It’s A Race Against the Clock to bring STEM-based bilingual education to preschools in Dorchester and Roxbury
Boston City Councilor Tito Jackson and Kickstarter Project
Boston, MA – December 2, 2012 – Vicky Wu Davis, serial entrepreneur and videogame industry veteran, teamed up with former University Professor Waipeng Lee and Lillian Dai, PhD MIT, to create Peach Ice Cream Adventures (PICA). The three moms wanted a fun way to teach their kids a new language so they combined determination with language and technical expertise to create an immersive, engaging second-language learning tool for children under six called PICA.
But the need for this tool extended beyond their immediate needs. Boston City Councillor Tito Jackson understood that and has championed their efforts. He is spearheading incorporation of the early language immersion, STEM-based adventure game to preschools, K1, and K2 classrooms in District 7.
With an innovation and global economy rising, both STEM (Science Technology Engineering Math) education and second-language learning have been deemed extremely valuable in fostering job-readiness. One-to-four-year-old children are particularly receptive to learning math and logic; the golden years for acquiring language are to five. These disciplines and their early learning are complementary and Peach Ice Cream Adventures uses the perfect link between early childhood STEM and second-language learning by combining multiple goals that connect the seemingly disparate learning objectives. It would be great to expose our youngest learners in the community to Chinese while also helping the 46% of students in Councillor Jackson’s District whose primary spoken language is Spanish. Ultimately, the PICA Project would allow us to complement all second-language pre-school, k-1 and k-2 learners’ education.
But Councilor Jackson is racing against the clock – PICA’s Kickstarter campaign to raise at least $60,000 ends December 17. If successful, PICA will be developed in Mandarin Chinese, French, and Spanish for the iPad. If Tito’s stretch goal of $70,000 is met, then the PICA project will also be developed for Android.
With $70,000, Councilor Jackson will run a pilot program in preschools-K in Boston District 7 starting summer 2013 because Isabella Products will donate their Android-based tablets to preschools and kindergartens in Roxbury and Dorchester preloaded with Peach Ice Cream Adventures in Chinese and Spanish. There is a strong connection between socioeconomic circumstances and a child’s academic success. Knowledge delays in the early years – unless something is done about it – follows children into their later years, leading to a growing academic achievement gap.
“That $70,000 Kickstarter fundraising goal,” says Tito, “will provide access to fun tools for mastering languages integral to my community – Spanish and Chinese. PICA is an amazing immersive language experience and teaches science. It’s a great STEM resource for my Spanish speakers.” “Usually kids from underserved communities have limited or even no access to the latest tools, but Vicky, her Kickstarter project, Matthew Growney and Isabella Products, and I are determined to make positive change and provide the best access, products, and opportunity to the kids in District 7.”
Matthew I. Growney, founder and CEO of Isabella Products, agrees. “Isabella is pleased to partner with PICA on this campaign to provide an incredible learning tool to Dorchester and Roxbury schools. Fable, our new tablet, with the PICA app will enhance the learning experience of young children and teachers alike.” “Moreover, PICA engages and stimulates students to learn important language comprehension through gamification” says Nancy Hamilton, Content Manager for Isabella and former 8th grade teacher. “We believe PICA can provide new applications using its gamification platform for future education segments and, as a former teacher, I love the interaction between using PICA as a language tool as well as a STEM tool!”
Councillor Tito Jackson has offered to have dinner in Boston with anyone who pledges $4,500 or more to the Peach Ice Cream Adventures Kickstarter campaign. In addition, every $4,500 pledger will be invited to the special Ribbon Cutting Ceremony in celebration of meeting the $70,000 goal. Pledge today at:
About City Councillor Tito Jackson
Tito H. Jackson is the Boston City Councillor for District 7. He was elected with 82% of the vote during a Special Election. In November of 2011, the 85% of the voters in District 7 selected Councillor Jackson for a full two-year term. Mr. Jackson was raised in the Grove Hall section of Roxbury and is a proud life-long resident of District 7, which includes all of Roxbury and parts of the South End, Dorchester, Jamaica Plain and the Fenway. In 2007, Councillor Jackson became the Industry Director for Information Technology at Governor Deval Patrick’s Executive Office of Housing and Economic Development where he focused his energies on creating and sustaining jobs within Massachusetts and helping local businesses grow. Councillor Jackson is now the Chair of the Post Audit and Oversight Committee, and Vice Chair of the Education Committee. Councillor Jackson is a much sought after public speaker at career days, motivational seminars and community events. In this capacity, he addresses youth development issues, such as how to better motivate young people to pursue careers in STEM (Science Technology Engineering and Math) Education.
About Isabella Products
Isabella Products, Inc. is a leading mobile device company developing a family of connected wireless products that enrich and entertain your everyday life. Through its VizitMe content management service, Isabella effectively and securely delivers and manages real-time content experiences among a portfolio of innovative products including Fable, it’s soon-to-be-released children’s tablet. Isabella Products is led by a world-class management team with deep experience in the mobile and consumer electronics industries. For more information, please visit: http://www.isabellaproducts.com.
About The PICA Project
Peach Ice Cream Adventures (PICA) is a second-language learning tool delivered through an interactive tablet-based adventure. Designed specifically for 3-6 year olds, PICA is a gamified digital slice of a successful Early Education program that engages students in Mandarin Chinese within the context of science exploration and STEM principles. PICA facilitates greater development and command of a fuller range of linguistic, abstract, and discrete problem-solving capabilities than other educational methods and curricula. PICA will be offered in Chinese, French, Spanish and will incorporate ESL for Chinese and Spanish speakers in later versions. Learn more and have fun with PICA. For more information go towww.froghop3.net/peachicecream.
Councillor Tito Jackson
Vicky Wu Davis
Connecting the Dots: Tito Jackson, Leland Cheung, Vicky Wu Davis and Thought Leaders Gather at TechStars Boston
Roundtable to Discuss STEM, Multilingualism, and Future Job-Readiness
Boston, MA – November 26, 2012 – Vicky Wu Davis, Boston City Councilor Tito Jackson, and Cambridge City Councilor Leland Cheung will co-host an exclusive roundtable discussion this Tuesday, November 27th at TechStars Boston in Kendall Square. The event is part of a special celebration for the launch of The PICA Project’s Kickstarter campaign. Local thought leaders in education, culture, diversity, and technology will gather for a broader discussion about ways to foster early interests, skills, and talents in today’s youth that will prove important for job-readiness and social acculturation, particularly because our nation continues to become more linguistically and culturally diverse and STEM education becomes increasingly important.
Peter Keating, Epiphany School Trustee; Patrick Supanc, President of Alleyoop and President of College and Career Readiness at Pearson Education; Jean Hammond of Hub Angels; Robert Magin, CEO of Jenzabar; Meredith Rosenberg, Cornell Trustee; Malia Lazu, Director Boston Future; Andrew Johnson, President of TenMarks; and robotics and AI expert Dr. Ian Davis will join other innovators, entrepreneurs, educators, cultural specialists, diversity experts, and corporate thought leaders for a spirited discussion about how out-of-school activities, technology resources, and entrepreneurship can help schools and teachers reach standards-based goals.
Vicky Wu Davis, serial entrepreneur and videogame veteran, just launched a Kickstarter Campaign for The PICA Project. Peach Ice Cream Adventures (PICA) is a second-language learning tool delivered through an engaging and interactive tablet-based adventure. Designed specifically for 3-6 year olds, PICA is a gamified digital slice of a successful Early Education program that engages students in Mandarin Chinese within the context of science exploration and STEM principles. Because PICA is built from an existing technology platform any game created with it can be offered in multiple languages. Based on varying Kickstarter fundraising goals, PICA will be offered in Chinese, French, Spanish, ESL for Spanish-speakers, and German.
Inspired by Vicky’s vision of how The PICA Project and other supplementary methods and technology can work with schools and government officials to reach various learning goals, Boston City Councilor Jackson and Cambridge City Councilor Cheung agreed to co-host this celebration and discussion.
This Connecting the Dots Roundtable has several aims: to illustrate the connection between such seemingly disparate learning objectives as STEM and second-language learning in order to recognize they are complementary; introducing and connecting educators of different age groups so they can discuss the links between and needs of different educational phases; and connecting current benchmarks of college and job readiness to educational transformation. Standardized tests and college-readiness are benchmarks that shouldn’t be thrown aside, but whatever we do with our early learners must work with K-12 and beyond: early learners will continue to progress to the next phase. By sharing personal experiences and desires, teachers, innovators, and entrepreneurs can connect the dots between current institutions and government to find potential and ways to develop it.
About The PICA Project
Peach Ice Cream Adventures (PICA) is a second-language learning tool delivered through an interactive tablet- based adventure. Designed specifically for 3-6 year olds, PICA is a gamified digital slice of a successful Early Education program that engages students in Mandarin Chinese within the context of science exploration and STEM principles. Asking more from children than simple memorization and standardized test-taking improves their understanding and enjoyment: PICA facilitates greater development and command of a fuller range of linguistic, abstract, and discrete problem-solving capabilities than other educational methods and curricula. Learn more and have fun with PICA. For more information go to www.froghop3.net/peachicecream
All media interested in attending this Roundtable discussion should contact Vicky Wu Davis at:
Vicky Wu Davis
Tablet app to teach languages
Teacher hits Kickstarter to make game
Boston Herald, Marie Szaniszlo, November 27, 2012
Vicky Wu Davis has always wanted her son to embrace his heritage, but a year ago, when he was 3, he began to shun all things Chinese.
So when Wu Davis developed the Adalia Enrichment Program, a weekly class in Andover that teaches children ages 2 to 6 Mandarin Chinese through storytelling, play and scientific discovery.
“I didn’t want glorified flash cards,” she said. “If you wrap it up in fun things, they don’t even realize they’re learning another language.” By making ice cream from scratch, for example, the children learn in Chinese about water, solids, temperature and taste.
They also learn how plants grow and how bees make honey. They dance to Chinese songs. And in milder weather, they go on treasure hunts. It’s a formula that has paid dividends. Wu Davis’ son now teaches her husband Mandarin.
But while other children in her class also have flourished, their parents, some of whom speak only English, often ask her how they can reinforce at home what their children learn in class.
Last week, Wu Davis, a serial entrepreneur, launched a Kickstarter campaign to raise $60,000 by Dec. 17 to fund Peach Ice Cream Adventures, the first of several planned language learning games for tablets.
Built from an existing technology platform, PICA is designed for 3- to 6-year-olds and comes with a dashboard to allow parents to watch their children’s play and switch languages.
Like Adalia, it teaches language by spiraling: Children cycle back to prior words and build vocabulary through repeated use in different contexts.
“Having no Chinese background, we would love to have some way for us to learn together as a family,” said Juliet Correll Wright, whose 4 1⁄2-year-old daughter, Willow, takes Wu Davis’ class. “PICA would reinforce what she’s learned and would engage her with technology in a meaningful and purposeful way.”
Correll Wright wants her daughter to learn Chinese because it has becoming an increasingly important language as China has become an economic powerhouse, and she feels there’s a narrow window of opportunity for children to naturally pick up another language.
Waipeng Lee, another Andover parent, signed on to develop the content for PICA after enrolling her own 5-year-old daughter in Wu Davis’ class.
“With an application, she would be able to learn (Chinese) any time,” said Lee, 45. “I feel like if my daughter can be more independent using an app, she’ll be more confident speaking Chinese.”
As of Friday, 90 people had pledged a total of nearly $5,000 to fund the Kickstarter campaign. If Wu Davis exceeds her goal and raises $70,000, she and her team will develop an Android version of PICA. And if she raises $120,000, they will develop a Spanish version.
Terrific Trifecta Launch Kickstarter Campaign for PICA
Three Moms Champion New STEM-based Second-Language Learning Game
Boston, MA – November 19, 2012 – Today marks the launch of an exciting Kickstarter campaign to fund Peach Ice Cream Adventures (PICA), the first of many intended new language-learning games for tablets. PICA enables second-language learning with an engaging, interactive tablet-based adventure game. Designed specifically for three- to six-year olds, PICA brings to digital form a successful early education program that engages students in Mandarin Chinese contextually through science and exploration. Built from an existing technology platform, PICA’s parental dashboard allows parents to view their children’s play and switch languages, for example, from Chinese to Spanish or French.
Successful serial entrepreneur Vicky Wu Davis and her two partners, also moms with PhDs, understand that raising bilingual children is increasingly important throughout the world but is best started early. Early bi- lingual learners typically gain profound cultural knowledge, develop mature interpersonal skills, and enjoy a rich personal awareness of family history and linguistic nuance sooner than mono-linguistic peers. Children learn especially well when they’re having fun or aren’t focused on learning, but critical language-learning ends at seven. As Vicky said, “Looking for something for my then-three-year-old, I saw that most language- learning tools are passive, not contextual, or for older kids. So I made a Chinese Immersion Program. PICA is the digital curriculum for people who want to enjoy learning another language or keep theirs in the family.”
Using the best of early education learning programs and game design, PICA links Chinese language development to scientific experimentation by spiraling: children cycle back or build vocabulary through repeated use in different contexts. Using science experiments to reinforce linguistic development plays to a child’s curiosity. Scientific discovery is part of an appealing story – this immersion enables children to master the content and become functionally bilingual. This successful gamification of STEM and language lessons results in fast, enjoyable learning with superior retention of new material and mastery of previously learned elements that puts them on the road to literate fluency.
Vicky runs Adalia, the Chinese Immersion Early Enrichment Program, and is a videogame veteran who’s dedicated her recent years to designing curriculum for contextually-based learning and is putting it on tablet. She is happy to bring the innovative new game PICA to children and families. Vicky adds, “Early bi-lingual learners typically gain profound cultural knowledge, develop mature interpersonal skills, and enjoy a rich personal awareness of family history and linguistic nuance sooner than mono-linguistic peers. Peach Ice Cream Adventures makes learning fun, and we are excited to launch our Kickstarter campaign in support of it.” Pledge today at: www.kickstarter.com/projects/2090484647/peach-ice-cream-adventures-pica- 2nd-language-learn?ref=live
PICA Project publishes engaging new language and STEM-based tablet adventure games for young kids age 3-6. Peach Ice Cream Adventures’ digital solutions enable children to have fun while learning. For more information go to www.froghop3.net/peachicecream.
Vicky Wu Davis