About this project
"We really like the approach these folks are taking, getting next generation learning techniques into the hands of kids when they're ready for it, and helping bridge the gap between ABC apps and pro tools."—Wired's GeekDad
"This Kickstarter looks cool. Science apps and a new kind of education for kids."—Nick Bilton, author and New York Times Bits Blog writer
"Tornado Maker Deserves Your Support. For the Future of Gaming."—Jourdan Cameron, Batman'n Robin
"This team of scientists, educators, game developers and moms is set on creating a series of games to cover the science behind violent storms, bionic machines, and biological functions. The first game promises to explain how tornadoes are formed better than your local news station meteorologist."—EdSurge
“This makes science awesome! I wish I had these apps growing up.” —Mike Sacks, HuffPost LIVE
"All of their fun educational apps are based on generative instruction and have a high 'cool' factor that will engage even reluctant tweens."—The Maker Mom
"The goal is to spark kids brains and create the next generation of scientists. . . . It takes money to create scientists and Outthink Inc. needs your help."—Jennifer Wagner, Connect With Your Teens blog
**Android fans, we haven't forgotten about you! A non-iOS Tornado Maker is on our roadmap but just isn't within the scope of this Kickstarter "project." Rest assured that we'll make Tornado Maker available for more devices as soon as we can!**
Check out Outthink's Alex and Amy discussing why they want to see these products in the marketplace.
Right now, kids are taught with yesterday’s instructional materials.
Dry textbooks, overcrowded classrooms, teaching to the test—it all adds up to confused and frustrated kids who aren’t learning a subject that’s critical to our future: science.
We want to disrupt science learning by taking the addictive power of games, the explosive growth of tablets and cell phones, and a proven learning science called Generative Instruction (GI).
How proven? One private school for struggling kids in Seattle that uses GI promises a full refund on tuition if a student doesn’t advance at least two grade levels in any academic year in their area of greatest weakness. In the school’s thirty-two years, less than 1% of tuitions have been refunded.
And we’re starting with one of the most exciting subjects in the world—natural disasters. If you watched Hurricane Sandy or the last tsunami or even The Wizard of Oz, you know how mesmerizing the subject is—and with the accelerating effects of climate change, scientists say weather is just going to get even more wild and dramatic.
Why We Need You
Gaming experts have told us that parents won’t be interested in our apps because they’ve already handed learning responsibility over to schools. VCs have told us that parents aren’t interested in teaching their kids science.
But we believe that the digital world is evolving at an explosive rate. Adults understand that science is a crucial engine of innovation for the next generation.
We’ve been self-funded so far, putting our savings into instructional design, alignment with Common Core, research, prototyping, testing, and partnerships. As teachers, gamers, and geek parents, we want better learning products for kids. As fledgling entrepreneurs, we need to rally all of you who agree and ask you to vote with your wallets.
Our key differentiator is guaranteed learning powered by an instructional design method, Generative Instruction, that has delivered accelerated results with a money-back guarantee for more than thirty years. But our hook for kids is that we unlock the FUN and POWER of being smart. We've planned an entire series that accomplishes both of the above; we just need your help to finish building it.
By backing us, you're not just making this app possible. You're standing up and saying the combination of science and mobile technology can be a game-changer for our kids.
Thank you for your support!
In the not-too-distant future, natural disasters have increased in frequency, unleashing a terrifying wave of death and destruction. Top scientists have joined forces to launch an undercover operation to protect the planet. They’re recruiting a team of super-smart kids to join them. Together they’re called The Secret Global Science Alliance. And they’ve chosen you.
Your first mission: Make it through tornado boot camp, a series of challenges where you master the science behind how twisters are formed. Once you’ve tackled critical concepts such as mass and volume, you’ll be sent to wrangle your very own tornado, watch it grow and then wreak havoc on everything in its path, until you’ve earned the rank of Tornado Maker.
Next, you’ll take on the role of storm chaser, pursuing a ferocious tornado and rescuing frantic townspeople and animals from danger.
It’s so much fun, you and your kids will be fighting over who gets to play (don’t worry, we won’t tell).
Working with real scientists and teachers, we’ve planned a continuing suite, including:
- Violent Earth: Hurricanes (just in time for hurricane season!), Earthquakes, Tsunamis, and Volcanoes
- Bionic Builders: Cyborgs, Drones, Pet-omatons, Bug-bots, Robo-cars
- EarthWorks: Cells, Body systems, Organisms, Evolution, Ecosystems
Each app is tested with as many kids as it takes to ensure that we get both the learning and the experience right: no frustration, no boredom, only challenges, breakthroughs, and a-ha! moments.
Now is your chance to play Science Hero. By backing us on Kickstarter, we’ll be able to complete our first app, Tornado Maker.
In return, you and your kids will become members of the Secret Global Science Alliance, a community of parents, kids, teachers, and scientists. In the Alliance you’ll be part of our products as we build them—everything from designs to game flow, story, characters, and more!
You’ll also get some amazing, geek-tastic swag:
We've come too far to stop now!
So far, we've:
- Tested prototypes and game design with more than 40 kids (we’ll have worked with over 60 by the end of the year and several hundred by the time the app is finished);
- Consulted with real storm scientists at the Severe Storm Center in Norman, Oklahoma, to ensure accuracy and cutting-edge information;
- Worked with the State of NY Technology Coordinator to identify pilot testing for schools in important education states—NY, FL, TX, CA, AL—so that real classrooms will continue to shape our product;
- Designed our games with a top developer responsible for hits like Ratchet & Clank and the Spyro series.
About Outthink Inc.
After 14 years in digital publishing, founder, former teacher, and mom of four Andrea Sheehan created Outthink to address the need for products that use technology to truly teach. She put together an all-star team of instructional designers, scientists, and developers who share a single vision: creating engaging learning experiences that help children become the confident, capable game-changers of tomorrow.
Andrea Sheehan has played many roles over the years: teacher, web expert, digital strategist, mobile app developer, and mom of four. Now, as the founder of Outthink, she’s combining all of these things into one role: making mobile products that will help kids overcome life’s challenges.
In his prior life, technology lover extraordinaire Alex Kaminsky built massive websites for A-list clients in the advertising realm. Now he’s making a real impact on the world as the chief architect of Outthink’s products.
Melinda Sota is a true learning rocket scientist and one of the few Generative Instruction experts worldwide. Prior to her role as learning scientist at Outthink, she helped produce the award-winning Headsprout Reading Comprehension Program as well as the Mimio Interactive Teaching Technologies whiteboard series.
Amy Cloud loves storytelling in all its forms, and has more than twelve years of media experience to show for it. At Callaway Digital Arts she helped develop award-winning apps for kids and grownups, and prior to that, she edited books on everything from Madonna to President Obama to friendly talking bugs and robots.
Sujata Bhatt is a superstar teacher (LA Unified School District), writer (The Huffington Post, The Los Angeles Times, The Washington Post), and mom. At Outthink she applies her unique expertise in technology, science, and creative instruction to developing truly revolutionary learning products.
Risks and challenges
Outthink has a uniquely connected team of domain experts in education, learning science, media, digital technology, and design. We also have an incredible network of supporters and advisors helping us accomplish our goal, from Apple, the BBC, and Microsoft Studios to the NY State Department of Education, NOAA, and more. This combination of experienced team and advisors will allow us to tackle the bumps and hurdles that always accompany digital learning product development.
Our development schedule is aggressive, and we've built in testing cycles that will inform each stage of the app, to ensure it delivers promised learning outcomes while providing the engagement kids love. We are targeting testing schools in powerful education states—Texas, Florida, New York, California—whose population is directly affected by our natural disaster subject matter: tornadoes, hurricanes, and earthquakes. While optimistic, we can't guarantee that we will be able to set up a pilot program in every state. Since we must deliver results first and foremost, it's possible that testing may affect our release schedule. However, our entire team has deadline-driven user-testing experience, and we know we can master this challenge.Learn about accountability on Kickstarter
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