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The Five Best Projects from the Gates Foundation's Education Technology Competition

Here are our five favorite projects from the Gates Foundation's education technology grant competition.

On Tuesday the Gates Foundation announced 19 winners of the second phase of its Next Generation Learning Challenges grant competition. The NGLC's priority is using technology to improve college readiness among low-income students, and what makes these new grantees noteworthy is that they're working on targeting the critical seventh- through ninth-grade years—well before students can either drop out or fall too far behind in higher level math and science. Each project is also aligned with the new Common Core Standards, which are all about developing higher-order thinking skills. While all 19 grantees are noteworthy, here are five that really stand out:

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Meet the Video Game School of the Future

Attention middle and high school students: You're going to want to go to this school!


Ask the average middle or high school student if they would rather do algebra or play "Dragon Age II", and the video game option is going to win. But, if an innovative schooling idea called Quest to Learn (Q2L), spreads to the mainstream, future students might not have to choose. Don't worry, Q2L students don't play commercial video games all day. Instead, the school's systems thinking-centered academic curriculum immerses students in a "game-like learning environment," while also teaching kids how to design their own video games.

The first Q2L school opened in New York City in 2009, and far from being drilled with test prep, the gamers "learn by 'taking on' the behaviors and practices of the people in real life knowledge domains." That means they become "biologist and historians and mathematicians instead of learning about biology or history or math." Students also acquire marketable real-world skills like website production, film making, and podcasting. Along the way, they solve real world problems, use and analyze data, and learn to communicate effectively.

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Watch This 12-Year-Old Genius Teach Calculus 2

Jacob Barnett is also working on an "expanded version of Einstein's theory of relativity" and plans to disprove the big bang theory.

[youtube]http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=YFmrlIEpJOE

Having a tough time understanding college level calculus? You might want to start watching the YouTube videos of 12-year-old Indiana tween Jacob Barnett. He has an IQ of 170, taught himself calculus, algebra, geometry, and trigonometry in a mere two weeks, and enrolled in the astrophysics program at Indiana University-Purdue University Indianapolis when he was eight.

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