Category Archives: School

Get your engineering on!

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I feel like I shouldn’t even have to warn you any longer that the following post isn’t directly game related.

So consider yourself decidedly NOT warned.

Something really cool happened right here in Downers Grove this weekend (Sunday July 21st to be exact). A group of college kids on a sort of engineering tour of the US (driving the SparkTruck) stopped by Downers Grove North Highschool to show some of our kids (and adults!) a small example of what it is like to take an idea from initial concept to design by using a small variety of pieces and parts and a whole lot of enthusiasm.

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My son Sam went to two of their sessions (organized by the FRoG group right here in DG also) and had a great experience both times – designing and building a photo (5)“jelly-tick” consisting of a foam carapace and long tentacles (is that what a jellyfish has?) which moved in a somewhat organic way by virtue of a small pager motor and coin-sized battery. He also learned to work with a team to help their “alien robot” maneuver around a newly discovered planet in search of energy.


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These two exercises were – themselves – cleverly designed to show the participants a variety of design principles without becoming a lecture. Kudos to the originator of the idea(s), and even more props to these students who are basically following the same routine of a small touring band; stopping from city to city and sleeping wherever someone will let them. More often than not, they wake up in a new city and hit the ground running: sharing their love for creativity, engineering and discovery one city at a time.

If you get the chance to check out one of their sessions, I highly encourage you to do so. If you don’t have kids, register your niece or nephew or pretend your child “got sick” the day of an event and go “in their place.”  It is that good.

So here’s to Sarah, Benji, Brittany, Steven, and the “do you know anyone with that name” Warren. You guys GOT IT GOING ON – keep it up!



Too many choices

Obvious disclaimer: Somewhat off-topic post follows…

“Hello!WelcometoMcDonalds!WhatcanIgetforyoutoday?” says Charles, the young man standing behind the counter at one of the ubiquitous McDonald’s fast-food restaurants sprinkled throughout the world.

I’m immediately flummoxed; presented with a myriad of photographs and words, everything begins to blur into a mass of confusion. Sensing my hesitation, and possibly worried that one of the people in his queue may be upset that the ordering rate has decreased due to this customer who isn’t prepared, Charles helpfully prods me with, “doyouhaveanyquestionsonthemenuIcanhelpyouwithsir?”

I just wanted a hamburger, and a few other items for my kids as we take a break to refuel the family on a road trip.

“There are too many choices,” I state – still staring up the menu futilely. Giving in to the pressure, I muster up the nerve to just order blind, ” just give me a hamburger with mustard and ketchup only, a cheeseburger with onions only and McChicken(tm) sandwich with no Mayo.”

Tap tap tap. Tap. Tap tappity tap tap goes Charles as he enters my order into his terminal.

“Wouldyouliketoaddanyfrieswiththat?” he asks.

“Oh, yeah” – Sam likes fries, “Give me a large fry and onion rings” I announce with authority.

Tap, tappity tap, pause, “we don’t have onion rings.” flatly states Charles – picking this moment to carefully enunciate each word with the tone and meter of a person explaining something obvious to his younger (and less smart) sibling.

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Help a local school get some great games

I recently had a customer (Erin) contact me regarding a contest she is part of. As a Librarian of the John R. Tibbott School in Bolingbrook, IL Erin recognizes the value of games as a social and educational medium. When Out Of The Box publishing began accepting nominations for worthy schools to receive $500 worth of games, Erin jumped at the opportunity and nominated her school by writing a proposal.

Erin’s proposal was one of 40 chosen of the thousands of entries received (good job Erin!).

Those 40 finalists are now part of…well basically, a popularity contest. Whichever organization receives the most (internet) votes throughout the month will receive the $500 game package. Voting is simple – the click of a mouse. I’m hoping that you all can help Erin bring some games to a school which is considered “low income” by state standards.

Click here and find John R. Tibbott School (Bolingbrook, IL) about 4 entries from the bottom. Select Erin’s school and hit submit. You can do it once per day per computer, so – in the great legacy of a Chicagoan, “Vote Early, Vote Often”!

Right now the running is tight – and I’ve watched as John R. Tibbott’s lead is shrinking. We at Fair Game love the idea of getting more games into schools – especially those schools who may not have the discretionary funds to purchase a game or two, so we are asking for your help.

As a little added incentive – those of you that vote for John R. Tibbott, let us know by logging into our forums (wait – you don’t have an account? No biggie – just register and we’ll get you approved super quick!) – find the thread about the school and post a response telling me you placed (at least) one vote (remember – more is better! try to do it once a day for the rest of November). Assuming that John R. Tibbott manages to keep (or grow!) their lead and pull off the win by the end of the month, we will pick one person randomly from the forum thread and award them a pair of custom Fair Game Dice!

As if that’s not sweet enough – to make the warm fuzzy feeling you will get after voting even fuzzier, if – no, WHEN – John R. Tibbott wins, Fair Game will donate one more game from our shelves – Erin’s choice!

Click and vote. It’s that simple.