BioDive off with a splash!

Teachers and student scientists from Virginia, Maine, Ohio, Indiana, South Dakota, Wisconsin, and California were the first to accept their mission from the Field and Beaker Investigators (F&BI).

Teachers and student scientists from Virginia, Maine, Ohio, Indiana, South Dakota, Wisconsin, and California were the first to accept their mission from the Field and Beaker Investigators (F&BI).

BioDive our immersive dual virtual reality/digital biodiversity experience began a national pilot this week launching in seven states across the country.

Teachers and student scientists from Virginia, Maine, Ohio, Indiana, South Dakota, Wisconsin, and California were the first to accept their mission from the Field and Beaker Investigators (F&BI).

Shout out to the amazing faculty and students at The New Community School, Sanford Junior High, Bristol High School, Edmunds Central High School, Cameron Middle School, Highland High School and Sacramento Country Day School! We are so excited to take this voyage with you!

By the end of the 2019 spring semester students in middle and high schools across all fifty states will have had the chance to dive in, explore, and investigate diverse marine environments across the globe.

Their goal? To stop the destruction of our greatest natural resource, the ocean. Student scientists set off on a journey of exploration and discovery at dive sites in the IndoPacific, Eastern Atlantic, and Eastern Pacific.

Toggling between virtual and digital environments, the FB&I students scientists explore the impacts of abiotic factors on biotic variables across three tropical marine environments in which venomous marine snails are found. Throughout the BioDive experience, students make observations, collect data, and develop hypotheses around the changes they see.

BioDive is aligned with NGSS standards so students are gaining valuable content knowledge during their immersive experience. By following the scientific processes of inquiry, discovery, and questioning, students role play as scientists to examine threats facing our oceanic biodiversity.

We can’t wait to get feedback from the student scientists and their amazing teachers on their week long BioDIVE experience!

2019 Ed Games Expo

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On Monday, Jan 7, and Tuesday, January 8, Killer Snails joined more than 100 other educational game developers in Washington DC at the Kennedy Center for the 6th Annual Ed Games Expo- two days of demonstrating our products and learning from each other!

Thanks to Ed Metz of the Institute of Educational Sciences the conference was the largest and for Killer Snails, the best one yet!

Monday began with over 1200 students from local Washington DC schools visiting the game developers’ booths. As you can see, it looked the students had a great time playing our BioDive as well as all the games around us including Fablevision, Schell Games, Andamio Games, The Beamer, PocketLab, iCivics, Early Adopter and Tablecraft!

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After the four hours of demonstrating with students, the hall closed for a brief break before Office Hours started with a number of stakeholders in the educational games community, from organizations like Digital Promise, Games & Learning,  and West Ed, to funders from Chan Zuckerberg Initiative, Rethink Impact and GSV- AcceleraTE. We were thrilled to meet with so many brilliant members of the educational game ecosystem.

Tuesday kicked off with a panel facilitated by Susanna Pollack of Games For Change on research on educational games from researchers Jan Plass of New York University, Mark Lee of Carnegie Mellon University and Meredith Thomson of Massachusetts Institute of Technology and Edward Palacios from the Department of Education’s Continuing Technology Education.

The discussion centered on how VR can be a tool for education; it won’t be a panacea.  A couple highlights from that discussion:

  • As Meredith Thomson said, “To create VR for learning we need to think about rules, roles and resources. We need to figure out rules for how people work in the new environment. We need to think about roles. We need to think about resources for what these people are using in their roles.”  

  • Still much research and work to be done on determining the best ways to use VR building upon the characteristics of experience: construction of identity, sense of presence and co-presence which leads to spatial knowledge representation, engagement, collaborative learning, ability to undertake experiential learning tasks, and contextualization of learning.


The next panel included heads of game studios Jessica Ochoa Hendrix of Killer Snails, David Langendoen of Electric Fun Stuff and Tyler Gates of Brightline Interactive. We talked a bit about the direction we were each developing- Killer Snails and Electric Fun Stuff both develop for mobile VR as our focus is on being in schools. Brightline Interactive works with higher end VR for site specific learning virtual reality.

The next panel centered on partnerships and distribution led by Michelle Miller, President of Games and Learning, who pointed out the “Huge opportunity- 30 Million US teachers and 30 M US families currently use digital learning content. 88% of all schools now connected over high bandwidth.”


She spoke with Jordan Lloyd Bookey of Zoobean, about their product Beanstack which they sell through library systems.  Jordan mentioned how important it was to start off working with a consortium of libraries to attain financial stability.Kara Carpenter of Teachley, stated Teachley’s goal of going very deep on a concept which teachers really like. Their sales strategy has evolved to focus upon 5-25 schools districts because they pay more attention to a small, successful pilot. Successful pilot leads to a single school purchase which may lead to a district purchase.  Dave McCool, of Muzzy Lane Software, talked about his successful partnership with McGraw Hill. The project came out of a Gates Foundation grant which included passing an accessibility audit and being cross platform.

A couple interesting points from the panel included:

  • Teachley recently completed a small study that looked at games alone versus games + data, classrooms that had access to the data played the game 70% more than the folks that had only games, regardless of whether the teacher actually looked at the data.

  • Zoobeans and Teachley remark about how popular the printable mastery certificates are!

The next panel was equally interesting as it was a panel discussion on Funding/Business Models Moderated by Michelle Dervan of ReThink Education, with Panelists Grant Hosford of CodeSpark, Krista Marks of WootMath, and Devin Young of ClassCraft. Many of the attendees, Killer Snails included, have previously received government grant funding through the Small Business Innovation Research program so hearing of these differing models was inspiring.

Our top two takeaways from that panel were:

  • 2016 was the biggest year for deals (1.48 billion in 280 deals and it has dropped to about 1.2 billion in about 240 deals). Funds want to write larger checks for fewer companies. This has translated to a seed round being $2-3 million dollars.

  • Do your research not just on the Venture Capital for (do they invest in your area? What size checks do they write?) but also on the specific person you want to reach as most VCs are prolific writers.

The group also discussed over funding models as Krista mentioned she had sold a previous company to Disney. Finally, the group had a passionate debate about the importance of efficacy studies for investors and buyers with a general agreement that these studies are necessary but not sufficient as VCs are mostly interested in growth and some districts are interested in those studies while others seem less interested.

That led nicely to the final panel of the day which focused on Research and was facilitated by Bart Epstein of the Jefferson Education Exchange with Panelists Jessica Tsang of Chan Zuckerberg Initiative, Daniel Stanhope of LearnPlatform,  Hank Fien of University of Oregon; and Michelle Tiu of WestED.


All of these organizations take a slightly different approach to research and dissemination so learning more about each one's strategy was fascinating. This panel discussed the different stages of research, the planning needed to scale what works and bringing on researchers. A couple highlights from that panel:

  • Pay attention to user experience and test your product in widely divergent different implementation environments.  Don’t just test with the friendlies and overachievers

  • Bring in researchers early to help your products be more grounded in evidence. Many researchers love being advisors. Check National Education Researcher Database (NERD) to help you find researchers who may have researchers or availability.


After that panel, we returned to the fourth floor of the Kennedy Center to prepare for the public Ed Games Expo from 4pm-8pm. Many people came by that evening including developers, teachers and  families.

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This was the third Ed Games Expo Killer Snails has had the privilege of joining and definitely our best one yet! Thank you again for all the hard work from Ed Metz and all the organizers!






18 Ways Killer Snails Grew in 2018

Lindsay, Jessica & Mandë at SBA awards!

Lindsay, Jessica & Mandë at SBA awards!

2018 was a banner year for team Killer Snails! We’re so grateful for the continued support of our friends and colleagues in the games, education, and science spheres and we can’t wait to continue to grow, collaborate, and launch new products in 2019!
We wanted to share the snail-love by highlighting 18 Killer Ways 2018 was a success:

AWARDS

  1. In 2018 the New York District Office of the Small Business Administration named Killer Snails the 2018 Small Business Innovation Research (SBIR)/Small Business Technology Transfer (STTR) Recipients of the Year! This award recognized our patent-pending multimodal communication system featured in our BioDive Experience, which connects users across VR mobile devices and web browsers to provide real-time feedback to teachers via a teacher dashboard.

  2. Biome Builders many wins including: the gold medal at 2018 International Serious Play, the 2018 Family Choice Award and the 2018 National Parenting Center Seal of Approval! (in 2017 Biome Builder was the Boston Fig Award winner too… two years in row of awards for this awesome nature ecosystem game!)

Our Explainers working with Mandë during our Residency at NYSCI

Our Explainers working with Mandë during our Residency at NYSCI

3. Selected as Designers in Residence at New York Hall of Science. This residency gave us the opportunity to hone our design thinking process with four fantastic Explainers who created a digital and tabletop game based on revitalizing exhibitions within the museum. The residency was a fantastic growth opportunity for us as well as Yuliya, Sam, Leah and Kumari! The games will be available on New York Hall of Science’s website in 2019!


PRODUCTS

4. Launched our first virtual reality game, Scuba Adventures: Philippines available in iTunes and Google Play store. Dive in and Explore!

5. Created our first Augmented Reality experience, Killer Snails All ARound with Google Expeditions. Make Killer Snails appear anywhere you are!

A snail tried to eat our sushi!

A snail tried to eat our sushi!

6. Developed Beta versions of new games and virtual reality experiences in formal educational settings, including more than 20 schools in the New York Tri-State area, as well as informal settings including the American Museum of Natural History, New York Hall of Science, The Brooklyn Strategist, Brooklyn Game Lab and BioBus!


COMMUNITY BUILDING

7. Started the Virtual Reality in Education Meet Up with our friends at Electric Fun Stuff and grew to include over 545 active members in under a year! On the third Wednesday of every month come join the meet-up and learn about latest in VR and Education!

8. Led workshops at the New York Film Academy, Queens Tech Incubator, Playcrafting,  Columbia’s Teachers College, and New York University. Sharing our expertise with formal and informal audiences.

Lindsay and Amanda at Intentional Play!

Lindsay and Amanda at Intentional Play!

9. Presented our work at events such as CUNY Games, Games For Change, Serious Play, and Intentional Play. Building collaborations that strengthen our projects.  

10. Spoke on panels for Women Owning It, Black Women Talk Tech, National Science Foundation Innovation Corp, New Schools Venture Fund, and National Association of Women Business Owners. Recognized as leaders and sharing experiences.

Mandë, Jessica and our Explainers at MakerFaire!

Mandë, Jessica and our Explainers at MakerFaire!


BRAND BUILDING & GROWTH  

11. Demonstrated our games and experiences at Ed Games Expo, ToyFair, SUBMERGE, Maker Faire, MineFaire, Play NYC,  and National Science Foundation Conference

12. Invited to join the Project Entrepreneur cohort where we learned so much from other female founders and Lynn Loacker!

Jessica doing a 90 second pitch at Entrepreneur.com festival

Jessica doing a 90 second pitch at Entrepreneur.com festival

13. Pitched at Virtual Reality NYC, NY Tech Alliance, Columbia Venture Community Start Up Night, National Science Foundation Small Business Innovation Research Conference,  Entrepreneur.com, and Propelify. While we didn’t always win, we always learned how to get better at pitches!

14. Proudly represented female founders by pitching at Project Entrepreneur, and Female Founders Pitch Competition. A growing circle of women entrepreneurs we’re happy to be apart of!

15. Signed our first collaboration with partners C&A Scientific to develop a new game together featuring their microscopes and slides!


MEDIA HIGHLIGHTS

16. Mentioned in some of our favorite publications, including:  EdSurge, The New York Times, The Telegraph,  Education Week, Downtown Brooklyn, The Root, and Entrepreneur.com!

17. Appeared on podcasts including Science Friday, The Nerdette and Technycal, where we had wonderful conversations about science, entrepreneurship, making STEM education better for all students, being female founders and on spreading a love of science through games.

18. Spoke on the Impact Stage for the National Science Foundation about the power of collaboration and how Killer Snails has leveraged our expertise to work with others- Growing stronger with our many partners and collaborators!


Bye-bye 2018, it was a Killer year for us!

A Killer Snails Feast For The Ears And The Eyes….

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Looking for year-end treats you may have missed? Check out the latest podcasts and writings from our team.

Podcasts for the ears

Women in TECH Technycal Podcast with Lynn Loacker from DWT/Project W & Killer Snails!

Bill Kozel has the awesome job of talking to entrepreneurs that bridge “when silicon alley meets silicon valley,” and he invited us together with Lynn Loacker to launch a new series Women In Technology (WIT)! Love it already…

 Lynn Loacker counsels companies from startup to fortune 500. She coleads DWT NextGen Tech, and Project W to help women achieve parity in the boardroom and build successful companies.  She believes women will achieve gender parity in their working lives when more women run their own businesses.  

 And if that’s not a full plate… She runs a women in art salon! Held every quarter in her apartment. Lynn the managing partner, advisor, and all around super star for female entrepreneurs!

 Listen to the podcast and learn how to connect to other female founders, how to find grant funding for your projects, and reasons female startups are underfunding and how to avoid those traps!

--

Nerdette: How Killer Snails Can Save Your Life!

 Our Chief Scientist, Dr. Mandë Holford was recently featured on the Nerdette podcast, “a safe space for nerding out about all the things you're watching, reading, listening to and encountering IRL.” Host Greta Johnsen and producer Justin Bull are in charge of this fun-filled romper room of nerdom. Together with Mandë they have a far ranging conversation about transforming venoms from agents of fear to agents of hope! Mandë describes how something that should kill you, can actually be transformed into a medicine to save human lives. They also discuss the mission of KillerSnails and why we want to improve STEM education for students across the globe. But its not all serious science talk… listen to hear how Beyonce and Serena Williams have influenced how Mandë feels about her Root100 mention.  

 

Writings for the eyes

Our Chief Learning Officer, Dr. Lindsay Portnoy hit the keyboard and pressed out several publications and a book this year! 

 Well, technically her book, “Designed to Learn: Solving Problems with Purpose and Passion,” and other in press pieces published as part of an edited series “Learning, Education, and Games: 100 Games to Use in the Classroom,” by Karen Schrier will be out in 2019. But, you can feast on her postulates about games in education, assessment, and design thinking for the classroom. Click on the links below to explore and learn!

Portnoy, L. (2018, November). Developing the Whole Child, One Collaboration at a Time. Getting Smart. Retrieved from https://www.gettingsmart.com/2018/11/developing-the-whole-child-one-collaboration-at-a-time/  

Portnoy, L. (2018, August). How design thinking can help teachers solve real problems and find their voice. EdSurge. Retrieved from https://www.edsurge.com/news/2018-08-22-how-design-thinking-can-help-teachers-solve-real-problems-and-find-their-voice

Portnoy, L. (2018, April). Design thinking adds "why" to the "what" and "how" of learning. ASCD Express, 3(14). Retrieved from http://www.ascd.org/ascd-express/vol13/1315-portnoy.aspx

Portnoy, L. (2018, February). Level up your classroom assessments: Are you game? ASCD Express, 3 (12). Retrieved from http://www.ascd.org/ascd-express/vol13/1312-portnoy.aspx

Portnoy, L. (2018, February). How SAMR and Tech Can Help Teachers Truly Transform Assessment. EdSurge. Retrieved from https://www.edsurge.com/news/2018-02-01-how-samr-and-tech-can-help-teachers-truly-transform-assessment

Portnoy, L. (2018, February). How Continuous Feedback Fosters Learning. Getting Smart. Retrieved from http://www.gettingsmart.com/2018/02/how-continuous-feedback-fosters-learning/

Stay tuned for some exciting upcoming publications in 2019!

Team Killer Snails wants to educate you about nature, STEM education, and games in the classroom, living room, and boardroom! Enjoy…

Biome Builder- the first year!

Game Designer and Product Manager Noelle Posadas receiving awards!

Game Designer and Product Manager Noelle Posadas receiving awards!

A little over a year ago we were thrilled to accept the award for Best Family Tabletop Game at the Boston Festival of Indie Games for Killer Snails while the game was still not published. Biome Builder is the first card game I (Noelle) have been the game designer on and I was thrilled that before even being available for sale Biome Builder was an award winning game.

Over the past year we have learned so much about what is necessary to make an award winning tabletop game. Previously, I had little experience applying for awards and accolades. With Biome Builder, we submitted to gaming awards around the country hoping to promote a game that was not just fun; an educational experience that used the mechanics of the game play to demonstrate key scientific concepts.

Since Biome Builder is not just a game, but also an educational experience we were able to submit to educational competitions as well. Earlier this year we received the International Gold Medal for Educational Tabletop Games at the Serious Play conference. Serious Play is an event that celebrates games that serve purpose of inspiring education and learning. Biome Builder was also a Mensa Select Finalist. Every year Mensa holds an event where their members play and rate and review games they then share this valuable feedback with the finalist and winners.




Eventually, in addition to the gold medals from 2018 International Serious Play, and Best Family Game at the Boston Festival of Indie Games, Biome Builder was also awarded the 2018 Family Choice Award and the 2018 National Parenting Center Seal of Approval!


All of these competitions helped to affirm that Biome Builder is a good game that can be a great teaching tool. In addition to these competitions, Biome Builder sold out the first run in less than a year! We are excited that our second printing is finally here (see beautiful picture below!) and will be shipping out soon. The success of Biome Builder has helped to propel us to develop even more experiences that inspire a love of science.

Second edition of Biome Builder!

Second edition of Biome Builder!




Dive In, Explore, Learn! VR experience Scuba Adventure: Philippines Launched



Our first virtual reality game!

Our first virtual reality game!

 

Snail lovers, we’re excited to share that our first VR immersive experience Scuba Adventure- Philippines, on iTunes and Google Play and coming soon to OculusGO!

 

Days are getting shorter in NYC and the temperature is dropping, but out of the studios of Killer Snails things are just heating up…

 

Want to learn what venomous creatures can be found off the coasts of the Philippines? Or maybe you want to wink at a sea turtle? Or gaze into a starfish sand garden as the ultimate zen relaxation staycation… all this awaits you as you explore and learn about the biodiversity ecosystem in this exciting VR experience.

 

Scuba Adventure: Philippines is a spin-off from our VR/hybrid BioDive initiative.

Select one of five game types to start the dive

Select one of five game types to start the dive




After pilot testing Biodive with close to 3,000 students and teachers, we kept hearing that they couldn't wait for the final thing and wanted a bit-sized treat to nibble on while we perfect BioDive.  Our time in the National Science Foundation I-Corps and Lean LaunchPad training philosophy drilled in “the customer is always right adage” so we’re giving the people what they want!

 

Dive into Scuba Adventures: Philippines today and see what the excitement is all about!

Submerge + Design + Make + Play

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This fun-filled weekend we dived and designed with creators and learners big and small. On Saturday we SUBMERGEd ourselves at the fifth annual SUBMERGE NYC Marine Science Festival on Hudson River Park’s Pier 84. Just as the name implies, SUBMERGE is a deep dive into all things marine with the added bonus of highlighting local critters and attractions.

Young scientists loved playing KS latest VR game Scuba Adventures launching on Oculus Go later this month!

Young scientists loved playing KS latest VR game Scuba Adventures launching on Oculus Go later this month!

From Kayaking or Big City fishing on the Hudson, to learning about oyster filtration systems from Harbor Food or the Billion Oyster Project, there was lots to explore, discover, and dive into! Killer Snails demoed our newest VR experience Scuba Adventure:Philippines, which will launch soon on Oculus Go and GooglePlay. In our underwater adventure you’re diving the coral reefs of the Philippines to find venomous creatures, invertebrates, vertebrates or free diving to explore the biodiversity in this unique ecosystem. Our faves were all the kiddies who couldn't get enough of the sharks, dolphins, and of course killer snails coming at them!

Team KS + NYSCI Proudly demo-ing KS games alongside two entirely new games made by these stellar Explainers (left to right: Leah, Mandë, Sam, Yuliya, & Jessica)

Team KS + NYSCI Proudly demo-ing KS games alongside two entirely new games made by these stellar Explainers (left to right: Leah, Mandë, Sam, Yuliya, & Jessica)

On Sunday, we Designed + Made+ Played our hearts out atMaker Faire! The annual gathering of tinkerers and doers hosted at theNew York Hall of Science (NYSCI).  This Faire is all about play/break/fix/play again. Mythbusters were on hand, along with scientists, technologists, citizen scientists, and backyard explorers… if you have anAda Twist Scientist or an Iggy Peck Architect in your home make sure you add MakerFaire to your calendar. We were there displaying our new games in collaboration with NYSCI.

NYSCI Explainer Yuliya playtests one of the two new games made with KS Designers-in-Residence alongside KS designer and artist Noelle Posadas

NYSCI Explainer Yuliya playtests one of the two new games made with KS Designers-in-Residence alongside KS designer and artist Noelle Posadas

If you’re a frequent visitor to our site then you read about ourDesigner in Residence experience where we worked with Sam, Leah and Yuliya to create two new AMAZING games that will be launched this fall at NYSCI.  Attendees to Maker Faire got to pilot and preview these games. We’re happy to report everyone who played was eager to get their own to take home! Even the Audrey2 puppet, which was a killer addition for us!

Intentional Design for Intentional Play

Last Friday team Killer Snails headed west to the Intentional Play Summit in Mountain View. Our goal was to learn with some of our most inspiring colleagues from experts in education, games for social impact, emerging technology, and researchers from leading institutions. Dozens of thought leaders led talks and workshops in a whirlwind daylong conference about the power and potential of games as tools for learning and social-emotional growth.

Bret Victor shares the incredible communal computing medium that is Dynamicland

Bret Victor shares the incredible communal computing medium that is Dynamicland

Bret Victor launched the day with a compelling keynote about Dynamicland, the community workspace that is also a form of computing media. Victor’s vision of is one of collaborative computing that highlights our uniquely human attributes where technology augments our ability to learn and grow together. Learners work together to create, craft, code and then recode real objects in the physical world.

Director of the Connected Learning Lab Dr. Mimi Ito

Director of the Connected Learning Lab Dr. Mimi Ito

The afternoon keynote was given by Dr. Mimi Ito of Connected Camps and Connected Learning Research Network. Dr. Ito inspired the audience to find the place where interests, relationships, and opportunities collide as the space for truly connected learning. Despite living in a largely disconnected world, Dr. Ito is working to build environments that allow peers to connect with one another in meaningful ways.

“Connecting with peers helps students unfamiliar with non-traditional careers by inspiring and changing the trajectory of a student’s story” says Dr. Ito.

“Connecting with peers helps students unfamiliar with non-traditional careers by inspiring and changing the trajectory of a student’s story” says Dr. Ito.

During lunch there so dozens of excellent choices for learning and connecting with colleagues in the education, gaming, research, and design community that choosing one was quite difficult! I decided to join one of the thirteen roundtables facilitated by Dr. Michael John of USCS Games and Playable Media. Together our group of a dozen attendees discussed what aspects of game development should be taught in the classroom from reducing bias to increasing empathy.

Chief Education Officer of iCivics Dr. Emma Humphries discusses the collision of two trends: games and news literacy!

Chief Education Officer of iCivics Dr. Emma Humphries discusses the collision of two trends: games and news literacy!

A series of short TED-inspired talks allowed attendees to convene in a shared space to learn about the future of mixed reality in the classroom, the cognitive science underlying game design, the science of immersive technologies and the colliding trends of games and news literacy. Aleissia Laidacker, programmer and designer Magic Leap, took the audience on a deep dive into the affordances of Mixed Reality. Killer Snails co-founder and Chief Learning Officer Dr. Portnoy gave a talk on the relationship between cognitive science and the development of immersive learning experiences. Michael Casale, Chief Science officer at STRIVR, shared insights from training with immersive technologies. Emma Humphries, Chief Education Officer of iCivics closed out the exciting session by talking about the role of games in teaching about news literacy and revealed the latest addition to the iCivics roster of games: Newsfeed Defenders.

Filament Games CEO Dan White talks about the impact of the immersive nature of VR on learning.

Filament Games CEO Dan White talks about the impact of the immersive nature of VR on learning.

Before demo-ing our latest Virtual Reality experiences Scuba Adventure and BioDive we were able to check out two lasts sessions. The first was led by Adam Bellow and Mark Hammons of Breakout EDU. While our team didn’t actually break out of the box, we did break into a great talk about the importance of communication, collaboration, and hard work as essential elements for a successful team! Before setting up to demo our latest learning games we were able to hear from Filament Games CEO Dan White about how VR changes learning. From embodiment to immersion, impact to identity, he shared 6 theories of how he sees the future of VR changing the landscape of learning.

KS Teacher Ambassador Amanda Solarsh & Chief Learning Officer Dr. Lindsay Portnoy demo KS VR, digital, and tabletop learning games.

KS Teacher Ambassador Amanda Solarsh & Chief Learning Officer Dr. Lindsay Portnoy demo KS VR, digital, and tabletop learning games.

A special thanks to Jen Helms, founder and chair of the Intentional Play Summit, who curated an extraordinary group of indie games, thought leaders, and a wide range of sessions to captivate all of the attendees of the 2018 Intentional Play Summit. Team Killer Snails can’t wait to play again next year!

Scuba Adventures: Philippines- coming soon!

Coming soon to Oculus Go, Google Play and iTunes!

Coming soon to Oculus Go, Google Play and iTunes!

In Scuba Adventure, you’re a marine biologist racing against the clock to tag marine creatures before your oxygen tank runs out of air. Navigating an underwater world, you will accomplish five distinct missions. This game was created by our award-winning team that includes a practicing marine biochemist! Check out the preview video here!

This game evolved from the more than 1000 students who have playtested BioDive and asked if they could buy parts of the VR experience already. As we told them at the time, we are still deep in beta testing mode, but we decided to whet the appetites of our players with this standalone game!

PlayNYC attendees demoing Scuba Adventures:Philippines

PlayNYC attendees demoing Scuba Adventures:Philippines

Scuba Adventures has been shown at MineFaire and PlayNYC, and we will be demoing it at the Intentional Play Summit, Maker Faire and the Submerge Festival in the next two week! We are thrilled with the response so far and look forward to seeing more people play with it too.

Minefaire attendee came back to play several times!

Minefaire attendee came back to play several times!

 

 

Reflections from our Software Engineer Intern: Isaac

Starlyn and Isaac exploring Mandë's lab during their first week

Starlyn and Isaac exploring Mandë's lab during their first week

When I was in high school, a teacher once asked my class, “what do you think the secret to getting a job is? Internships, internships, internships!” And every summer in college I would apply for an internship, confident and hopeful in landing one. After almost four consecutive summers of applying, I finally achieved it. The stars finally seemed to be aligning for me. Was I finally seeing my teacher’s generic advice come to fruition? One could only hope.

This summer, I had the opportunity to intern as a software engineer at Killer Snails LLC. I applied for this  opportunity through the Tech Talent Pipeline residency program at my school, CUNY Lehman College. I remember right before the interview hearing my name being called and then the company name. “..You’re up next..with…Killer Snails!” I went in unsure of the challenge but also confident and as myself. None of my peers mentioned if they interviewed with this company. I had no idea what I was in for. But it was there I met my future bosses, the lead developer Chris, and the CEO and co-founder Jessica.  Our interview lasted for around forty minutes to an hour. Everything I learned about the company made me interested and hopeful to work there. They mentioned games for education, bringing science to kids outside of the classroom, virtual reality. I was sold. But did I sell myself well enough to them? A few weeks later, my co-intern Starlyn and I got an email from the CEO Jessica, We are so thrilled to have you interning with us!” I was ecstatic. I got my first tech internship.

These past three months have developed not only my technical and soft skillsets, but also paved a clearer career path for myself. Every Tuesday I attended team meetings at the Weill Cornell Medical College in the office of Dr. Mandë Holford, an amazing scientist and member of the team. I attended Games for Change, a conference where I learned about games with positive-impact and how to apply for grants in tech (and attended Jess’ talk on the game startup industry); and MineFaire, where I demoed the new Killer Snails VR game to kids and families at MineFaire, where I networked with other game developers and teachers in the industry.

Isaac overseeing playtesting at MineFaire

Isaac overseeing playtesting at MineFaire

My teacher’s advice on internships is still relevant, especially with my graduation next spring fast approaching. But I consider myself very lucky to have been able to work with the Killer Snails team. I have not only become a more confident software engineer in the workplace, but sharpened my abilities in a start-up environment. I’ve improved my skills in back-end development through learning different JavaScript libraries like jQuery UI, and server-side languages like PHP. I faced challenges as well. Prior to this internship I was a beginner in PHP and jQuery UI. I recommend all startup interns to barrage your supervisors with questions (sorry Chris and Jess). Most important of all, I honed my skills in receiving and giving critical feedback. We all tested and reviewed the new VR game that KS has planned for release soon. Providing my insight on the game made me a more confident team-member in meetings and developer standups. But that’s the most I can share about this bold, new game from Killer Snails. Thank you Chris, Jess, Lindsay, Noelle, Mandë, Carlos and Starlyn. Stay killer.

-Isaac Atif

Starlyn, Chris, and Isaac at the end of the internship

Starlyn, Chris, and Isaac at the end of the internship

Killer Snails Goes to Camp

Teacher educator Rycki Waldeck watches as campers discuss their strategy for building biomes.

Teacher educator Rycki Waldeck watches as campers discuss their strategy for building biomes.

The summer heat isn’t slowing down team Killer Snails! This week we traveled to the Flat Rock Brook Camp in New Jersey. We met head counselor, teacher educator and super-mom Rycki Waldeck at MineFaire a few weeks back and she thought that Biome Builder would be the perfect companion to the "wild watersheds" themed week of camp.

Campers launched into game play, building thriving biomes and connecting the wild card “rain” to the growth of flourishing ecosystems. Game play also ignited a host of conversations around how healthy watersheds sustain plant and animal life. 

(front) Campers quickly master Biome Builder and (back) get a sneak peek at Scuba Adventures.

(front) Campers quickly master Biome Builder and (back) get a sneak peek at Scuba Adventures.

Lead developer Christopher shared Killer Snails' latest Virtual Reality game, Scuba Adventure. In this underwater adventure, players raced to tag organisms across different trophic levels each with their own point value. Some campers scored in the tens of thousands by the end of game play and everyone was excited to hear that they could play again when Scuba Adventures launches this September for Oculus Go, iOS, and Android users.

Campers weren’t the only ones in for surprising science discovery. When team Killer Snails arrived at Flat Rock Brook Camp a beautiful monarch larva was preparing to pupate. Within mere minutes we watched as the larva transformed from a black, yellow, and white striped caterpillar into an emerald colored pupa!

Now you see it....

Now you see it....

...now you don't!

...now you don't!

The next couple of weeks are going to be busy in Killer Snails Land as we prepare to launch Scuba Adventures on three different VR platforms this September, continue to playtest our upcoming VR adventure BioDive, and prepare to receive yet another shipment of our inaugural tabletop game Assassins of the Sea that is officially out of stock!

Reflections from our Software Engineering Intern: Starlyn

Hello everyone! My name is Starlyn Urena Ventura, and I am a Software Engineering Intern on the Developer team at Killer Snails for the summer of 2018.

Killer Snails Interns Starlyn and Isaac tour Dr. Mandë Holford's lab during the first week

Killer Snails Interns Starlyn and Isaac tour Dr. Mandë Holford's lab during the first week

Over the past 8 weeks I had the opportunity to join Killer Snails as a Software Engineer Intern-my first internship at a tech company through the Tech Talent Pipeline. After living in New York for the past 9 years, my first summer was spent working with smart people in a professional environment. During my time being an intern, I was treated with the same respect as any other team member, but also with the same notion of working hard and dedication as everybody else. I have been granted the pleasure to work closely with the Co-Founder Jessica Ochoa Hendrix and Lead Developer Christopher Pollati to build an online digital journal.

At Killer Snails I worked on the implementation of the online digital journal, an educational web application for students to develop a love of science. My project involved developing a user friendly interaction while at the same time being educational for everyone. There were many issues I faced during my internship and there were times I didn’t know how to tackle some of those problems. Something I learned was that there are always people that are willing to help, if you are willing to ask even outside of your team. Most of my work this summer has been focused on some important features to be released this fall including building the ability of cross browsing and multi browser compatibility into the digital science journal.

Starlyn, Christopher and Isaac at the end of the summer

Starlyn, Christopher and Isaac at the end of the summer

 

Over this summer I have become a better engineer and programmer. Working close with Christopher at Killer Snails this summer is quite special, the importance of teamwork, continuous learning outside of the classroom and workplace, have made me grow as a professional. There are many things which you can only imagine how they work, but can’t fully understand until you have hands on experience.

Play NYC

This weekend, an amazing event took place… Play NYC!

The family that dives together... thrives together!

The family that dives together... thrives together!

Over 160 indie game developers came together to show our work and it was a jubilant crowd. The room was packed with people on both days and we had our youngest ever player stop by!

Baby VR face!

Baby VR face!

 

We saw game developers we knew like MaryMartha, who created the Ultimate Clapback- a fast paced, hilarious social card fame, and we met new friends, like the team behind Unicornelia- a game that the Killer Snails crew particularly enjoyed!

Jessica felt quite sparkly as a unicorn!

Jessica felt quite sparkly as a unicorn!

One of the best aspects of the weekend was the sense of community that permeates the NYC indie game scene. Everyone was eager to share their work, offer feedback and we played a lot of new games like Host VR, Radical Spectrum (currently running a Kickstarter campaign!)  and Wicked Apples.

Our game designer, Noelle Posadas, was interviewed on Twitch (watch her starting at 1:11 here!) along with loads of other great designers and we were lucky to be near the stage to see the interviews. Highly recommend watching all of them to get the backstory on these games and learn how to play.

We owe a HUGE thank you to Dan, Peri and the Playcrafting crew- these incredible people put so much hard work into finding a beautiful venue and filling it with fantastic game-loving people.

The whole Killer Snails team is already excited for next year’s Play NYC because NYC makes awesome games!

Chris and Yuliya setting up before the first people entered Play NYC

Chris and Yuliya setting up before the first people entered Play NYC

Designers in Residence Showcase at NYSCI

Our residence at the New York Hall of Science comes to an end.

Our residence at the New York Hall of Science comes to an end.

Yesterday, Team Killer Snails attended the final showcase of the first class of Designers in Residence at the New York Hall of Science. We were thrilled to be part of this cohort along with Jaehyun Kim, who created some fascinating augmented and virtual reality with her team, Jan Mun, who led field expeditions with her Explainers to see the bioremediation of the SuperFund site Newtown Creek (and made some fun Mushroom Burritos!) and Brooke Singer who worked for six months with her Explainers to develop and build Coral Sponge, a study of varying plant mixtures in raised beds to determine the capacity for carbon sequestering in the soil.

Our Explainers, Sam, Yulia, Leah, and Kumari, spoke eloquently about what they learned during the three-month long program. They spoke about walking through NYSCI to identify exhibits that they wanted to revitalize and exhibits that they wanted to explain further to visitors. After choosing specific aspects of the museum and discussing the interconnectedness of the exhibits, our Explainers outlined how they worked as a team to design and develop a tabletop game and a digital game using the museum’s resources.

Kumari, Leah, Yuliya and Sam shared their highlights and takeaways

Kumari, Leah, Yuliya and Sam shared their highlights and takeaways

After all of the Explainers shared details of their 3 and 6 months residence, they had a showcase and demonstrated their games.

As you can see, Team Digital was rightfully proud of what they created!

Yuliya and Sam show off "NySci Adventure" right before game play began.

Yuliya and Sam show off "NySci Adventure" right before game play began.

Everyone loved playing "Think Quickly" with Team Tabletop!

"Think Quickly" is a fast-paced, funny game- as can be seen here!

"Think Quickly" is a fast-paced, funny game- as can be seen here!

Our three month experience isn't truly over yet- we will continue working with our Explainers to complete and publish the game- something we will definitely write about more!

We want to thank Liz Slagus and Erin Thelen as well as all the staff at NYSCI for this fantastic opportunity. Our team definitely benefited from the process of creating two games with a team of young, passionate science educators.

Killer Snails HIGHLY recommends the Designers In Residence program and you can apply for it right here!

The Explainer created signs for each game!

The Explainer created signs for each game!

 

 

Snails at Minefaire!

This weekend we had a fantastic opportunity to take part in MineFaire- an offshoot of Minecraft. Thanks so much to Steve Isaacs for the opportunity! We were incredibly impressed with the children we met who played Biome Builder and Scuba Adventures with us.

Playing Biome Builder!

Playing Biome Builder!

 

Some of the friends we made were experiencing virtual reality for the first time and others seemed like pros! As a reminder, if you’re interested in trying out our Virtual Reality at your school in the tri-state area, we are happy to bring it to you!

A young man's first VR experience!

A young man's first VR experience!

 

We were thrilled to meet educators from a dozen schools and to meet other game developers, like Brian and GJ from The Sheep's Meow in our space. The speakers we heard from the stage and the competitive Minecraft building were both incredibly impressive.

Searching underwater

Searching underwater

 

We hope to see many of you this coming weekend at Play NYC where we will be showing both Biome Builder and Scuba Adventures again. Please stop by booth 14 on the Main Floor and say hello!

Killer Snails Invade Serious Play

Our beautiful trophy!

Our beautiful trophy!

Earlier this month, the Killer Snails team had the opportunity to show off Biome Builder at the Serious Play Conference in DC. As the Serious Play Gold Medalist in education we were thrilled to play Biome Builder with the attendees at the game night.

Playing Biome Builder!

Playing Biome Builder!

We also had the pleasure of meeting many of other award winning game developers including the teams at Catlilli Games and Box Games. Both these companies won medals for their educational games- Box Games won for their history game Mill Makers and Catlilli won for their game Crazy Cats. We had the opportunity to play Crazy Cats which is a great game that demonstrates how genetics works while getting to draw some crazy cats. We also had the opportunity to play Biome Builder with some wonderful kids, parents, designers, and educators.

Dr. Lindsay Portnoy speaking on partnering in game development with cultural institutions

Dr. Lindsay Portnoy speaking on partnering in game development with cultural institutions

Our Chief Learning Officer Dr. Lindsay Portnoy also spoke at Serious Play about how to partner with cultural institutions as game developers. Working with cultural institutions such as the American Museum of Natural History or the New York Hall of Science can be a great way to develop new games or places to test and iterate on design. After the talk, the team had the opportunity to chat with cultural institutions like the Ford's Theatre and National Geographic

Thank you, Serious Play, for putting together such an informative and engaging conference! We are always happy to share our games and work, and this conference was a great opportunity to meet with like-minded people and share ideas on how to improve not just our games, but also society as a whole.

 

Dr. Lindsay Portnoy, chief learning officer and Noelle Posadas, game designer

Dr. Lindsay Portnoy, chief learning officer and Noelle Posadas, game designer

National Science Foundation Video Feature!

So thrilled to see this poster when we arrived!

So thrilled to see this poster when we arrived!

We had a fantastic, educational time at the National Science Foundation Phase II conference and we are so honored to share a video that was made featuring our work!

During the conference we learned more about growing our business, what others are doing in the field and some fascinating facts about products using spider silk

We will add a new post including some of the lessons learned, but we wanted to share this video right away!

Biome Builder Wins MORE awards!!

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We are SO THRILLED to announce that Killer Snails won the International Serious Play Gold Medal! The full press release is here, and we are among some excellent company!

Lindsay, our Chief Learning Officer, and Noelle, our Game Designer, will be attending the Serious Play Conference that takes place July 10-12 and Lindsay will be leading an awesome and informative panel on Thursday, July 12. If you are around DC, please come join us!

We also received the Seal of Approval from the National Parenting Center! They posted a wonderful review of us here and our favorite part is "The game will absolutely stimulate conversation, and everyone will learn something they never knew."

Thanks again for all your support!

 

2018 Small Business Innovation Research (SBIR) Recipients of the Year!

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The U.S. Small Business Administration (SBA), New York District Office, named Jessica Ochoa-Hendrix, Mandë Holford and Lindsay Portnoy of Killer Snails LLC  as the 2018 Small Business Innovation Research (SBIR)/Small Business Technology Transfer (STTR) Recipients of the Year!

We were thrilled to receive this honor! The full press release can be found here, and here are a few more pictures of us at the ceremony at Times Square.

Mandë, Jessica and Lindsay were delighted to accept this honor!

Mandë, Jessica and Lindsay were delighted to accept this honor!

The ceremony was wonderful and included honors for companies that we knew already like the Charter School Business Management (Jessica has known these great folks for 9 years now!) and  companies we met for the first time like Incausa, a small social enterprise that acts as a pro bono mediator for Indigenous productions, connecting their trade to the international market without profit share.