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Exergaming combines physical movement and gaming, and has become a research focus for eSports. It has been found to positively impact cognitive functioning, physical fitness, and mental well-being. Exergames, or movement-based gaming, may require players to control game actions through physically active body movements or may simply require a suite of physical skills in order to be successful in a gaming environment.

Physical exercise has been shown to trigger various beneficial metabolic brain pathways and mechanisms that can enhance cognitive functioning (Thomas et al., 2012; Hötting and Röder, 2013; Voelcker-Rehage and Niemann, 2013; Bamidis et al., 2014; Erickson et al., 2015; Ballesteros et al., 2018; Netz, 2019). Studies have also indicated that combining physical and cognitive exercises yields the best outcomes (Fissler et al., 2013; Bamidis et al., 2014).

Exergames have been found to improve cognitive functions, such as attention and visual-spatial skills (Staiano and Calvert, 2011; Best, 2015; Benzing et al., 2016; Mura et al., 2017; Stojan and Voelcker-Rehage, 2019; Xiong et al., 2019), and physical factors, like energy expenditure and heart rate (Staiano and Calvert, 2011; Sween et al., 2014; Best, 2015; Kari, 2017). Additionally, they have been shown to positively influence mental aspects, such as social interaction, self-esteem, motivation, and mood (Staiano and Calvert, 2011; Li et al., 2016; Joronen et al., 2017; Lee et al., 2017; Byrne and Kim, 2019).

Exergames are known for their appealing and motivating impact, especially for physically less active individuals (Lu et al., 2013; Kappen et al., 2019). They have been shown to increase training adherence, long-term motivation, engagement, immersion, and flow experience in players from different populations (Valenzuela et al., 2018; Macvean and Robertson, 2013; Lyons, 2015; Lu et al., 2013; Martin-Niedecken and Götz, 2017).

For eSports athletes, exergames can provide a motivating and holistic training approach, helping maintain cognitive, physical, and mental processes to increase their performance and overall health. However, to achieve the desired benefits, exergames need to be specifically designed and evaluated by an interdisciplinary team of experts from the fields of eSports, game design and research, movement and cognitive science, as well as psychology (Plank Board and Game Ball; Beat Saber, ExerCube).

The table below is an example of a framework that includes some foundational exergaming skills, types of physical activities to strengthen them, and their relation to eSports or gaming.

Physical Activity and Cognitive Function

Physical activity and exercise have long been recognized for their positive effects on cognitive functioning and performance. Multiple studies and reviews have investigated the relationship between exercise and cognitive abilities, finding consistent evidence of the benefits of physical activity on various aspects of cognition.

Aerobic exercise, in particular, has been found to improve cognitive functions across the lifespan. A review by Colcombe and Kramer (2003) showed that aerobic exercise has significant positive effects on attention, processing speed, memory, and executive functions in older adults. Moreover, a meta-analysis conducted by Smith et al. (2010) found that aerobic exercise improved cognitive performance in adults aged 55 to 80 years, with effects on attention, processing speed, and executive functions.

Physical activity has also been shown to benefit children's cognitive development. A review by Tomporowski et al. (2008) found that children who engage in regular physical activity exhibit better cognitive performance, including improvements in perceptual skills, attention, and memory. Another review by Donnelly et al. (2016) provided evidence that school-based physical activity programs can enhance cognitive functions, including attention and working memory, and academic achievement in children.

The benefits of exercise on cognitive performance are supported by studies on the underlying neurobiological mechanisms. Exercise has been shown to promote neuroplasticity by increasing the production of neurotrophic factors, such as brain-derived neurotrophic factor (BDNF) (Vaynman et al., 2004), and growth factors, such as insulin-like growth factor 1 (IGF-1) (Trejo et al., 2001). These factors are critical for the growth and maintenance of neurons and synapses, which contribute to better cognitive performance. Furthermore, exercise can enhance brain perfusion, leading to improved supply of oxygen and nutrients to the brain (Hötting and Röder, 2013).

In addition to aerobic exercise, strength training has been shown to improve cognitive performance. A study by Cassilhas et al. (2007) found that elderly individuals who participated in strength training exhibited improved cognitive functions, including memory and executive functions. Another study by Liu-Ambrose et al. (2010) demonstrated that resistance training improved selective attention and conflict resolution in older women.

In summary, physical activity and exercise play a crucial role in enhancing cognitive performance across the lifespan. Engaging in regular exercise, such as aerobic activities and strength training, can improve attention, memory, and executive functions, which are essential for maintaining cognitive health and optimizing performance in various domains, including academics and gaming.

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Educational Individuality: Describe Yourself In One Word.

My 1st-grade teacher lovingly described me in one word on my first-trimester report card by saying, “Robby is a daydreamer.” I'm pretty sure she was right..or was she? The ideas of what we are, what we think we are, and what others think we are can get very complicated. I’ve always been interested in choose your own adventure stories, endless quests, and using storylines with blends of reality and fantasy to learn things. I didn't have "cable" television growing up so I don’t know the names of many bands or the proper names of most songs or albums (things I would have learned from watching MTV). If you challenge me to a round of 80’s sitcom theme song trivia, you’ll be sorry you ever did though. Sometimes I write down notes on paper to remember things and other times I can remember things by just listening to a lecture, podcast, or audiobook while I’m driving. For my most important work, I often use old black and white composition notebooks. For directions, I’m a map person. If I see the map once before I depart, I can usually make it most of the way without looking at it again. If you tell me the directions, I’ll forget them almost instantly. I’m horrible at remembering names but I can recall numerous lines from certain movies after hearing them for the first time. When it comes to organizing and cleaning, I am a pile-making machine and a professional categorizer. I often know exactly where things are in the house and I almost never lose anything. For some reason, I hate unpacking luggage after a trip. When something interests me, I do extreme deep dives and become unstoppable in the pursuit of understanding it. I spent 5 years doing research to co-write 2 books profiling every chocolate shop in NYC, categorizing 40 of them into walking tours geographically by neighborhood, and that was just a hobby!

These are the things that contribute to the makeup of my Educational Individuality. These are the sorts of details I mine for when working with new students, as I think they lend themselves to a more complete overall picture of the cognitive profile of the student. Of course, there are cognitive assessments, observations, questioning tactics, and conversations that help as well.

Whenever I ask parents and teachers to give their children or students a descriptive title (think of a noun, not an adjective) that describes them as fully as any word can, they sometimes have trouble, and for good reason. For my son, I might say that he is a collector, a forager, a gamer, or an observer, but I really don’t know if I could narrow it down to just one. I would never say that he is a certain “type” of learner because I think there is a more suitable cognitive profile description that complements my descriptive nouns for him. Those words all describe something meaningful about his personality and learning style because they relate to his interests. I don’t use this information to help him learn information though, I am using it to help him develop into an expert learner and critical thinker. There are many things that most expert learners, regardless of their field of study, seem to have in common that I try to foster in him as well. These include curiosity, adapting, logic, reasoning, pattern recognition, resource management, abstraction and more.

One of the unknowns in all of this is the extent to which our Educational Individuality is shaped by others. Family members, friends, teachers, and countless others we observe or encounter

probably have, or have had, some influence over the things we become interested in or the ways in which we learn to do things. There is also the idea of experience acting as a major influencer as well. Ut est rerum omnium magister usus (roughly "Experience is the teacher of all things" or more generally "experience is the best teacher") is a quote attributed to Julius Caesar in De Bello Civile, the war commentaries of the Civil War. If we blend this together, we could use an obscene run-on sentence to say that experience is a great teacher in different ways at different points in our lives, and there are experiences that are completely isolated to ourselves, that happen privately without any outside influence, and there are experiences that are facilitated for us by people or by exposure to environments or events.

Below, you see 4 generations of Monahans (Robert, Robert, Robert and Sam) who all believe Dominick's Famous Hot Dog truck in Queens, NY makes the best hot dogs on earth. My father remembers visiting the truck with his father, and I remember visiting it with my father as a young boy. My son will always remember visiting with me as well. Compared to every other hot dog I have ever eaten, Dominick's really holds its own as a standout competitor. Fond memories of bonding and sharing an experience together with people I love introduces some serious bias though. Also, how many hot dogs have I eaten and from how many places? Compared to the available pool of options worldwide, not that many.

This short and simple example raises some serious questions about cause and effect scenarios in education settings. What the learner comes to the table with (prior knowledge, misconceptions, bias, logical fallacies) mixed with the same things brought to the table by the teacher, or facilitator, yields some very interesting end-products. I think the facilitation aspect of being an educator and taking kids on a learning journey should have a little to do with the amount of content they absorb and a lot to do with the development of certain cognitive skills and processes that allow them to identify, process, analyze and apply the most important elements of the content in various contexts. In short, helping them learn to not only think for themselves, but to think powerfully and to take control of their own learning. Now more than ever before, content is raining down on kids all the time, and that is why I continue to research and practice ways to create and adapt processing systems and behaviors that help kids to thrive and grow instead of them just getting wet all the time.

Hello, my name is Rob, and I'm a daydreamer.


I recently watched In & Of Itself on Hulu and found it to be a profoundly connected expressive artistic representation of the theme of this article (which was written before I had seen the show). Here is a breakdown by Casey Cipriani in a article (which I'm using because I am still trying to process what I experienced and witnessed after having watched the show!):

Created by Derek DelGaudio and directed by Frank Oz, In & Of Itself premiered in Los Angeles in 2016 before making its way to an intimate off-Broadway theater in New York City. Once there, the show sold out all 150 seats night after night, and became an off-Broadway phenomenon, running for 72 weeks, 560 performances, and grossing $7 million. DelGaudio details that in the creation of In & Of Itself he, "wanted to explore the illusory nature of identity; how we rely on labels and definitions to identify one another; and how, paradoxically and inevitably, those labels obscure who we really are.

If you get a chance, I highly recommend watching and digesting In & Of Itself.

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Updated: Jan 9, 2021

Part 1: Screen Time

“Screen Time” is a huge topic of discussion and often times a sore point for families these days. Most parents aren't sure how to approach this because there is an endless amount of contradiction in terms of what is considered best practice. On one side, "experts" tell us that screens basically rot the brain, while "experts" on the other side of the argument call for as much screen time as we can give our kids to prepare for the future. Now that we are immersed in a situation in which we will need to facilitate learning from home on a large scale for an indefinite amount of time, I wanted to provide a snapshot of some of the ways in which you can manage screen time in an educational and cognitive context.

Just like there are no true widespread rules for everyone regarding nutrition (since we are all biochemically individual) there are no hard and fast rules for how kids learn best or for educational levers like screen time because every learner is also unique. Screen time can be divided into a variety of categories but let’s just use production and consumption time as our primary foci. I find that parents typically try to limit consumption time and promote production time but sometimes the line between the two can be blurred. YouTube and Netflix, for example, have replaced television watching to a large extent these days, and that can actually be beneficial (Below I am including the steps to enter into the back end of the Netflix database to build a library of shows and documentaries that you think could be valuable on the consumption side for the kids...and yourself). Let's start with a general look at some of the ways the kids consume media first.


Consumption (This includes watching and listening):

1) YouTube/Twitch: My son (Sam) watches some things for Minecraft videos or gaming vids and he’s not alone. The video game streaming site was purchased by Amazon a few years ago for nearly one billion dollars. While we don’t hear about the cognitive benefits of playing and watching games and eSports in the mainstream media, there is plenty of research out there to confirm them.

Sam also watches things like Ants Canada because he loves studying ants. This is really a personal decision per family, but YouTube can be a phenomenal educational resource. Just keep the device logged into YOUR Gmail account and you will be able to track the entire history of vids your child sees. Block channels that are inappropriate or just subscribe to channels that are "approved" by you and limit watching to those channels. Examples of channels that I personally enjoy for their educational and entertainment values are:

Some of My Favorites:

The Action Lab

Slow Mo Guys

Mark Rober



Brave Wilderness

Papa Jake

Klesh Guitars

Baz Battles

2) (Some free vids, but a subscription is needed for site-wide access). Find out from your child's school or district if they have a license to gain you free access.

3) Netflix: First, go to the Netflix site and log in. To access the "hidden" netflix content.. visit this link. To see the Science and Nature category for example.. You'd go here.

Basically, there is a master link:

and you simply change the "xxxx" to the 4 or 5 digit code attached to the genre or category you want to browse from the link above. Once you see something you want the kids to watch, you click on it and then hit the plus sign to "add it to your library.” Now you can limit the kids to watching the "my list" vids in either their profile or yours..however you want to set it up.

3a) As an add-on, take a look at

They have some cool questions that allow you to “Turn Any Movie Into a Learning Opportunity” (their tagline).

4) Outschool: “Where Kids Love Learning” (We can call this interactive consumption).

I don’t have much experience using Outschool as a resource with students but I have some friends who have used it with their kids. If nothing else, there are lots of options as there are over 10,000 small group-chat video classes!

*One example is Video Game Design Ages 7-10


Production (This includes apps and games where there is strategy, engineering, higher-order thinking, codebreaking, designing and other active brain processes happening...this is not a complete list.)

1) Apps and Games:


Monument Valley

Monument Valley 2


Guess the Code

Clockwork Brain

Robot Factory

Puzzlemaker (Discovery Education)

TinkerCAD (3-D printing lessons and design tool for kids)


Code Combat

Code Kingdoms



Hybrid: Fortnite, Minecraft, Roblox, Multiplayer Games

Fortnite and similar games aren't really strictly one thing or the other. There is a great deal of strategy and ingenuity involved and both watching and playing can also be as entertaining as watching Saturday morning cartoons in 1982. There is weaponry involved though so like many other things, this is a family decision. For games like these, I limit my son's time to anywhere between 30 minutes and an hour per day on school days. He gets to have more screen time overall though, as I like to mix up the different types. As long as he is balancing time with friends, outdoor time, indoor non-screen time and indoor-screen time, he can have 2+ hours of screen time per day with extra on weekends or rainy days. One of the most entertaining moments I’ve had with students was tasking them with teaching me to play Fortnite in real-time. We entered the game together and they needed to keep my character alive. They were only allowed to give verbal instructions and could not commandeer my controller.

One game my students and I love is Mushroom Wars 2. There is a campaign-style quest that can be tackled over time and you can also set up matches against people from around the world. We also sometimes play each other in 1v1 (One versus one) matches at home. There are a ton of games out there like this, so again, choose something that both you and your child are interested in or have them teach you how to play a game they love to play.

Another favorite of mine is a game that requires two players and provides a similar type of user communication interaction is:

Keep Talking and Nobody Explodes

Here is an excerpt from a Reddit post by u/Hopeful_Tom:

Without giving away any major spoilers, to win as the person defusing the bomb, you will need to describe in incredible detail and at incredible pace what you’re seeing on the screen. Then you’ll have to follow the instructions given to you by your teammates, and hope they got it right. Potentially working fast to flip the bomb over or read off additional information. The cognitive load can pile up fast, which just makes it more fun and exhilarating. As the bomb-tech with the instruction manual, you’ll have to take in information and quickly parse what type of puzzle you’re dealing with (there are a good variety); then, you’ll have to find that section of the instruction manual in your packet. Once you understand the parameters of the specific puzzle, you’ll have some decoding or matching to do and then will have to intelligibly (easier typed than done) relay that information to your partner without any visual aids.


Below is a sample chart.. It is customizable. For instance, maybe one child has more interest in games like Fortnite than they do in watching shows right now. They could easily spend 50% of their Screen Time allowance on Fortnite and the other 50% on a blend of Educational Production items. That is totally up to the parent. At the end of the day, the most important thing to have is communication and rules that are in place because they make sense. Be upfront and direct regarding the rules and communicate expectations in a straightforward way with your child(ren). Screen time will become a friend rather than a foe.

Thanks for reading!

Coming Soon: Part 2: Board Games and Card Games

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