Announcing New Short Courses!

Three new Short Courses are now ready and available for Zulama schools!

BB Sub RobotArcade Game Design

Students will use Scratch and a Hummingbird robotics kit to build their own arcade game! Learning the fundamentals of game design and coding, they will use LEDs, motors, and sensors to create a game that lights up and moves.

IMG_2968Science Game Design

Science is everywhere, from tiny bacteria to space travel! Your middle schoolers will team up with friends to build and play a game about a popular science topic of their choice!

Screen Shot 2016-01-31 at 12.18.20 PMGamestar Mechanic Game Design

Your students will learn to apply five elements of game design to build a game using Gamestar Mechanic. They will create a design document, prototype, and play their game with friends!

We Want Your Feedback!

For a limited time, we’re opening up the opportunity to be the first to use these new 15-18 hour courses in your classroom, whether your school has purchased the Short Courses or not!

In return, we’d like to hear your feedback about your experience with the new courses.

What we ask from you:

  • Complete a 5 minute click and submit survey at the conclusion of the course to let us know how your class enjoyed the course activities and project
  • Take a short followup call from Zulama to share your course experience with us
  • Your classroom meets the requirements (below) for the course you’d like to teach
  • You are willing to share samples images of your student’s work

Only with feedback from our valued teachers and administrators, can we continue to bring innovative and engaging new content for your students to enjoy! We couldn’t do what we do without you!

This offer is only available through the end of Summer 2016, so if you’d like to take advantage of this opportunity, talk to your administrators, and send us an email at for more information!

Classroom requirements for each course are listed below:

Arcade Game Design Requirements

  • Access to access Scratch 2 (free)
  • Hummingbird Duo Base Kits, can be purchased here.

Science Game Design Requirements

  • Must teach in a grade 6 through grade 9 classroom, preferably in a science classroom

Gamestar Mechanic Game Design Requirements




We all want to give our students the best chance at an enjoyable fulfilling career, and at Zulama, that’s what we’re doing!  Through our Entertainment Technology Academy, we are infusing our students with the 21st century skills they need to compete in today’s workforce.  That’s why our program is built on the qualities of STEAM, rather than STEM. Science, technology, engineering, arts, and mathematics play a critical role in all our courses. They work together to teach our students collaboration, communication, creativity, and critical thinking skills.  Take a look at the infographic below developed by The University of Florida comparing STEM and STEAM.



Smithsonian Teacher Resources

Are you an educator looking for rigorous, yet engaging FREE science resources?! The place to start is NOT a Google search! Start right here on the Smithsonian Institution’s Educator web page. You can search by keyword or state standards to find exactly what you need.

I just returned from the Youth Access Grant Panel at the Smithsonian in DC where I spent two days analyzing and making recommendations for grants to be awarded to Smithsonian employees/educators for projects that aim to give underserved and disadvantaged youth the STEAM education that their schools are failing to deliver.

From hands-on watershed studies to telling the story of their own family’s migration, some of the projects are truly inspiring. I can’t wait to follow the positive impact they will surely have.

The Youth Access Grants were made possible by a $30 million endowment from the Bill and Melinda Gates foundation. Kudos to the foundation for supporting education!

Yet I was left wondering why our schools [that are already being funded by taxpayer’s dollars] aren’t doing a better job providing the education young people need?!

How to Interest Youth in Science & Math

Amit Shah

Originally written for Univisiion’s “¡Edúcate, es el momento!”

I consider myself an expert on this topic. I was a very good student in India in the 1960s but hated math . . . arithmetic, algebra, geometry. I hated my teacher and tuned out for most of the classes, barely scraping by in the finals. Without understanding and applying the fundamental concepts, algebra was a jungle of craziness. In India at that time, we had to choose “streams” or focus of academic studies when we turned 14. These were primarily in the humanities and in science/math. The “better” students were shunted into science/math and the weaker ones into the humanities. Though I was a top student, my poor math scores got me pushed into the humanities field. Then came the shocker! I was introduced to trigonometry—a new language, a new perspective, I loved my teacher, and I learned the fundamentals—and I excelled. I learned the LANGUAGE and I became very fluent.

The biggest single hurdle in successful STEM education is RELEVANCE about the fundamental concepts. Drilling on concepts can only successfully benefit few; the rest are “not good” in math and science ’cause they missed out on the fundamental tools of deduction, process, and analysis.

Every year we are subjected to a barrage of data that shows the US behind in math and science in world rankings (

The pinnacle of achievement for the top spots are Finland and China, or Finland and South Korea, or Finland and Japan. (

Almost like an annual weather report, there’s a predictable hue and cry about emulating Finland or China or one of the other top-ranking countries. What exactly do we want to emulate? The success, obviously. The success, though, is not a magic ingestion of curricula. Do we really want to drill our students as Japan, South Korea and China? Are students from these countries in US universities overwhelmingly successful even in the hard sciences and math? Are students from these countries adept in problem-solving, process thinking, analytical and deductive in the real-world outside of strict mathematical and scientific study? And what about Finland? The Finnish success story is part of decades of teacher training, government investment, and implementation of teacher-led pedagogy. I don’t have to outline the single-biggest drawback in U.S. K-12 education today —teachers who are trained, paid a decent wage, provided with the framework of a curricula. Without policies for teacher preparation, retention, measures for performance (other than high-stakes testing), we have a nation of coaches who are at sea in a vast bureaucracy.

Can fundamental concepts of math and science be made exciting, taught with vigor and have students be involved in furthering their inherent curiosity? Yes, yes, yes. The need for students, including the burgeoning Hispanic population, is essential (

There are many programs that are doing just that and a national focus would significantly help in stemming the tide of math and science disinterest in the larger school population. Here are a few exceptionally good and easy-to-access programs:




Can there be a few programs that are nationally or state-funded and offered in every district of the country via schools, afterschools, libraries and recreational centers for a period of 3 years —say grades 6-8–and then tested to see if that sample is successful?

We need a national STEM policy that can be articulated at the state and district level. Otherwise, coffee in Seattle is a different brew from Boston, certainly from the Midwest and a different beverage in Louisiana!

Amit Shah, guest blogger

STEM Education Advisory Board session at the Winchester Thurston School

Zulama’s President and CTO, Nikki Navta, had the honor of attending a STEM Education Advisory Board session at the Winchester Thurston School in Pittsburgh recently. Winchester Thurston (WT) is reaching out to professionals and academics in the community for ideas regarding how to implement more STEM content in their curriculum.

The meeting started with a general brainstorming session, and then drilled down to more specific problem-solving and program details. The ideas flew around the room, amid a swirl of energy and concentration. Some takeaways:

  • the need to incorporate the Arts into any STEM program is essential. STEAM, not just STEM
  • making science relevant to students is a key to success
  • enable students to experience real-life STEAM jobs through internships, mentoring, and more
  • give students real-world problems to solve

What are your experiences incorporating STEAM content into your curriculum? Any best practices to share?