by Bev Vaillancourt, Editorial Director
On the heels of a very successful climate game jam held last September, the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration is planning another game jam for April 15 – April 24, 2016. The theme is “Water”! While game jams usually are “jammed” into a 48-hour time period with no breaks, the Spring game jam has a much different structure.
In order to accommodate school schedules, the NOAA’s Spring game jam will span 10 days, with a total of 48 hours dedicated to designing a game within the 10 days. This allows teachers and community groups a lot of flexibility. An entire school day can be dedicated to the game jam, with time spent on following days to improve the game. Teachers also could opt to restrict the game jam one concentrated time period with follow up iteration before the prototype is ready for review.
Four age categories have been established for the Spring Game Jam:
A variety of game development tools will be allowed, from basic paper prototypes to Scratch to GameSalad to Unity. Individuals will be competing for top game design honors within their age group and within their game design tool category.
Specific science categories related to water have been identified, as well. Game Designers will be able to choose from several important water related topics including including Changing Precipitation Patterns to Marine Biodiversity to Polar Issues, and much more. The Spring game jam offers a very unique opportunity for students to work as design teams, learn a lot of science facts, consider very important and timely environmental issues, and have a lot of fun building a game that can be used to teach others about water issues.
Interested in learning more? If you are wondering how to organize and conduct a game jam, stay tuned. Zulama will be providing you with “how to” information in mid-March. More to come soon on the NOAA website, as well! Take a break with your students and enjoy creating a game for NOAA. Who knows? You may join the September game design team from Elizabeth Forward High School and have your game showcased on the NOAA website!
Hot Off the Presses!
A recent study published in the journal Psychological Science and reported in Education Week (Volume 35, No. 21) highlights that showcasing exceptional work has a negative impact on struggling students. Researchers Todd Rogers of Harvard University and Avi Feller of the University of California found that when all students attempt similar assignments, struggling students quickly size up the possibility of generating work of equal quality to high functioning students and lose interest in the assignment. The results of this important study underscores the value of students working in design teams where each member of the team brings his or her strengths to the project. It’s not that students should be shielded from comparison of student accomplishments. Rather it is students learning that measuring up really means setting personal goals for achievement and helping others build their skills in a collaborative way. It’s the power of game design in every Zulama classroom.