This Veterans Day, former Iraq veteran and Washington University scholar John Coveyou plans to successfully crowd-fund his 2nd educational game. A St. Louis native, Coveyou never imagined at 30 he would have a Masters Degree from Washington University and be running his own business – Genius Games.
At just 17 years old, John Coveyou was living out of his car and working the night shift at IHOP. He nearly dropped out of his Junior year at Marquette High School and decided to join the military in hope of a better future. A few years later, he found himself in Iraq. “It was a difficult, lonely time...” Coveyou remembers. “...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 free time learning science.”
After leaving service, Coveyou returned to St. Louis and enrolled in St. Louis Community College – Meramec (STLCC), where he excelled, accumulating nearly a 4.0, and was invited to give a commencement speech for his graduating class in 2007. After graduating, John applied to Washington University. “Receiving the letter of acceptance was simultaneously one of the most exciting and depressing moments of my life,” he says. “I had to face the reality that I had the potential to do something great, but there was no way I could afford it.”
John received a call from a representative of the Elizabeth Danforth scholarship, however, which gave two STLCC students each year a full ride to Washington University. He made it to the 2nd round of the Scholarship, gaining a chance to speak with the committee. After relaying his adventures with the military, mission trips to Africa & Honduras, and his passion for science, the committee awarded him the scholarship.
At WashU, John got a degree in Environmental Biology and his Master's Degree in Energy, Environmental and Chemical Engineering. After school, he worked at an Engineering firm and taught chemistry at STLCC. Although he had a great engineering job, Coveyou had a nagging passion to teach kids how enjoyable and cool science was. This led him to quit his job and start Genius Games, an educational board game company. The company's first game, Linkage: A DNA Card Game, raised over 300% of its goal on Kickstarter with over 600 backers in just one month. This blew away Coveyou's expectations. Genius Games seemed to be a solution to a country of parents and teachers struggling in its STEM education. The game is currently available to purchase through Amazon.com and recommended for 10+. It's not just for middle and high school educators—the game is very popular with gaming enthusiasts of all ages!
The company’s second and most recent science-based game, Peptide: A Protein Building Game has already reached 38% of its goal on Kickstarter in just over a week, and the plan is to have it fully funded by November 11th, Veterans Day. “I wanted to end on Veterans Day as a symbol that returning veterans are out here and capable of big things when given the chance,” says Coveyou.
See the Kickstarter for Peptide: A Protein Building Game here.
More information about Genius Games here.
Buy Linkage: A DNA Card Game here.
This article was rewritten based on an article by Marla Stoker.