Balance Bike: A Learning Game

Over the past several months I've been hard at work learning to develop android apps. I just published my first app on to the Google Play Store. The app is called Balance Bike: A Learning Game.

Balance Bike is an educational game for young children to learn words, letters, and numbers through touch, sound, and speaking. The app currently contains six categories: farm animals, wild animals, birds, alphabet, numbers, and colors.

Balance Bike starts up with a home screen that allows kids to pick from different categories.


Once a kid picks a category, they're presented with a wheel of pictures. Here, they can spin the wheel.


The wheel eventually stops spinning and an animal is selected. On this screen, the first sound we hear is the name of the animal. The second sound we hear is the animal's sound. Clicking on the left and right musical notes repeats the animal name and animal sound, respectively.


Underneath the picture of the animal is a third button. Pressing the microphone, the app focuses on the word, asking the child to speak what they see. At this point, speech recognition is used to see if the word is said correctly.

TuvaLabs at the TechStars+Kaplan EdTech Accelerator

It's been a while since I've had time to write an update. The past month has been hectic. One piece of amazing news I'd like to share with friends and family is our acceptance into the TechStars+Kaplan EdTech Accelerator. You can read about the press release here.
We're working in their office space in New York City with eleven other amazing educational companies. The program started about a week and a half ago, and we've been learning a lot through their workshops and meetings they've planned out for us. As a team, we know our best has gotten us here, and with the feedback and criticism from the experts in this program we'll be able to take our process and skills to the next level.

I feel very fortunate to be working on new educational technologies at such a pivotal time in the history of education. Hopefully TuvaLabs will be able to create a positive and lasting impact in the analytical and critical thinking of students around the world. And in the long run, encourage more students to become data literate by engaging them with data that's from the real world.

And finally, a view from my seat:

Making Open Data Useful for Teaching and Learning

TuvaLabs makes open data useful by curating it into easy to use data sets and then developing rich activities around each data set. This enables teachers to bring data-based inquiry into their classrooms. These classrooms can range from civics, health, and history to science, statistics, and economics.

The way we enable inquiry into real world data is by focusing on three areas. First, we make sure students are able to ask their own questions. Then, we provide opportunities for students to explore, visualize, and analyze real data. And finally, we empower students to communicate their own findings. This means Tuvalabs is a space where students learn from local and global data, affording them to become aware and active members of their local and global communities.

In collaboration with Teachers, we’ve discovered that third graders are learning the basics of the statistical language from data about movies. Then, there are fifth grade students creating visual and verbal arguments from data around the income inequalities between men and women. Eighth graders from New Jersey are becoming aware of their community through local data on population and energy consumption data. And one more brilliant example is of ninth grade students in the Bronx learning data literacy from their local Bronx population.

Some of these students have gotten back to us about their learning experiences. One student said, "It is challenging. But we get to learn about Gender inequality and how it is affecting us." Another commented that "this was a very interesting topic to explore because I love to go to theme parks."

Occasionally, students and teachers want to explore a topic that's not yet covered on TuvaLabs. When this happens, they request data. For example, learners requested data about the demographics of the current US Congress and about the impact of Barbie's proportions on society.

The impact we've observed both inside and outside the classroom continues to motivate us. Every teacher that's part of the this community has contributed to making TuvaLabs the way it is today.

TuvaLabs Places First at the LinkedUp Vidi Competition

We went to Crete this past month to show our work at the LinkedUp Vidi Competition, which was held at the ESWC conference. We presented how TuvaLabs is making open data useful for teaching and learning. The competitors' presentations were very impressive and polished, and included Rhizi, Konnektid, DBLPXplorer, LODStories, eDL mobile app, Solvonauts, and agINFRA.

Making Open Data Useful for Teaching and Learning

Curated Data Sets around a Variety of Topics
After presenting to conference attendees, we received some great feedback and had the opportunity to connect to and build relationships with the open data community and several other startups. Several meetings included people from the Open Knowledge Foundation, Vrije Universiteit Amsterdam, Mozilla Science Lab, software carpentry, and many more.

The Winners from the Vidi Competition

We feel very fortunate to have placed first, and are very pleased with the 3000 Euros we’ve been awarded. After the competition, the various LinkedUp successes were interviewed about their experiences while being part of the competition. Below, you can see a compiled video of these interviews. Enjoy!

Giving Human Form to Audio Visualizers, Version 1

I'll upload a video of this audio visualization when I have some time. In the meantime, try the code out yourself. I'm still tweaking it to figure out what might look best.

Some requirements to run this code:
1. Download OpenCV for Processing from here: https://github.com/atduskgreg/opencv-processing/releases
2. And download and install from here: http://opencv.org/
2.b. Probably need v2.4.5 of opencv from opencv.org, but I was able to get it to work with v2.4.9

I'm also using processing 2.1.2.

And finally, copy this gist into processing:

Design and its Critics - Deyan Sudjic

If you're interested in design history compressed into twenty minutes, listen to this talk. Deyan Sudjic presents the last century of design, how it's been changing, and how it's been used to attain a plethora goals from commercial, social, and technical. Deyan is the director of the Design Museum and the author of a new book, 'B is for Bauhaus.'

A Psychoanalysis Perspective on Life and Everything

A great discussion between Adam Phillips, a psychoanalyst and literary figure, and Matthew Taylor, the Chief Executive of the RSA.

Visiting the MUSE School

Cross posting an article I wrote for the TuvaLabs blog:

Connecting with Joe Harper at the Big Bang Conference in Rhode Island, we were invited and humbled to visit the MUSE School. Each and every school we visit is a special day for us. The teachers we meet and the students we speak to motivate us to keep going. To meet the community at the MUSE School, I flew cross country to Los Angeles. Their school sits at the bottom of two hills. After parking and checking in at their office, I was enthusiastically greeted by Tania Lopez-Hipple – a math instructor. We toured the campus, went through several rooms and I loved seeing the walls of each classroom filled from floor to ceiling with work produced by their kids. When I say from floor to ceiling, I mean their ceilings drape with student work cause there’s no space to tape anything more. These teachers make a point to showcase their students.
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I learned the faculty at this school take an interest in every child in their classroom. Each teacher works to incorporate subjects like math and English into the child’s current project - they work to intrinsically motivate their students. One kid I met was designing and building his own miniature golf hole by incorporating concepts from geometry.
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We continued on to the multipurpose room where a quarter of our organic lunch was grown on campus. Tania and I, sitting with another teacher, discussed the value of independent research projects. These types of projects last for three months and engage with kids around their own interests. We discussed how TuvaLabs can be a support tool for the students to incorporate data analysis and mathematical concepts into their independent research projects. This is the beginning of a collaboration that we’re eager to learn from and engage in. We’re excited to see the kids at the MUSE School get excited around data they’re interested in.
As we move forward be sure to come back to our blog to see updates and student work being showcased on our blog.