February 2011

Movin’ & Groovin’ with Cambridge Youth

On Wednesday we had the pleasure of partnering with the Boys & Girls Clubs of Cambridge and Harmonix to host a Kinect Dance Party for 100 local elementary and middle-school children. Kids and adults alike had a great time playing with Dance Central and Kinect!

As you may know, Microsoft recently launched Kinect for Xbox 360, a revolutionary sensor that lets you control games, music and television with your gestures and voice. Completely controller-free, Kinect introduces a new way to play that lets you use your whole body, encouraging active, immersive and social experiences.

Microsoft has donated Kinect for Xbox 360 to thousands of Boys & Girls Clubs nationwide, including our neighbors at the Boys & Girls Clubs of Cambridge. Here in Cambridge, we partnered with Harmonix, the developers who created the worldwide blockbuster, Rock Band™ and now Dance Central™ , the first immersive dance video game that features and tracks full-body dance moves, to plan a party where students could learn about how Kinect and Dance Central were created, and get a chance to learn – and dance – with the experts.

At this special event, over 100 local youth from the Cambridge Boys & Girls Club and the Margaret Fuller House got a behind-the-scenes look at how Kinect and the Dance Central game were created. Lead designer for Dance Central, Matt Boch, shared his story about developing the game, highlighting the importance of team work and collaboration with many partners including Microsoft and pop artists like Lady Gaga, Cascada, Rihanna and others. Interestingly enough, in Matt’s spare time, he serves as the lead singer for the Main Drag. Matt is also a VJ and video artist and makes video game remixes through his music project, AniGif.

Microsoft’s own Senior Academic Evangelist, Edwin Guarin, gave the kids an insider’s view into how the Kinect was created, while reflecting on the evolution of the gaming industry. As a child, Edwin recounts the popularity of Pac-Man – now, it’s Kinect!

Finally, Dance Central choreographer Marcos Aguirre rocked it out with the kids, showing his love for dance through his Dance Central demo.

As an added bonus, Dr. Jeffrey Young, superintendent of Cambridge Public Schools and Tim Toomey, Cambridge City Councilor & State Representative stopped by to join in the festivities.

“We truly had a special day. Just one week after the City of Cambridge became the nation’s newest ‘Let’s Move’ city, signing on to Michelle Obama’s nationwide initiative to end childhood obesity, we had two worldwide leaders, Microsoft and Harmonix voicing their commitment to our community.  The generous donation of Kinect for Xbox 360 is a perfect complement to Boys & Girls Clubs of Middlesex County’s commitment to health and fitness and gives kids a whole new way to get active. The Kinect systems will enhance our exercise and gaming programs used to help all youth, especially those who are most sedentary and shy away from traditional sports and fitness activities, to become active and excited about moving in a supportive environment.”
Mechilia Eng, Executive Director, Boys & Girls Clubs of Middlesex County

We had a great time at the party, and want to extend a huge THANKS to the Boys & Girls Clubs of Cambridge and Harmonix for their partnership.  I can’t wait to see what’s next!

Check out our event photos here.

Know a great teacher? Encourage them to apply to the Microsoft Innovative Education Forum

Hello and thanks for stopping by to read our blog. 

My name is Stacey Rainey and I have worked at Microsoft for the past 5 years on the US Partners in Learning (PIL) team.  During this time I have been based in Boston and worked out of the Waltham and Cambridge offices.  PiL, as we affectionately call ourselves, is focused on creating tools and resources to ease the integration of technology in the classroom.  We believe technology can serve as an accelerator of learning and is a critical component in preparing 21st Century learners.

One of my favorite initiatives at Microsoft is our annual Innovative Education Forum.  This event is a wonderful celebration of educators who are using technology in the classroom to improve teaching and learning.  In 2010, a team from Lexington, MA was selected to attend based on the strength of their application.  Hear them describe the project utilizing Worldwide Telescope in a 6th grade classroom in this short video.

If you are a teacher, please consider applying today.  If you know a great teacher (Spouse? Child’s Teacher? Neighbor? College Roommate?) please share the below information with them – we want to highlight the best in Massachusetts and New England. If you have any questions, please do not hesitate to email us.

The Innovative Education Forum (IEF) is part of a worldwide program from Microsoft Partners in Learning.  The IEF seeks to showcase creative and inspiring examples of how educators and schools are using technology to improve teaching and learning.

The application window just opened for the 2011 IEF.  It will be hosted on the Microsoft campus in Redmond, WA July 28-29.  The theme this year is Engaging students. Inspiring creativity. Preparing for the future. It focuses on how educators and schools engage students to solve difficult problems while inspiring creativity and, ultimately, preparing students for the future. 

Microsoft covers all costs for participants selected to attend.  For complete details on the event, to download the application and watch a short video of past IEF participants, please click here.