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Happy Atoms and Math Games: New Ed Businesses Win Federal Seed Money

The U.S. Education Department's research agency will help 15 new education entrepreneurs conduct research and development for interventions in science, language arts and other areas.

The Institute of Education Sciences' small business innovation program is intended to help education researchers and entrepreneurs come together to produce more evidence-based products. The education market has proved difficult for teachers and researchers to navigate, and while more venture capitalists are investing in the field, start-up programs like IES's have won fans.

This afternoon it awarded a dozen short-term, six-month contracts of up to $150,000 each to help companies test and refine prototypes like eSparkBeat, an electronic dashboard that would allow elementary and middle school teachers to create tablet-based playlists of content for their classroom.

Several focused on game-based learning for science concepts, like a "happy atoms" game in development by Schell Games, known for the web site associated with PBS' "Daniel Tiger" cartoon, and Strange Loop's Eco, a simulated world in which high school students work in groups to solve environmental problems.

IES separately provided nearly $900,000 for the next two years to continue the development of Access: Language Arts, a tablet application intended to help students with significant learning disabilities participate in the new Common Core State Standards.

You can check out the full list of education companies receiving support here.

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