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'Re/code Decode': Two Bit Circus Says Games Can Inspire a Generation of Engineers

Education is broken, Two Bit Circus CEO Brent Bushnell and CTO Eric Gradman say. Can a carnival fix it?

Tyler Pina for Re/code

It’s a question we’ve been asking for decades: What does it take to get children more interested in science and engineering?

That answer has changed over time, of course. But for today’s kids, Los Angeles-based “social amusement” company Two Bit Circus thinks mixing learning with art and games is the key to the future.

“There’s no shortage of kids that are not excited about science and engineering,” Two Bit Circus CEO Brent Bushnell said in this week’s new episode of the “Re/code Decode” podcast with Kara Swisher. “We want to get them over that gap.”

Bushnell was joined by his co-founder and CTO Eric Gradman, who designed many of the games seen recently at the STEAM Carnival in San Francisco. The three-day event included such sights as a fire-based dunk tank and a stable of competitive-racing horses, albeit rocking horses, made of wood.

 The propane-fueled Dunk Tank Flambé
The propane-fueled Dunk Tank Flambé
Two Bit Circus

“Kids have a good time first, and are therefore inspired to understand how it was made,” Gradman said.

Following its San Francisco launch, the STEAM Carnival is set to travel to four more cities — Seattle, Dallas, Chicago and Charlotte — in 2016. Later on in the show, The Verge’s Lauren Goode joined Swisher to talk about the new BlackBerry Priv and whether it’s any competition for Swisher’s beloved iPhone.

If you like what you hear on “Re/code Decode,” you should check out “Re/code Replay,” an archive of audio content from our events and interviews by Swisher, Walt Mossberg, Peter Kafka, Ina Fried and more.

Every episode for both shows is available in two places: On the Re/code Radio homepage and on Apple iTunes (here for “Re/code Decode” and here for “Re/code Replay”).

You can follow @Recode on Twitter for the latest on upcoming guests.

If you like what we’re doing, please write a review on iTunes — and, if you don’t, just strafe Kara on Twitter. You can also suggest guests for the show there and we’ll try our level best to nab them for a Red Chair interview.

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