Elizabeth Forward High School
When Mary Wilson heard about the National STEM Video Game Challenge, she was obviously very excited. She knew her students were up to the task, so she gave them the chance to compete nationally against other students.
With the deadline being only a few weeks away, her students have been hard at work perfecting their games. In December, Elizabeth Forward held a school-day game-jam in its Media Center. After the teams were assembled and organized, the students came up with a game idea, and began designing and coding. When creating teams, students thought strategically about the roles that need filled. Each student has a position based on their strengths: artist, programmer, designer, or storyteller. These game design projects are great for promoting collaboration and showcasing 21st Century skills, truly a fantastic way to include all areas of STEAM. Since the game- jam, Mary’s students have worked on their games in their free time while at home, in study hall, and after school in order to prepare for the challenge.
Past winners of the National Video Game Challenge have come from all over the country with topics ranging from biology, environmentalism, and leadership skills. The lucky few present their games at the annual White House Science Fair and meet celebrities, like Bill Nye, and other top officials from various government agencies, like NASA. Nic Balida, a 2013 winner of the National STEM Video Game Challenge, discusses his experiences at the White House Science Fair in Allison Mishkin’s article, “STEM Challenge Winner Nic Badila Attends White House Science Fair.”
Nic says that “[t]he next generation is our future, and learning to program taught [him] that [he] can literally create whatever [he] want[s]. More kids need to do that.”1 This is exactly what Mary’s students do everyday. She has them discovering, experimenting, and creating. These are the skills our 21st century learners need to be successful and ones that are integral to the Maker Movement.