Today I had the pleasure of talking to a fantastic group of teachers around the country. You can watch the webinar recording here:


Preparations for the Global Kids Civic Geocaching Program, a two-week summer intensive, began last week. The OLP staff headed out for the day to Prospect Park, in Brooklyn, to build our geocaching capacity. Beginning at the Brooklyn Public Library, with whom we are partnering on the project, we searched for three geocaches and had three successful finds:

Check out what teens in Playing 4 Keeps have to say about how being a game designer also allows them to explore other aspects of their identity, such as being an activist and creator.

Queena and Cindy guide us through the investigation.

It’s appropriate that on the eve of International Women’s Day these young ladies toured the streets of Seward Park with iPads in hand testing the mobile game they designed on women’s labor rights. Youth leaders Cindy and Queena along with Global Kids staff member Joliz Cedeño and librarian Johanna Lewis spent yesterday ensuring that the game – tentatively titled “Ghost and Found” – not only highlighted some of the interesting sights in the neighborhood but explored the history of the area through its characters. The narrative follows the detective on the hunt for a missing girl. Through his investigation he learns about the issues immigrant women faced finding safe working conditions in the early 1900s.

The girls wanted to make clear that these women fought for changes and due to their continued efforts, labor laws were changed to make sweatshop work illegal. However, since these issues still remain prevalent today, the youth decided to create a petition to urge the US garment industry to stop the use of sweatshops not only in their neighborhood but around the world.

Cindy and Queena have their first taste of the Doughnut Plant

The testing of the game was a positive experience as the girls were treated to their first time at the Doughnut Plant, checking out the Tenement Museum, and seeing the inside of the Essex Street Market where Mayor LaGuardia sent all the push carts of Hester Street in order to improve health conditions. Queena and Cindy were excited by the result of their hard work and can’t wait to showcase the game next week to the other youth at the Seward Park Library.

Queena guides us through the tragic tale of the Triangle Shirtwaist Fire

As the Global Kids Youth Leaders are set to launch their first Social Impact Game Design challenge with E-Line Media, we thought an example of their close collaboration would be of interest.

Below is the banner, designed by the youth within Gamestar Mechanic, that was shared with E-Line’s designers:


It shows two forces in confrontation and a protagonist caught in the middle, protecting the resources desired by the two.

Below is the final banner designed by the awesome crew at E-Line:


It was adapted for this button, as well:


The dedicated crew of comprised of Cindy, Queena, and Tiffany at the Seward Park Branch of the New York Public Library have been hard at work finalizing their game. With the aide of Global Kids staff member Joliz Cedeño and librarians Johanna Lewis and Anne Rouyer the young ladies have developed a rich layered game that highlights the history of women rights and labor from the early 1900s.

The story follows the detective on a quest to find a boy’s lost sister. Using research from various books and primary sources the girls took copious notes on historical events that could be incorporated as plot points. Early on the story of the 1911 Triangle Shirtwaist Factory Fire became the anchor for their game. Having discussed how immigrants are still being exploited in the neighborhood by being subjected to harsh working conditions, the youth felt passionate about educating their community on the difficulties faced by women and immigrants in the past and how despite the strides made by protests and change in policies – these issues continue today not only in Seward Park but worldwide.

Having chosen the topic the girls worked on developing the story, plotting out the areas of the neighborhood they wanted to highlight. Players would discover the Hester Street Market, see the location of the Tenement Museum and see the location where trolleys would travel through to take the young girls from their neighborhood to the west side of town to work in the factories. To place their own signature within the game, they introduced the detective writing case notes to take him from each location and allow the player to process each discovery through the detective’s eyes. The player is introduced to a few colorful characters including labor activist Rose Schneiderman who famously declared that “What the woman who labors wants is the right to live, not simply exist…the worker must have bread, but she must have roses, too.” It wasn’t just about earning your wages, you should have a safe proper environment to work in as well as time off. As a call to action the girls developed a petition to request that the United States Garment Industry stop the use of sweatshop practices worldwide.

Zachary Timm visited to shoot the opening video sequence with the girls as well as their call to action. With a very brief lesson on how to use Aris, the platform used for their game, Cindy and Queena took the initiative to begin coding some of the final dialog sequences the detective has. With the game close to being finalized we’re excited to test it out with others and showcase the amazing work done by this group of young people.

Cindy and Queena work together to code dialog in Aris.


In the Spring of 2011, Global Kids began working with the Epstein School in Atlanta, introducing them to the power, potential and perils of digital badging systems. Epstein identified nine subject areas to badge, and together we developed a strategy for running the badging system and rolling it out to the school in August, 2011.

Below is the mid-year report we delivered this past January to the funder, the Covenant Foundation. With the permission of both the school and Foundation, we share it below in the hopes of advancing our collective knowledge about the use of badging systems to support lifelong learning skills, both inside and outside formal educational settings.

Download file

To learn more about other badging programs at GK, please explore the links below:
Below are a number of resources which highlights Global Kids’ educational use of badges over the past three years:

  • Badges in an after school program (Media Masters at the High School for Global Citizenship) (video)
  • Badges in a library (New York Public Library)
  • Badges in a K-5 School
  • Badges in a museum (American Museum of National History)
  • Badges within Global Kids (article)
  • Badges overseas in Senegal based on Global Kids’ work.

Global Kids Leaders from MS 391 explored the neighborhood of Belmont, the Little Italy of the Bronx. With camera and iPads in hand they walked through the streets and talked with local vendors learning about how the neighborhood has changed in the last century. They sampled breadsticks from the local bakery and found that the residents were friendly and open to sharing their love for their community. Nilda Lopez and Danielle Youmeni of the Belmont Branch of the New York Public Library pulled books and videos for students to browse through and learn more about the area. They were fascinated that the library was once a movie theater and that cinema itself had a rich history there. After exploring students dined on local cuisine at Mario’s, a restaurant on Arthur Avenue that had been there for over a century. The meal was followed by a stroll through the Arthur Avenue Retail Market. The young people came away from the trip inspired and ready to share with their peers what they learned and could be beneficial to the game they will be creating.

Check out some of the photos from the trip!

Youth at the Hamilton Grange Library Branch have a rich history to pull from. Their neighborhood boasts the former residencies of such notable people as Alexander Hamilton, George Gershwin, Thurgood Marshall, Paul Robeson, W.E.B. DuBois, James Anthony Bailey and many more. The first four sessions of the program have consisted of students learning what Aris is, what makes good storytelling, researching the historical figures in their neighborhood and beginning to set the scene for the game they are intending on creating. Thus far the youth have toyed with the idea of giving our detective special powers such as possession of a live body. As far as the plot for the game that will showcase the history of Hamilton Grange, students have decided to go against the missing persons trend the other sites have developed and create a bank robbery scenario that needs to be solved. While the story is still in its infancy, we are excited to see how the students develop this tale.

Stephanie Duena of the Museum of the City of New York

Global Kids Leaders at MS 391 were treated to a special guest today when Stephanie Duena of the Museum of the City of New York paid a visit. She guided the students through a workshop on learning how to research a neighborhood through photo archives. The youth were able to see images over a century old depicting life in their neighborhood at the time.