Edgames expo2019 HA glucose

2019 Ed Games Expo- A Recap


Schell Games had the oppor­tu­nity to travel to Wash­ington D.C. to partic­i­pate in the 2019 Ed Games Expo at the Kennedy Center for the Performing Arts. This was the second year the Expo was at the beautiful arts center, and it is the third time in a row that Schell Games partic­i­pated. The team set up demon­stra­tions of Happy Atoms and HoloLAB Champions during the two-day confer­ence. There was even a showreel for the Expo, shared by the U.S. Depart­ment of Education.

Day 1- How the Game Was Made

The first day of the Expo saw over 1,000 students from Wash­ington D.C. area schools. These students were not only able to demo games from over 70 devel­opers and orga­ni­za­tions, but they got first-hand looks from Ignite-like talks from devel­opers. The talks were live-streamed from the Kennedy Center YouTube Channel, and can be accessed below.

The Demo station

The Schell Games team set up both games and were busy the entire time. The team intro­duced the games to dozens of new people, as well as enter­tained some familiar faces.

2019 ed games expo team

The team in the middle of setting up and testing

Icivics girls 2019 edgames expo

The girls from last year came back!

It was great to see @MomOfAllCapes and her lovely daughters again. Even though they have a set of Happy Atoms at home, they made it a point to come by the table! She also did a nice writeup on their Expo expe­ri­ence.

The team was very impressed with how engaged and thoughtful the students were during their visit. Both expe­ri­ences were very popular. Two high school students were able to create the glucose molecule (C6H12O6) with no assis­tance.

Edgames expo2019 HA glucose 2019 ed games expo playing HLC

Overall, Day 1 was a great success.

Day 2- Pre-Expo Sessions for Devel­opers & the Public Expo

The second day of the Expo was incred­ibly inter­esting. As a new wrinkle for the confer­ence, there were talks for devel­opers and orga­ni­za­tions attending the Expo before the public showcase began. It served as a nice way for the community to hear best practices and predic­tions for the future. Below are some of the notes the team gathered from the sessions they attended.

Welcome- Mark Schneider, Director, Institute of Education Sciences
Director of the IES ed games expo2019

Mark Schneider welcomed all the devel­opers to the Expo and thanked the Kennedy Center for being such gracious hosts. It was nice to hear him speak about how excited he is for educa­tional tech­nology- and educa­tional games, specif­i­cally- to get more main­stream. He mentioned how virtual reality could transform the way students learn, and how games have the power to make students grasp concepts like teamwork and coop­er­a­tion more fluidly.

Distri­b­u­tion Part­ner­ships and Platforms

Michelle Miller of Games + Learning moderated a very inter­esting panel about the state of distri­b­u­tion part­ner­ships and how devel­opers can and should foster rela­tion­ships to get their games into schools and learning programs. The first question raised was, What is the user journey for educators?” Michelle noted that from her expe­ri­ence, it seems to go along the line of:

Online, self-guided research –> A cursory search of reviews online and sugges­tions from other educators –> The purchasing process –> Partial to full imple­men­ta­tion and (hopefully) system support

What problems or issues do parents, educators, and instruc­tional support run into? The panel high­lighted three big points: visi­bility, acces­si­bility, and sustain­ability.

Problems finding ed games ed games expo 2019

But while those issues are alive and well, so are the oppor­tu­ni­ties for ed games in the classroom.

Opprtunity for ed games ed games expo 2019

Data from EdSurge, First Book, and EducationSuperHighway

Now some high­lights from the panel:

  • For schools and school districts, the buyer’ is usually separated from the teacher and the learner. In their expe­ri­ence, the buyer is concerned about: 1) can the game(s) be cross-platform? 2) Is it web-based? or 3) Can it be K‑12?
  • Teachley has found success working with school districts with 5 – 25 schools. Even then, it is still about a two-year sales cycle.
  • Instead of trying to supple­ment curriculum materials, another value-add to buyers could be curriculum inte­gra­tion.
  • Some school districts or educators want to be able to control their own content within the game, so that can be chal­lenging.
  • Teachers and learners love certifi­cates, espe­cially if they can be printed.
  • From their expe­ri­ence, admin­is­tra­tors look at game usage, while teachers and direct support look deeper for lesson mastery and reporting
  • Teachley found that teachers used games with reporting and measuring more than games without the analytic back-end, even if they don’t use those tools.

It was a nice exchange of infor­ma­tion, best practices, and pitfalls to avoid.

Funding/​Business Models

Another obstacle for educa­tional game companies is creating enough financial capital to stay around long enough for the games to be adopted in the classroom. This panel, moderated by Michelle Dervan of ReThink Education, talked about the invest­ment and venture-capital landscape for edTech and educa­tional games.

Edgames expo2019 V Cs Edtech landscape ed games expo 2019 V Cs looking ed games expo 2019

High­lights from this Panel:

  • Venture Deals, by Brad Feld and Jason Mendelson is a great book for those looking for invest­ment.
  • The location of your business in relation to VC hotspots matter.
  • Valu­a­tions are at an all-time high.
  • Working with a VC means that you’re on a treadmill that you cannot get off.”

(sidenote: are you trying to run a studio? CEO Jesse Schell gave a talk on Studio Manage­ment: You Can Do it! In the talk, he also high­lights the different methods of funding your studio).

Discus­sion on Research

The last session the Schell Games team went to before having to set up for the Expo dealt with research. Jessica Tsang of the Chan Zucker­berg Initia­tive provided some inter­esting points for those looking to complete random­ized controlled trials (RCTs) and efficacy studies.

Research ed games expo 2019

High­lights from the Panel:

  • The impor­tance of RCTs and studies for ed games is growing.
  • Research and the results of the studies can bolster your games’ marketing plan.
  • Having a good infra­struc­ture for research in place for your games makes for a better research study/​partnership.

The panels and the discus­sions were insightful, and the team compiled a lot of good infor­ma­tion to share with the company in Pitts­burgh.

The Public Expo

The second day was just as busy on the Expo floor as the first. We got more people into HoloLAB Champions, and several orga­ni­za­tions fell in love with Happy Atoms. The team was pleas­antly surprised to see young future lab champions and chemists do so well with the expe­ri­ences!

Lab champion ed games epxo 2019

This young man got the highest score of the Expo!

Happy Atoms generated some nice news coverage, too. The WTOP station in D.C. covered the digital and physical chemistry modeling set, while STEMS did a video for their American Sign Language audience.


It was another successful Ed Games Expo. The Schell Games team loves to show off HoloLAB Champions and Happy Atoms, and are contin­u­ally blown away when people come up to the booth to say that they have a set or the game at home. The Kennedy Center for the Performing Arts is a beautiful venue, and perfect for an event that aims to entertain and delight future super­stars in STEAM education.