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SBIR “Game Night” in Washington DC

Post Date:
December 16, 2015
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Did you know that game-based learning is gaining popularity in schools and in other educational settings?

That’s right – an increasing number of teachers are using games to facilitate instruction, and more and more young people and adults are playing serious games in and out of the classroom. 

On the evening of December 9 in Washington DC, games for learning were front and center at the ED Games Expo, an event that featured 45 entrepreneurial developers.

30 of those developers received funding to develop their games from the Small Business Innovation Research program across six Federal agencies, including the U.S. Department of Education, National Science Foundation, National Institutes of Health, Department of Transportation, Department of Agriculture, and Department of Defense.

During the Expo, developers demo’d the latest version of their games in areas such as science, coding, history, early childhood, social and behavioral learning, smoking cessation, mental health, and military training. (See a video playlist of more SBIR-support games here)

More than 200 attendees played the games, met the developers, and asked questions during and after gameplay. The free event was co-sponsored by 1776 and the Entertainment Software Association.


Above: ED Games Expo attendees play SBIR-supported games for learning.

The Expo  was highlighted by a visit from SBA’s Administrator Maria Contreras-Sweet and Associate Administrator Mark Walsh. The Administrator and Associate Administrator walked around the Expo hall and spent some time chatting with developers, including John Krajewski of Strange Loop Games (science game Eco), Kara Carpenter of Teachley (math apps), and Maria Burns Ortiz of 7 Generation Games (culturally-framed math games).

We thank the Administrator and Associate Administrator for joining us!


Above: SBA Administrator Maria Contreras-Sweet and Associate Administrator Mark Walsh visit with 7 Generation Games’ Maria Burns Ortiz.


 Above: ED/IES SBIR Program Manager Ed Metz, Erik Huey of the Entertainment Software Association, Administrator Maria Contreras Sweet, and Rusty Greiff of 1776.

What is next for the SBIR games?  Many of the SBIR-supported learning games are now completing additional research and development work that is needed prior to launch.  Several others developers are now commercializing games in the private marketplace in schools and other settings, with plans to conduct research to evaluate the efficacy of their games to improve learning outcomes.

 Stay tuned in for more news and stories on games for learning right here at and on


This blog was authored by Edward Metz, Program Manager of the SBIR program at the U.S. Department of Education’s Institute of Education Sciences.

Photos are courtesy of Emily Clack.

The Small Business Innovation Research (SBIR) and Small Business Technology Transfer (STTR) programs are collectively the largest single source of early-stage capital for innovative small companies in the United States. Via these programs, the federal government invests over 2 billion dollars in early stage and high growth American entrepreneurial firms to develop and commercialize technologies that strengthen our nation's defense, improve the health of our citizens, and enhance education. For more information on the program across the 11 Federal agencies that operate programs, please visit For timely updates and resources follow us on Twitter @SBIRgov to stay connected!


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