News Article

Transforming a Toy Into a Teaching Tool

Monday, April 5, 2010

From The Chronicle of Philanthropy, April 4, 2010

Turning a Toy Into a Reading Tool

by Nicole Wallace

The Education Development Center, in Newton, Mass., has received $1.2-million from the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation for a two-year project to create hand-held games for the Nintendo DSi to help struggling middle-school readers.

Shelley Pasnik, director of the charity's Center for Children and Technology, says that almost 70 percent of children entering the seventh grade read below grade level. The new games, she says, will emphasize vocabulary words that are important for learning a range of subjects.

Ms. Pasnik says that while she is excited about the potential of video games as a learning tool, it's important not to make blanket assumptions about what will appeal to young people.

"Popular culture and game play and media consumption is part of the water in which young people swim," she says. "That's not to say that all students find video games compelling."

Chronicle of Philanthropy