about penda activities

Brain Research & neurobiology

Penda is built upon brain-researched concepts of neurobiology. Brain research and the physiology of learning have demonstrated that there is a strong connection between students’ emotions and their learning. The research demonstrates that engagement is the key to students remembering content, becoming self-motivated, and finding educational success.  Penda also uses the principle of choice to facilitate student engagement. Neurobiology indicates that when students have choices, they are more likely to competently complete a task and remember the content. Studies have found connections between learning and emotions, memory, and real life experiences.  Significant student gains can be made with just 30 minutes of independent practice per week in each content area. Students develop independent learning skills as they engage with Penda’s content and gaming features. Penda allows students to access all of the content anywhere there is an Internet connection. The unique gaming platform ensures that students practice even outside the classroom.


  • Students go beyond authentic engagement and enter a state of “flow,” which allows them to concentrate for longer periods of time.

  • Engagement activates both the auditory and visual areas of the brain that help create meaning, and anchor learning through contextual experiences.

  • Avatars and competition engage students at the emotional level. Students choose friends from their school/grade level to make up their Penda Learning world. As they complete activities they race around the Penda world visiting different countries and receiving trophies and medals.

  • Personalized student pages are highly interactive and visually stimulating. They capture students’ interest and engage their competitive nature.

Activity design

Brain-Based Learning strategies & pedagogy


The pedagogy for Penda Learning is based on the latest brain research and learning strategies in regard to content delivery, questioning types, interaction types and gaming. Brain research reveals that learning is enhanced by complex and meaningful challenges.

Penda Learning utilizes Webb’s Depth of Knowledge Levels, stretching the learner’s skill set. The rigorous activities literally carve out neuron pathways in the student’s brain, allowing them to store and retrieve the information later. When students engage in additional independent practice on the gaming platform, teachers receive targeted, weekly data to make data driven decisions.

With Penda, students have the opportunity to practice content recently taught, to continue to practice concepts not yet mastered and revisit concepts not seen for several months. This allows the student to have a cyclical experience with the content and thus become more proficient.


Penda Learning uses Piaget’s scaffolding of the concepts. The first couple of screens dip below the concept wanting to be practiced so that students can have that “AHA!” moment of remembering some information about the concept. This allows them to access that prior knowledge and find success right up front. Students find this motivating enough to complete the activity.

The scaffolding of the content and the varying levels of cognitive complexity provide each student the opportunity to master the prerequisite skills needed to be successful on targeted learning outcomes.  Scaffolding the concepts ensures that students with learning challenges and language barriers find academic success. By placing small chunks of content on the screen, these students can improve their learning outcomes. Brain research indicates that this yields a rush of the chemical Dopamine, which is a neurotransmitter needed to engage long term memory, engage students further, and motivate them to continue when the cognitive complexity increases.

Scaffolding also allows students to progress at their own pace. Activities are not timed and can be repeated as often as a student or teacher feels it is necessary to do so. Because students have access to the content at all times and they want to earn “points” and compete with their friends, they feel empowered to take control of their learning. Penda has made it easy for students to see which activities are mastered with the green, yellow and red progress reporting system. Motivated students who have mastered concepts can choose to work ahead, while those who are struggling with a particular concept can repeat the activity or choose lower level activities on that same concept without the fear of embarrassment. 


Game mechanics & student experience

Penda infuses gamification and game mechanics  to authentically engage students' emotionally during learning. Students complete each Penda activity from start to finish and are awarded points based upon their achievement. Student receive points for their efforts in completing the activity as well as points for answering questions correctly on their first attempt. While students can complete any activity as many times as they wish for practice, they only earn points during their first three attempts.


  • Determine the student's ranking/standing in their private competition among up to 10 friends the student selected

  • Determine the student's ranking/standing on the community leaderboard, of which the student can opt-out of at any time

  • Unlock games and features found within the Penda World as well as advance the student through the Penda World

  • Allow the student's avatar to travel to a new Penda World to explore - things to do, places to go, people to see

  • Unlock an avatar wardrobe that allows the student to customize their avatars appearance, clothes, gear, etc.

  • Collect points, trophies, medals, and recognition.