Serious Play Recognizes Second Avenue Learning with Games Award; CEO to Speak at Conference

July 15, 2015 | Annie


Rochester, NY – Second Avenue Learning has received a Bronze Award from the International Serious Play Competition for its Martha Madison physical science game suite. The competition recognizes outstanding game titles that deliver high quality engagement and learning opportunities for students, and is held in conjunction with the annual Serious Play Conference at Carnegie Mellon University.

The Martha Madison games support middle school science instruction through videogame style problem-based learning. Each game introduces key science content through collaborative play, while also offering students the opportunity to build their own game levels using science and engineering principles. The games have been shown to be particularly effective with girls as well as students from economically disadvantaged backgrounds.

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Second Avenue Software Awarded a National Science Foundation Phase IIB SBIR Grant

July 01, 2015 | Annie

Grant will support development of the Martha Madison Serious Game Suite for Physical Science


Rochester, NY – A leader in the design and development of serious games for education, Second Avenue Learning is pleased to announce that it is the recipient of a prestigious Phase IIB Small Business Innovation Research (SBIR) grant from the National Science Foundation (NSF). This grant award will further the development and expansion of Martha Madison, a classroom-tested serious game suite designed to support middle school physical science instruction.

“We are delighted to receive this award from the National Science Foundation, which will support our ongoing efforts to reimagine what it means to teach, learn, and play,” said Victoria Van Voorhis, founder and CEO of Second Avenue Learning. “As a scalable and research-based solution to the persistent issue of poor STEM performance and interest among students in the United States, particularly in economically disadvantaged settings, Martha Madison has the potential to significantly improve learning and achievement in science. We are honored to apply this award toward this important mission.”

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MAGIC at RIT hosts Disney's Paul Hildebrandt

April 16, 2015 | Bob Jeffery

Second Avenue was delighted to attend Tuesday’s MAGIC at RIT Speaker Series featuring Disney’s Paul Hildebrandt speaking about technology used in the making of animated films. There was a good turnout with a mix of RIT students and professionals from local development studios. Hildebrandt gave us an exciting peek into what the Disney process looks like and how the technology developed by him and his team helps from behind the scenes to make it all possible.

Lucky for us, Disney is now sharing their technological innovation with the world! They have posted Open Source Software at and various papers and talks at . More videos on their tech can be found on Disney’s YouTube channel here: . As Second Avenue continues to design and develop customized learning experiences, we will use this as a great resource and inspiration.

We’d like to thank Paul Hildebrandt for speaking and MAGIC at RIT for hosting. We also look forward to more in the MAGIC Speaker Series!

-Bob Jeffery

Bob is Lead Artist at Second Avenue Learning and an entertainment games industry veteran, having completed appealing art and animations in various apps, games, and prototypes for companies such as Activision, EA and Sony. Bob earned his BFA from the Savannah College of Art and Design and is now applying his nearly 20 years of experience to creating serious games at Second Avenue.

Paul Hildebrandt has been a Senior Engineer with Walt Disney Animation Studios (WDAS) since 1996. Hildebrandt leads the team responsible for developing the digital asset manager, media player, dailies review system with a mobile interface, and other related tools. Among the Disney animated films that he has contributed to are the Oscar® winning hit Frozen and Oscar®-nominated box office hits, "Wreck-It Ralph," "Tangled," "Bolt," "Treasure Planet," and "Dinosaur." He is WDAS' evangelist for PyCon and other Python sponsorships.

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Staff Spotlight: An Interview with Brian Regan, Lead Game Producer

March 30, 2015 | Annie

What do you do here at Second Ave., exactly?

Brian: My business card says “Lead Game Producer” but like most of us, I wear a few different hats depending on the situation. My main job is to make sure our titles move through all stages of development as efficiently as possible, while staying true to the original creative vision. I work with our programmers and artists to make sure everyone has an understanding of what we need to build, when we need to build it by, and how we’re going to get there. If something breaks down, it’s my job to figure out how we’re going to fix it with minimal impact to everything else. It may sound simple, but as anyone in software development knows, this is much easier said than done. There are a thousand moving parts and it’s my job to make sure they line up with each other every day. I also play a part in designing some software we build, as well as being the face of the team to some of our clients.

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Games and Active Learning (J. Gee Retrospective Part 3)

February 17, 2015 | Annie

Welcome to Part 3 of our James Paul Gee retrospective, where we reflect on quotes from Gee's book, What Video Games Have to Teach Us about Learning and Literacy, first published in 2003.

We are proud to be sponsoring edWeb's 50th webinar, featuring Professor Gee, who will be discussing game-based learning. To learn more and register, visit:


Celebration screen from Martha Madison: Forces

“Video games have the potential to lead to active and critical learning.” – p. 46

The idea of "hands-on" or "active" learning may sound like just another educational buzzword or fad - a new approach that's different or flashier or newer than traditional methods such as lecture or textbook assignments.

In truth, active learning is an ancient method of teaching, one that we often engage in without even knowing it. Paul Corrigan argues in this clever post that in reality, "active" learning as an approach is as old as the act of human learning itself. Humans have always learned very well by engaging in tasks and reflecting on their actions; this has been shown time and again across countless domains.

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Storytelling in Games (J. Gee Retrospective Part 2)

February 13, 2015 | Annie

Welcome to Part 2 of our James Paul Gee retrospective, where we reflect on Gee's book, What Video Games Have to Teach Us about Learning and Literacy, first published in 2003.

We are proud to be sponsoring edWeb's 50th webinar, featuring Professor Gee, who will be discussing game-based learning. To learn more and register, visit:

"Video games... [create] what I have called embodied stories, stories that involve and motivate the player in a different way than do the stories in books and movies.” - Jim Gee

The great Isak Dinesen once said, "to be a person is to have a story to tell." Storytelling, whether it is the telling of our own story or the story of another, is one of the most powerful methods that humans have developed to associate with each other and with the world. In addition to providing entertainment, stories have been used throughout history to teach. Stories convey content, teach procedures, preserve history, and develop our capacity to view the world through more than one perspective.

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12 years later: A James Paul Gee Retrospective (Part 1)

February 11, 2015 | Annie

In 2003, a now-famous book, What Video Games Have to Teach Us About Learning and Literacy was first published by a linguistics researcher named James Paul Gee. In this book, Gee argued that good video games utilize good principles of learning - principles that can and should be applied in other learning settings such as school. In identifying these principles, Gee began to link game-based learning with content learning in schools.

At the time, this was a pretty interesting and slightly absurd idea. Although the notion of game-based learning was not new, it was unusual to look to video games as models for excellence in teaching. Most classrooms had not yet embraced game-based learning, and in fact many schools took great pains to ensure that children could not play games, digital and otherwise, during the school day.

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FETC: Kicking off the 2015 Conference Season

February 04, 2015 | Annie

Tory, Bob, Brian, and Jill just recently got back home from sunny Florida, after attending FETC 2015, one of the first education technology conferences of the 2015 season. The Second Avenue team enjoyed the high energy venue (complete with an aerial acrobat!) as well as the chance to meet colleagues, customers, and most of all, the hardworking teachers who are eager to integrate the latest in ed tech into their instruction.

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Second Avenue Learning Celebrates the International Year of Light!

February 03, 2015 | Annie

If you drive around Rochester, New York long enough, you are bound to run into an optics or imaging corporation. There are the giants, of course: Xerox Corp., Bausch & Lomb, Inc., and Eastman Kodak. Rochester is also home to around 50 small and midsized optics companies, which produce everything from optic technologies for motor vehicle sensor systems to the lenses of the Hubble telescope. The study of light, and all its many applications, has been a part of Rochester’s history for over 150 years.

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Second Avenue Learning named 2014 SIIA Innovation Incubator Runner-Up for Most Innovative

December 10, 2014 | JBroikos

For Immediate Release

ROCHESTER, NY 12/10/2014—Second Avenue Learning’s augmented reality game TARGETS was named the runner-up for Most Innovative product at the 2014 Innovation Incubator program, at SIIA’s annual Education Business Forum. Second Avenue CEO Victoria Van Voorhis and Director of Business Development Jill Broikos demonstrated the efficacy of TARGETS, which includes two games: a physical card game, and a digital augmented reality game. Students collaboratively solve authentic science problems by using the cards to manipulate bonding and create molecules. The augmented reality game brings those chemistry concepts to life in a 3D world TARGETS is funded in part by a US Department of Education SBIR grant.

The Most Innovative award was sponsored by the Education Division of the Software & Information Industry Association (SIIA). TARGETS was selected as one of ten finalists from a pool of almost 70 applicants. Selection criteria for finalists included user impact, market need for the innovation, originality, and representation of K12/postsecondary market levels.

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