Monday, January 23, 2012

Back to the Future

I'm fresh back from a cyberlearning science conference in which games was one of the hot buzzwords. Games for education! Wouldn't it be great if we could harness the energy that goes into playing games for purposes of work and education? What's amazing to me is that people address this question as if it were new uncharted territory.

People have been playing for a long time. Playing hard. My parents warned me when I went off to college about how many of their friends at college got hooked on Bridge to the point where they practically flunked out of college.  In my case, there was soccer and then some stupid hallway version of soccer with a fluffy ball that we played a lot. I mean a lot. We dreamed up incredibly clever rules and strategies and we worked out butts off.

Today, researchers are documenting that games are intellectual, that they light up and stimulate the brain, and that after the excitement and camaraderie of competitive games, people have trouble coming back to the hum drum of daily life.  My point is that this is not new, it is an age-old phenomenon that the pure social and intellectual and adrenlin thrill of games is hard-to-match.  Of course, with computers, these games can more indepth, are available 24/7, and they freak out a lot of people....more later.....

Saturday, January 21, 2012

Girl Scout Cookies - Another Teachable Moment

I was walking through the mall this morning with my son and there were girl scouts selling Girl Scout Cookies. We went up to the booth and asked and learned the following (these are mostly the answers of a mom and daughter in a mall, they are not necessarily proper spokepeople or even right and regional differences are probable):

Q - Are they made with real girl scouts?  A - Huh?
Q - Why do you sell cookies? A - To raise funds.
Q - For what?   A - For a trip to Georgia.
Q - How much money do you make on each box (they sell for $4).  A - $0.71
Q - Do you feel that the annual stuffing of cookies into everyone's hands greatly contributes to the problem of obesity?  A - Huh? Probably not, we only sell them for three weeks.  And mostly they're all eaten in a month.
Q - Whats the quota per girl scout?  A - 200 boxes
Q - Who else makes money on the cookies? Who sells them to you? - A ABC Bakers and Little Brownie Bakers. 
Q - What cute sounding companies. Are they really independents or just clever brand names for people like P&G, General Mills, or Nabisco? . A - Don't know.  (I looked it up and their website appears to be one of a little company but they don't say one way or another if they are independent or not).
Q - How much?  A - $4.00 a box (we took two)
Q - How many boxes of cookies get sold every year? A. Don't know. Our troop sells 2,000 boxes.
Q - Well how many igrl scout troops are there? Don't know.

I googled the question and wikipedia cites an estimate of 200 million boxes per year.  At retail, this would be $800 million.  I also saw this on the authoritative site: The $700 million Girl Scout Cookie Program is the largest girl-led business in the country....

It was fun learning about the economics of the