13 Yr. Old CEO of Innovative Educational Gaming Company

Elementeo(Repost from 06/11/2007)

Event Tags: FOL2013, hgsepzfol

Anshul Samar is the CEO of Elementeo, a startup company seeking to combine fun and learning. This article provides an overview of the company’s goals, video of Anshul’s CEO speech, and a description of the company’s first game which teaches chemistry through a role-playing board game.

This is interesting to me on many different levels. Watching the video of Anshul’s CEO speech gives me the impression that this may have actually been a class project. Regardless, couldn’t a student activity like this be the jumping-off point for effectively integrating technology with teaching and learning?

  1. How many content areas/topics/objectives/skills would this kind of activity include? I’ve noticed 1) math, business and economics, 2) science/chemistry, 3) art and graphic design, 4) language arts, 5) perhaps copyright and patents, 6) ……???
  2. If this was a class project, do you think that the teacher could have ever imagined that this would be the result?
  3. Elementeo is seeking to put the fun back into learning. Has education taken the fun out of learning? It seems that these students think so. What does that tell those of us that are teachers?
  4. If this is not a class project and Anshul and his friends did this of their own initiative then perhaps we, as teachers, should reconsider what it is that we have our students doing. I suggest that a traditional lesson/unit on entrepreneurship would likely not teach students nearly as much about the world of business (and the other aforementioned content areas) as this activity likely did.
  5. While students weren’t necessarily playing games but rather developing games, this could be an example of effectively bringing gaming into the classroom and integrating it with the curriculum.
  6. Let’s begin to consider all the elements of effective teaching and learning (according to today’s research) that might possibly be identified in a class project like this. Such an activity might include 1) problem solving, 2) discovery learning, 3) legitimate peripheral participation and/or authentic/situated/contextual teaching and learning, 4) communities of practice, 5) collaboration, 6) project management (for those instructional designers among us), 7) ……???

I think this could be a rich discussion. Please, please chime in.

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Clif Mims is a Christian, husband, father, teacher, cancer warrior, and fan of the Mississippi State Bulldogs and Memphis Grizzlies.

27 thoughts on “13 Yr. Old CEO of Innovative Educational Gaming Company”

  1. It is certainly a very interesting thing to think about as technology has become more and more prevalent in society, and education has taken on this massive undertaking in using technology to teach while not being distracting. I love where Anshul’s company started from, and the goal behind it. I would also love to see games used more in classrooms, whether by the students developing it or by them just using it to capture their interest. It certainly strikes a thought in the teacher to improve on our everyday lessons with not ways that we learned as students, but ways that these students want to learn.

  2. This success story is exactly what the education community needs! Chemistry, physics, and biology are subjects that a tough subjects to learn and having tools developed by students to improve student learning is quite incredible. Entrepreneurship is a subject that is increasingly gaining traction in education and in the professional environment. It’s really inspiring to see this kind of educational development and revenue potential to be gained at such an early age.

  3. If this was a school project, I’m sure the teacher did not expect this to happen. However, it just proves that if we can get students excited about learning, the possibilities are endless! Children are very creative naturally, but using the same methods of teaching over and over does not foster that creativity. Looking back on my own childhood, I remember the teachers who thought outside the box. Something as simple as playing vocabulary bingo has stuck in my mind. Any time we can make learning fun, interactive, and get the students excited, learning will take place!

  4. This is so cool, especially since it was started by a student himself! It is amazing what children can do and teach themselves with a little guidance. I agree that games should try to be incorporated as often as possible to keep the students engaged. It is such an easy way to assess your students’ learning and progress without formal testing.

    1. This invention, whether it was developed as a group or by himself, is exactly what’s needed in K-12 education. Entrepreneurship is growing as a lifestyle and seeing student, especially at this age, is encouraging because of the examples to be set and the revenue to be generated. Clearly, students are taking their education in their own hands, which is a task that parents and educators alike appreciate and wish more students would do more of. And considering the subject, chemistry, biology, physics, etc., these kinds of developments are much appreciated and offer a great deal of learning potential.

  5. That game is so neat. My son would love it (may be once he is a little older). That is an awesome idea and kids love games. In my high school Sociology class, the teacher created a vocabulary game that was kind of like a game show. We would work in groups and run to the board to write the definition or word. We would play the game every Thursday before the test. The winning group would get 5 bonus points on the test the next day. The loosing group would loose 5 points. This was a while ago and you probably couldn’t get away with is as a teacher in a public school anymore, but was fun. And I remember a lot of terms that help me even now.

    When I taught middle school, we had these clickers, that were a beginning technology then. I have heard now that they are pretty sophisticated now. I think this is one way to bringing gaming to the classroom. My son is only 5 years old, but he would love it if his teacher played more games with them. He learns really fast that way, too. I know it is not for everyone, but there are some kids out there that like that sort of thing and I think it would be great for those types of learners to have more exposure to games like this young fellow has created.

  6. The key for me as a teacher is to get kids excited about anything I teach in class. It can be chemistry, math, physical education, geography, Spanish,… If you know what kind of game to look for, Internet/video/online games can be a powerful tool to help students develop certain skills. Additionally, it helps educators seek ways to supplement classroom teaching. We just have to find and look for all different possibilities that the Web can offer us.

  7. I absolutely love games! So incorporating games into learning is icing on a cake! Don’t get me wrong, I still think that general education lectures and lessons are important. But incorporating games into learning is super fun and exciting. I think as educators, we tend to take the fun out of learning without even knowing it. Our lessons and worksheets become so stagnant that our students become bored and restless. Way to go Anshul Samar for following your dreams and seeking out your ideas!!

  8. This is a great idea! It not only builds on student interest, but it also makes learning fun. (Isn’t that the whole premise of education to make LEARNING FUN!) It also allows students to engage and build personal experience through game play. As stated in your guided discussion questions I feel that it seems logical that students are engaged and excited about the content/topic associated with gaming video, it would make sense to emphasis this medium. Education has changed and with technology the traditional “lecture” style is no longer appropriate for all settings. Likewise, the lecture style may not be sufficiently engaging for the students. With these technological advancements we have opened the door for further creativity, in an area, which I find in my experience, is lacking. This game is another educational tool for students to develop and explore.

  9. I think teaching skills, rather than content, is gaining more ground in our schools. Dartmouth College announced it was no longer accepting AP classes(http://www.huffingtonpost.com/2013/01/17/dartmouth-college-ending-_0_n_2496662.html). Google no longer hiring the cream of the crop if college graduates (http://www.businessinsider.com/google-hiring-non-graduates-2013-6). I think these examples point to this growing trend, in which being good at school doesn’t necessarily mean students will be good in life, and more specifically good in work. Employers are looking for skills like critical thinking, problem solving, and ‘grit’-being able to overcome obstacles, see failure as a integral part of success, etc. However, I wonder how long it will take to filter down to our schools? I recently signed a petition ask that Shelby County Schools not cut funding to foreign language programs (http://www.wmctv.com/story/25043848/students-teachers-will-not-give-up-the-fight-for-foreign-language). Being able to speak a foreign language is more than the ability to communicate, in teaches students to be global citizens and be able complete in a global market, it also, when done well, teaches higher order thinking skills.

  10. This reminded me a lot of the 6th grade teacher that used a role-playing game as classroom management (http://www.kotaku.com.au/2012/03/how-one-teacher-turned-sixth-grade-into-an-mmo/).

    I think using gaming in all forms can be incredibly beneficial to learning. Not only can it lead to more engagement, it can also promote creative thinking. Games allow us to take a look at problem from a completely different viewpoint. With Elementeo, you’re looking to defeat an opponent; That’s the main goal of the game. The knowledge of chemistry that you must gain to successfully defeat an opponent ends up being an amazing bonus. By playing this game, you learn to combine elements in creative ways to defeat an enemy, but you’re also learning how these same chemical interactions work in real life. As a middle school teacher and former student, I know that my former students and I would be happier to learn chemistry by playing this game than by reading a book or listen to a teacher give direct instruction for 55 minutes.

    If students are to create educational games, this gives them the opportunity to explore how the would have liked to learn a new subject, and I think that’s incredibly cool. Very rarely (even today) do students get to be in charge of how they learn, an by designing an effective educational game, they can be!

  11. This company is a great idea! Who better to lead a gaming company designed to produce fun games targeting young learners than a young learner. With games, the possibilities are endless. The same game can be used to teach multiple content areas and address numerous standards. Taking something that students enjoy, like gaming, and incorporating it into the learning process is a nature fit. It’s a shame that this isn’t the norm in education.

  12. To begin with, I would just like to say that this is AMAZING!!! From many different perspectives, the age 13 constitutes a human being as a child. With this in mind, the term “child” implies not being fully developed or equipped to make major decisions of their own and to just absorb the academic curriculum that schools so often promote in their institutions. Basically to become a reproduction of citizens to understand, follow, and obey based on societal “norms” or rather expectations. My question would be what inspired Anshul to break away from the norm of just going to school and doing his classwork? Was it something he always wanted to do? Was he financially equipped to spend time and money on this game? Was their pressure from his parents or peers? Did he just really love games? Or more importantly, did an educator BELIEVE in him enough to promote their own love of learning that lead to his success at such a young age? Now, by no means am I saying it was an educator that “made” Anshul a CEO of a company, but what if his inspiration, dedication, motivation, or determination was sparked by an educator. I noticed that many people said that school has become boring etc but is it school that has become boring or is it the way we are teaching our children? Educators that value children, play, creativity, and imagination in the classroom could be the difference in how children perceive school. Due to the rapid changes in technology and the endless possibilities of its uses, technology integration shouldn’t be a what if question, it should be a how am I going to use this tool to enhance and inspire children?! On another note, I read the blog from Anshul about his recent New Year’s evening and it was very intriguing. He spent his night at a retreat in silence. From his experience Anshul stated that silence is beautiful and deeply apart of you and that the peace from the serenity can help a person beyond belief. Just from my brief exposure to Anshul and his positive outlook on life, I am filled with happiness to know that this one citizen of society took a chance on a dream and succeeded!!!!

  13. I agree that this can be a useful tool for teachers. However, there are some scenarios where using games in the classroom can be argued. It is unclear how patient with ADHD can be affected by this type of stimulus.

    Emerging association between addictive gaming and attention-deficit/hyperactivity disorder.
    Curr Psychiatry Rep. 2012 Oct;14(5):590-7. doi: 10.1007/s11920-012-0311-x.

  14. School can be so boring at times. For all ages. I like that educational games are used to stimulate the mind. Keeping kids entertained will help to improve the outcome of learning. I think that games should be incorporated into learning as long as they are benefiting the lessons.

  15. School has become boring to the students. I remember my first day on the job all excited about pouring into these young people and was told that I had to teach to the test. My enthusiasm went out the door. I thought to myself I was going to be bored and I know the kids will be as well. My goal became to make school fun for students again and incorporate technology into the classroom since this is what they are around when they are not in school.

    Here is another video that goes along with some of your comments: http://www.youtube.com/watch?feature=player_embedded&v=zDZFcDGpL4U

  16. I am constantly trying to incorporate games into the lessons I design for my children. I wanted to take a course in video game design during the summer on Ed2go. I will pass this post on to my son and daughter because they like games of all kinds, electronic to board and strangly enough they love to read as well. I believe in the importance of all forms of learning and technology will allow us to increase those forms exponentially.

  17. I think this is a great article- and I followed Daniel A. Taylor’s link (thanks Daniel) to the Elemento website. Awesome idea of a student taking the initiative to create an educational game- not every student is equipped with all of the attributes of embarking on this monumental task- but think about the possibilities if students had time and the teacher served to facilitate this kind of creativity while learning instead of teaching to “the test”… The opportunities to create lifelong learners would be astounding!

  18. An ingenious idea! Done right, this could be very entertaining for sure.

    The story linked was from 2007, so I was curious if Elementeo has been a success. Please see the following links.

    Presenting Elementeo’s website.

    The game is available as an app on your iPhone too.

    The young CEO is now a Freshman at Stanford.

    It looks like this is getting some good buzz. I wonder if any teachers have suggested this game for their students yet.

  19. I am impressed and inspired! Anshul’s story really highlights the importance of giving students opportunities to be playful and creative in the classroom. By giving them some control over how, when, and where they learn, they become personally invested in the learning process. Likewise, allowing students to learn by playing (as in designing/developing games) is an excellent way to foster creativity and critical thinking/ problem-solving skills.

  20. Teaching and learning should look different than it did years ago before the age of technology. It is fascinating to read about a 13-year-old who was given the liberty to be innovative in his thinking which reminds me of project based learning where the experiences are real-world, relevant, and meaningful. Why shouldn’t learning be fun? I would love for my students to explore gaming as a means for educating, where they can be the teachers as well as the learner. Design thinking opportunities brings out the innovation in everyone. The students just need the opportunity to explore, discover, and create. Gaming is mainstream outside of school, so it makes sense to me to make it present as a part of learning when they are in school. A take-away for me is how students who are creating gaming for education are a part of the developing side as they create the games which would in essence make them the teachers. Taking on both roles definitley solidifies understanding of the content and the learning process.

  21. It’s a shame that so many teachers and kids think of learning and fun as separate concepts. When I ask kids if they are excited about starting school in the fall or going back after break, they often groan and say no.

    I read a book called The Last Lecture a few years ago. The author was a computer science professor and worked with computer programing games and animations. One of the things he worked on was a project where students/gamers would put together their game, piece by piece, but were learning to code as they progressed. I think he called it stealth learning.

    Thanks for the post.

  22. I have to agree that in today’s educational world, learning is not near as fun as it used to be. I remember loving school because it was fun. There were games and projects, and I could be creative and use my crazy imagination. I became a teacher, so that I could make learning fun for students because that’s what school meant to me. When I got to student teaching, however, it was very to the point/have to get the scores.. read a chapter, do this worksheet, take a test, repeat. I was told that there wasn’t time to do arts and crafts projects, or time to use games. It was like Groundhogs Day all over again. I was bored just being there, so I can’t imagine how the kids felt. I think there are many games that could be incorporated into learning to make things fun again. If the students are having fun and learning, then the attitudes, motivation, and need to thrive will change and grow. With the forms of instruction and everchanging growth in technology, there are definite ways to make learning fun again.

    1. Hi Jordan, I agree with your thoughts on learning . . . games are terrific practice tools for knowledge skills, if you are not familiar with these an example is academicskillbuilders.com. And there are so many content enriching introduction and assessment tools, i.e Brainpop. It will take some guideline setting and student practice to use these sites effectively, but it is worth the effort as students actually do engage in an appropriate challenge and develop from the content and practice offered by these websites. good luck!

  23. First, how interesting this concept is! As a 4th grade teacher, students ages 9-10, I had the opportunity to propose regional conference presentations for our students. Student engagement in wanting to create meaningful and continually improved products was amazing to everyone in the community. I had no idea what would come of my collaboration with a parent who was skilled at IT as we worked throughout the summer to pull cable overhead and eventually add a wireless router, and I will never forget the enthusiasm for richer learning and peer learning that occurred as a result. One group of students’ work was very impressive and innovative, and had I considered the community outside of the classroom environment the video products that they made to reinforce classroom learning would have made a wonderful project like this. Still learning, thanks for sharing this

  24. I love the idea of intergrating technology into the classroom through games. The students today are more digitally advanced than many adults, so using games to reach the students is an excellent way to get them involved in their learning.

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