Brain Chase – A Summer Learning Challenge
We love having the opportunity to share new and exciting discoveries with you – especially when we feel like we’ve found something truly unique and useful. This is how we both immediately felt about Brain Chase. I (Jean) first discovered it in a blog, and after that, it kept popping up in my Facebook feed. Nada spotted it up also and was equally intrigued, so we reached out to the founders of the company, Allan and Heather Staker, who agreed to speak with us. I had a delightful and informative conversation with Allan – what a nice guy!
Heather and Allan have created an online game that is educational and fun – not an easy mix. (Let me preface this review by saying that we haven’t actually tried Brain Chase, because this summer’s challenge doesn’t begin until June 22, 2015.) The company was just launched in 2013 and right now there is only one chase per summer and everyone starts the game at the same time. (Sneak preview: It sounds like they may be launching some other programs during the school year.) Before speaking with Allan, I had already decided to buy the game and enroll Lightning in the challenge, but after speaking with AlLan, I am even more excited to watch my daughter play, and she is too. She hasn’t stopped asking me if we have it yet and when she can start.* Okay, so now about the game!
Your kids will join the character Mae Merriweather and her friends on a trip across the globe trying to find a treasure. And not just a virtual treasure. This treasure is real, and the player who finds the treasure will actually be flown, for free (yes, free!) with a chaperone, to the location where the treasure is hidden. Last year’s winner was taken on a trip to the South of France and received a $10,000 school scholarship. Now you may be wondering where the learning comes in. I could explain it, but I think Allan does a better job. Read on for excerpts from our chat.
The Well Rounded Child: Tell me how you and your wife came up with this curriculum?
Brain Chase: This is what happens when an educational gal and a film guy get married. My wife had just published her book, Blended, talking about how schools are incorporating technology into the school system.
We have five children and while we were driving between San Antonio and Austin, a rare moment alone in the car, we began discussing how we were going to entertain all five kids (now 11 and under) over the summer. Heather came up with the idea of creating a learning challenge for the kids, and as we began building on the idea became clear that this was not just for our kids, and that’s how Brain Chase was born.
The Well Rounded Child: Share with me the educational components in the Challenge?
Brain Chase: There are four tasks that need to be completed each day. You can catch up if you fall behind, but you cannot move forward by completing additional work, although you are encouraged to take advantage of the programs and work as long as you would like. Initially some kids just do the minimum, but by the end of the first week they are spending more time on the programs. You can work on any task as long as you choose, but it will not give you an advantage over any other players. The four tasks include the following:
- Reading online for 15 minutes a day; free access is granted to a wide selection of books. Audio is also available.
- The players must earn 10,000 energy points on Khan Academy (if you ar not familiar with Khan Acadamy it is a free open source program anyone can access)
- Complete one bonus challenge. The bonus challenge includes three virtual challenges and three challenges that will be sent to you in the mail. The goal of the three challenges in the mail is to get the kids outside. Last year one of the outdoor challenges involved looking in the sky for constellations. The bonus challenges are on various subjects. During week one a decoder ring will be sent in the mail to assist you in a challenge.
- Complete either a language or writing assignment, but you must decide within the first week and you are not provided many options to jump back and forth so the decision needs to be made fairly quickly. Their goal is to have you commit to one so you get the most benefit from it. The writing assignment will consist of writing prompts and a word count, based on your grade level, that will then be evaluated by certified teachers. The teachers may kick the work back if not sufficient before you are able to earn your points. The language challenge is completed with your free unlimited access to Rosetta Stone to study any language you choose.
The Well Rounded Child: What is the minimum amount of time a child will need to spend on Brain Chase to earn their points and move forward?
Brain Chase: Four to five hours per week.
The Well Rounded Child: Do you have special pricing for homeschooling coops?
Brain Chase: Special pricing for groups of 50 or more will be provided at $99 per registrant. There are also discount codes available on the internet.
One of the many advantages of Brain Chase is that is it appropriate for children with reading disabilities and other learning disadvantages. Allan shared a heartwarming story about a girl who was home from school because of a brain tumor and was falling behind in school. Her parents signed her up for Brain Chase last year and by that time she went back to school not only was she caught up, but she was ahead. We love that the program is beneficial for kids of different ages, interests and abilities. We hope that you’ll consider joining us in the Brain Chase Summer Learning Challenge.
As long as you understand that play to win! 😉
(Note: We checked online by just typing in Brain Chase and discovered several different discount codes.)
*The Brain Chase folks have kindly discounted the game for us so that we could review it for you.