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Schell Games Awarded $1 Million to Transform Molecular Chemistry Education


Its Happy Atoms Project Reimag­ines STEM Molecular Modeling Sets for the 21st Century

PITTSBURGH, Penn­syl­vania (May 5, 2015) – On Friday, May 1, 2015, Schell Games was awarded a $1 million, two-year grant from the U.S. Depart­ment of Education to change the way molecular chemistry is taught in high schools. This award, from the Small Business Inno­va­tion Research (SBIR) program of the Institute of Education Sciences (IES), was one of only eight given for Phase II projects.

Happy Atoms is a chemistry learning tool designed to teach molecular modeling in high school class­rooms. Happy Atoms pairs physical atom models with an inter­ac­tive digital app to innovate current STEM chemistry teaching practices. Students can build molecules with the magnetic modeling set, and using the iPad® app, take a picture of what they’ve built. The app will allow them to discover addi­tional infor­ma­tion about the molecule, including its atomic weight and real-world appli­ca­tions.

Chemistry is not usually the easiest subject for high school students to grasp, but with Happy Atoms, we can change the way students learn this material. This tangible, inter­ac­tive learning tool for STEM class­rooms encour­ages discovery and exper­i­men­ta­tion, resulting in more deeply engaged students,” remarked Jesse Schell, CEO of Schell Games and creator of the Happy Atoms system. He further commented, I cannot describe how proud I am of our project team, who worked incred­ibly hard on securing this funding. Their efforts are to be commended.”

The IES’s SBIR program for education tech­nology products aims to stimulate tech­no­log­ical inno­va­tion in the private sector and strengthen the role of small business in meeting the Department’s research and devel­op­ment needs. In 2014, Schell Games received the Phase I SBIR award. The goal of Phase II funding is to further expand the devel­op­ment of Phase I projects. It requires a more compre­hen­sive plan that outlines the effort in detail and describes the commer­cial potential of the tool. Phase II awards can reach upwards of $900,000 and are granted for a period of up to two years. The combined Phase I and Phase II grants equal $1 million.

With this grant, Schell Games will begin to fully develop the Happy Atoms system. With the help of an indus­trial proto­typing firm, the company will determine large-scale produc­tion methods, manu­fac­turing and distri­b­u­tion for the product. The app’s molecule iden­ti­fi­ca­tion system will be refined further. Finally Schell Games will leverage its expe­ri­ence in game design to create a stim­u­lating, intuitive expe­ri­ence for the Happy Atoms user.

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About Schell GamesSchell Games is a full-service game design and devel­op­ment company with a focus on creating trans­for­ma­tional games and inno­v­a­tive, inter­ac­tive expe­ri­ences. Founded in 2002 by world-class game designer and renowned author Jesse Schell, the studio, based in Pitts­burgh, PA, heralds a highly talented array of artists, program­mers, producers, and game designers. Schell Games special­izes in creating memorable expe­ri­ences through mobile, PC, console, handheld, online and social games, inter­ac­tive theme park attrac­tions, internet-enabled toys and virtual worlds. The company counts some of the world’s most respected brands as clients, such as Amplify Learning, The Fred Rogers Company, Yale Univer­sity, SeaWorld Enter­tain­ment, The Walt Disney Company and Microsoft Corpo­ra­tion.