Engineer with Passion for Science Demystifies Intimidating Concepts through Game Play

Engineer with Passion for Science Demystifies Intimidating Concepts through Game Play

Science Focused Game Company premieres 3rd Crowd-funding campaign

John Coveyou nearly dropped out of high-school while living out of his car, but is now a Iraq  Veteran, a scholar from the prestigious Washington University, holds a master’s degree in engineering and now plans to successfully crowd-fund his 3rd science-themed game to shake the chemistry education community.

Coveyou nearly dropped out of high school while he lived out of his car and worked the night shift at IHOP. He typifies himself as a student who was fascinated with science from an early age, but thought he would never have the capabilities and knowledge necessary to succeed in such an intimidating field. At 17 he joined the military, little knowing that a few years later he would find himself serving his country in Iraq. “Iraq was a difficult and lonely time when one of my biggest solaces was watching Chemistry & Biology lectures from MIT on the tiny screen of my IPod! It was definitely out of the norm for a soldier to spend his time learning science.”

Upon returning home, Coveyou enrolled in St. Louis Community College – Meramec (STLCC) where he excelled in school. In stark comparison to High School, Coveyou thrived in college, accumulating nearly a 4.0 and was invited to give the commencement speech for his graduating class in 2007.

Coveyou then applied to the prestigious Washington University, successfully competed for one of the two yearly Elizabeth Grey Danforth Scholarships, and was awarded a full-tuition scholarship. From there, Coveyou went on to get a degree in Environmental Biology and his Master’s Degree in Energy, Environmental and Chemical Engineering. But after working at an engineering firm and teaching chemistry at STLCC he couldn’t bury the passion he had to teach kids how accessible and cool science could be. So, he quit his well-paid engineering job to start his own educational board game company, Genius Games.

His first game, Linkage: A DNA Card Game took off with over 600 backers on Kickstarter, raising over 300% of his goal in just one month, and was later featured in Popular Science Magazine as one of the “Top 10 Things from February 2015” completely blowing away his expectations. Continuing to address this need, Coveyou launched a game that was the biological follow up to Linkage, Peptide: A Protein Building Game six months later.

It was clear Coveyou found a niche for a country struggling in its STEM (Science, Technology, Engineering and Mathematics) education. In the United States, student literacy in STEM subjects has continued to decline – our students currently rank at the 52nd percentile for STEM literacy globally. While Middle and high school students find science “boring” or “intimidating”, they voluntarily engage in an average of two hours a day playing video and tabletop games. More often than not however, these games distance kids from reality rather than engaging them in it. Coveyou states, “Traditionally, games are meant only for entertainment and are therefore not normally played inside school. School is meant to educate, but traditionally it hasn’t been very fun. My hope is to design games that are a blast to play, but simultaneously demystify intimidating concepts in the sciences”. Coveyou’s plan is simple. Why not make learning complex subjects like science more like playing a game? Students “study” what they need to learn in order to excel at the game, so why not give them games about real-life science topics.  

On April 8th, Coveyou will be launching his third tabletop game, Ion: A Compound Building Game, on Kickstarter. The mechanics for this fast-paced game grew from one of the most fundamental concepts in chemistry, Ionic Bonding. In everyday terms, Ionic Bonding is the process by which elements with a charge join to form some of the most common compounds we use every day. Coveyou says “I think games are a fun and engaging way to comprehend the over-complicated process through which the sciences are normally taught in school. Game learning can also increase long-term retention and set the foundation for life-long learners.”  

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