The trio of Jessica Ochoa Hendrix, Lindsay Portnoy, and Holford has created a game about killer snails to pass accurate information to all the children in an interesting manner.
FREMONT, CA: Snails are considered as slow-moving and harmless creatures, but the marine cone snail doesn’t fit the stereotype. This predator eats fish, worms, and mollusks, using a deadly venom cocktail delivered through a very sharp tooth to attack its victims. A New York City startup started a card and video game called Killer Snails. To create games to get children interested in science, the company has raised over $1 million in grants and Kickstarter funding since 2016.
The founders have also created Biome Builder, a card game where players learn about creatures from biomes such as the Amazon rainforest and the American Prairie. They have even dreamed up two virtual reality games: Scuba Adventures, where players take on the identity of a marine biologist who is tagging creatures before an oxygen tank runs out of the air. The other is BioDive, an ecology curriculum supplement, where players act as marine biologists investigating the ecosystems of venomous killer snails. The latter is being piloted at middle schools in 26 states.
Co-founder Mandë Holford says that they wanted to meet the kids where they were. Generally, kids are on screens and playing games, so they wanted to give them content that could be engaging and scientifically accurate, to make them excited about the field of science.
To create the fast-growing company, the women behind this ultra-lean business have tapped their backgrounds in K-12 education and science. CEO and co-founder of this company Jessica Ochoa Hendrix have worked in K-12 education since 2003 and was previously director of organizational learning at Uncommon Schools, a network of nonprofit charter public schools. Co-founder Lindsay Portnoy, the firm’s chief learning officer, is a cognitive psychologist and scientist. Holford is working as an associate professor of chemistry at Hunter College and CUNY-Graduate Center, with scientific appointments at the American Museum of Natural History.
After conducting more than 100 interviews with parents, teachers, and museum educators, they realized something was missing in the available science games. The existing games were not engaging middle school girls. This led them to create an interesting game about killer snails.