This is a sponsored post written in partnership with Brain Chase and The Motherhood
One of the biggest challenges for parents is keeping kids engaged during the summer months and it’s something I start thinking about well before the school year is over. Between camp and time at the pool for dive practice, I’m always looking for fun ways for my two kids (ages 8 and 11) to practice the things they learned during the year so they retain knowledge gained. I know it’s a struggle to get our kids to keep up math and reading skills between the time school ends and begins again. As much as we have good intentions to complete summer packets that come home, they feel like a chore for all of us.
But we know that the dreaded summer brain drain is real. A 2011 RAND study found that by the end of summer, the average student performs one to two months behind where they left off in the spring. Months of meaningful instruction is lost when teachers have to reteach to rebuild knowledge that evaporated during the summer
Since I know that my children are more likely to participate in fun challenges that integrate learning in meaningful ways, I was very excited to learn about Brain Chase, a 5-week online summer learning challenge for 2nd through 8th graders that involves using reading, writing and math skills in massive global treasure hunt for a golden mechanical treasure that comes with a $10,000 scholarship and trophy.
This year’s Brain Chase challenge is to find the Sunstone of Cortés, a mysterious calendar stolen from the Aztec empire by Hernan Cortés in the 1500s. Kids join Mae Merriweather, her brother Max, athletic Sean Drake, and former nemesis Savannah Bryce to find the fictional Sunstone of Cortés… and the real one!
This learning adventure is an incredible motivational tool for getting kids to do online academic work during the summer through a personalized learning platform that provides differentiated learning that’s just right for them.
How Brain Chase Works
1. Start the Chase
At 9 a.m. ET on Monday, June 22, 2015,Brain Chase: The Sunstone of Cortés begins. Adventurers log in to watch the first animated webisode and meet Mae Merriweather, the star of the show. Then kids dive into their first week of learning challenges. A proprietary (patent pending) learning management system – the “Dashboard” – tracks each student’s progress as they journey through the 5-week challenge.
2. Unlock the Adventure
Each week the adventurers have four tasks: read for 15 minutes per day, write one journal entry, earn 10,000 points on Khan Academy, and do one bonus challenge. When they’re done, they unlock the next webisode, which contains hidden pictures, numbers, and riddles to help them guess the treasure’s location.
3. Follow the Story
Mae Merriweather and her friends from the Grayson Academy of Antiquities are hot on the trail the mysterious Sunstone of Cortés. To find it, they travel to the Himalayas, dive off the coast of Greece, and solve riddles. But there is more to the quest — and treasure — than they realize.
4. Find the Buried Treasure
The hunt for the Sunstone isn’t just fiction – there is a real golden Sunstone of Cortés and $10,000 buried somewhere on Earth. Every 24 hours, adventurers can log in to enter their guess of the treasure’s location. The first adventurer to guess the location within a two-mile radius travels with his/her family to the treasure site to claim the gold.
Differentiated Learning Through Brain Chase Challenges
Brain Chase provides a one size fits all model in that the bonus challenges and treasure hunt are the same for everyone, but everything else can be completely customized to meet the individual student’s level. Brain Chase and their partner platforms can be customized to the academic level of your student. Khan Academy does a pre-test to help students begin in the right place. For reading, participants can choose their own book. The myON reading platform even gives beginning readers the option of having the books read TO them or selecting books that are just right for them. For example, if you have a high school student, they can select a second grade reading level, or if they’re in second grade and want to read Moby Dick, they could do that too!
If there are multiple children in a family, each sibling has their own Dashboard to complete academic challenges individually, working at the personal level that’s right for them (depending on where they are with reading, writing and math). Even though academic challenges are done by each child, the treasure hunt can be collaborative. Families and friends are encouraged to work together to figure out the clues to the treasure.
Completing Brain Chase Challenges in a Flexible Way
Besides being fun and entertaining, 94% of parents whose children participated in the 2014 challenge agreed that Brain Chase helped their children stay sharp over the summer through a flexible learning adventure that took roughly 4-5 hours per week. Brain Chase creators want the Challenge to be flexible. They want kids to go outside, go to camp and travel. While families should budget about five hours of work each week, they also make it easy to get caught up! If they miss a day, it’s not a problem. If you’re on vacation, you can get caught up on the previous week when you get back. The only rule is that they can’t jump forward to a new week before that week begins, because the creators don’t want anyone to review clues early.
Using Video Clues to Find the Treasure
After kids complete their work, they unlock the animated videos containing clues to the treasure’s location. Once videos are unlocked, kids and parents can go back and review them whenever they want, as many times as they want over the course of the program. Sometimes it will take a few times to see hidden numbers and maps and letters in the videos.
Kids can guess the treasure’s location once every 24 hours. Once they drop a pin on the virtual map, a time counts down 24 hours until they can guess again. If they don’t guess within that 24-hour period, they lose their turn for that day, but they can guess again the next day.
Created with Safety in Mind
Out of safety, students cannot interact with others directly online through the platform. There is an active Facebook page that became a fun destination last summer for families to interact with others and discuss each week’s clues.
Brain Chase Pricing and Benefits
In addition to returning to school confident and fresh in September, kid adventurers participating in Brain Chase get:
- 5 weeks of structured challenges on external reading and math websites
- Weekly writing exercises with feedback from credentialed teachers
- Weekly progress reports emailed to parents
- Exclusive access to an original animated adventure series loaded with hidden puzzles and clues
- 3 adventure tools mailed to your home to help solve special bonus challenges
- Participation in a massive global treasure hunt for a golden trophy containing the key to a safe deposit box holding $10,000
Brain Chase is $149 per child until April 15 ($199 after April 15) and siblings can be added for $100 each. Get 15% off Brain Chase sign-ups with the code: TECHSAVVY15
Brain Chase works on the major PC browsers, as well as iPads. Brain Chase isn’t yet available for mobile devices but chances are you wouldn’t want to complete the challenges or work on the treasure hunt on such a small screen!
About the Prize and Prize Rules
The winner of the $10,000 scholarship and trophy can be from any one of 48 states, excluding Maryland and Colorado due to promotion laws in those two states. Kids in Maryland and Colorado can still participate in Brain Chase – do the assignments and work on the clues – but they’re not eligible to win the grand prize. (If a kid from Maryland or Colorado is the first to guess the correct location, although they can’t be the official winner, Brain Chase says they will ensure they are recognized and receive a gift for their accomplishment!) Brain Chase winners can also be from the UK, Mexico and Canada (excluding Quebec).
This is a sponsored post written in partnership with Brain Chase and The Motherhood. All opinions are my own.