November 3, 2008

ITEST Research Grant to Bring AgentSheets’ Scalable Game Design to Middle Schools

AgentSheets, Inc., an innovative Boulder-based technology company, has been recognized by the University of Colorado (CU) and the National Science Foundation (NSF) as uniquely positioned to help resolve the crisis in IT education. The NSF has awarded CU a $1.5 million-dollar research grant under the ITEST program. AgentSheets Inc. is a subcontractor to the grant, which will bring software and curriculum into middle school classrooms all over Colorado. Scalable Game Design is a unique approach pioneered by AgentSheets Inc. that allows students to learn both design and computer programming skills while participating in the motivating and rewarding task of designing and building their own computer games. Students will use AgentSheets, an advanced award-winning authoring software that has been shown to allow middle school students to program complete games in less than three hours while also allowing for the creation of advanced computational science applications.

Studies indicate that middle school students are making crucial career-path decisions and decreasing numbers are choosing to pursue technology careers. At risk especially are minority and female students. Enrollment in computer-science majors are declining at colleges and universities even as students become more adept at using high-tech gadgets, such as iPods, cell-phones, and multi-media applications. This gap identified by researchers and the NSF, puts the United States at risk to lose a position as a global technology and software innovator.

AgentSheest Inc. is an integral part of the ITEST team, which combines researchers from CU's Computer Science Department, School of Education, Science Discovery outreach program, and Upward Bound Program. The team will bring Scalable Game Design to middle schools throughout diverse regions of Colorado. The Boulder Valley School District will become a state-wide leader in this effort that brings software, teacher training, and STEM-based curriculum materials to Aurora Public Schools, schools served by the South Central BOCES (including the poorest school district in CO), and schools in Native American reservations. Science Discovery's special Mobile Technology Lab will be used to host training and technology outreach classes in rural and remote schools. Teachers as well as community and tribal college computer-science students from all over the state will also be brought to the University of Colorado for training.

AgentSheets Inc., founded in Boulder, CO in 1996, is a leading provider of educational authoring environments for game design and computational science. In addition to thousands of individual users, large-scale projects use AgentSheets software locally, nationally, and internationally. AgentSheets Inc. and its software have received many awards, including the 2008 "Colorado Top Tech Education Initiative" APEX award and has been showcased as exemplary educational technology at the National Academy of Sciences and ACM1 as one of the "best of the best innovators."

For more information about ITEST, AgentSheets, or to schedule/attend a demonstration of AgentSheets software, please contact Corrina Smith, Education Liason, at 303-530-1773, or email [email protected]