math resources, and it filled an immediate need from our Geometry teacher to help our students begin to build logical, systematic proofs.  In middle school geometry, students struggle to understand that they are charged with applying rules or theorems to logically explain their thinking.  Chocolate Fix would provide a perfect platform for the type of thinking our geometry teacher was looking for.

My only problem was that it was just plastic.  I’m used to a certain amount of plastic in my job, but I’m used to plastic that surrounds microchips, batteries, or USB connections.  This was just plastic!

iPad CF screenshot 300x225 New Technology Brings Chocolate into the Classroom!I first found the ThinkFun website on Chocolate Fix and looked for an online version of the game to play.  When I couldn’t find anything online, I searched for an app for our iPads.  I was happy to find the iPad app and immediately shared it with our Geometry teacher.  He loved it, and the two of us started playing in his room and immediately seeing the connection between the thinking needed to solve the game and the thinking needed to solve a proof.  What we needed was a way to introduce the game to the whole class before handing out the iPads.

Next I started working to create an interactive whiteboard file of the game.  I figured it would be simple.  I just needed some shapes, a three-by-three grid, and some chocolate.  After trying in vain to find some suitable chocolate images from the ThinkFun website, I contacted Charlotte to request some images for my SMART Notebook version of the game.  She returned something better.  She provided me with three, professionally made versions of the game in a format that we could use immediately on our SMART Boards.

(*Note: If you’d like these files to use with your SMART Board, just send me an email! cfixler@thinkfun.com)

The next piece I needed was already online.  I was directed to ThinkFun’s BrainLab (originally developed for the 2011-2012 MATHCOUNTS program) with daily resources for Chocolate Fix .  That was the last piece of the puzzle for me.  I had the iPad version for individual play, the real version for students who needed the tactile (real) interface, and the interactive whiteboard version for large groups.  Each had instructions, puzzles, and solutions.

At The Lexington School, in only a few short weeks, we have already played Chocolate Fix in third grade (a whole-group activity on the SMART Board with kids coming up and moving the larger than life pieces on their own), in sixth grade (a fun hands-on puzzle during free time), and in eighth grade geometry using the iPad version to support the building of logical reasoning.  Each group of kids fell in love with the simplicity and with the challenge, and I got Chocolate Fix into the classrooms with a few microchips and USB connections as well.

Brain Candy Abounds at TEDxLex!

On Friday, I had the great privilege to speak at TEDxLex, an independently organized TED event in Lexington Kentucky.  The theme for the day was Playful Innovation, and a fantastic range of speakers focused on the message that while not all ideas have to change the world, they can have real power simply by engaging and challenging those they immediately touch.

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TEDxLex organizers brought together an amazing lineup of speakers and videos, all who drove home this  message through their work in diverse disciplines.  Playful innovation rang out loud and clear with inspired talks and performances, from the irrigation company exec with a dream to feed the children of Haiti to the hip hop dance crew who reminded the crowd, “Don’t quit your daydream!”

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In my talk, I showed how – with a little creativity and some thoughtful tweaks – a plastic game can be transformed into a brain-building tool, strengthening creative reasoning and logical problem solving skills our kids need to tackle the challenges of the 21st century.  I shared the exciting work we’re doing with our Chocolate Fix game, and enjoyed an “Oprah Moment” when all attendees found out they were getting a Chocolate Fix to take home!

DSCN2012 300x225 Brain Candy Abounds at TEDxLex!

During breaks between sessions, I had a blast playing games with the attendees.  Unsurprisingly, the game table was a particularly big hit with a group of elementary students who regularly watch TED Talks in class and were over the moon to be part of this live event.  I can’t say I ever signed a game box before meeting these kiddos, and I enjoyed my rock star status as “Game Lady” for the afternoon!

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A highlight for me came after the event, when several speakers and attendees gathered to take on Chocolate Fix, determined to persevere through challenge #40 as a team!  A true testament to the playful spirit of the day, these players challenged themselves to solve the puzzle in record-setting time (note the stopwatch!).

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This brainy bunch worked together to communicate ideas and emerge victorious in under 8 minutes!  To all you Chocolate Fix fans out there – consider this Challenge Extended – what is your best time!?

It was a thrill to be part of this event and spend the day surround by amazing innovators and big dreamers – serious brain candy!  To see a complete list of speakers, click here.

TEDxLex talks should be posted on YouTube shortly, and I’ll be sure to share a link once they are up!