The students were encouraged to incorporate the physical community into their games, so they spent time snapping pictures of local gardens, for example, or researching insects and animals found in their community.
While the youth learned about science, they honed their writing skills by analyzing game designs as texts that have audiences, purposes, and structures. They also read and wrote about their games. Finally, they developed public speaking skills when communicating how to play their games and offering feedback to others.
Finally, the big day arrived—it was time to debut their creations at the carnival. Would the games work? Would people like them? What parts worked better than others? The youth would soon know the answers.
The students arrived with some trepidation but soon warmed to the crowd. As for the crowd, they had a blast. They dove into the science challenges the games created, including a dance-off when they answered a science question incorrectly. They also learned something new about their city. “One game had a neighborhood theme with pictures around the board,” said co-teacher and technology head Ronald Houston. “When you landed on that picture, you answered a science question in order to advance and you got learn a little bit about the area as well.”
The educators learned something as well. Partnering with others brought new ways of thinking and doing things, which spurred their own creativity, the educators said.
“As an educator,” said Houston, “I’m used to making things go in a very orderly and organized fashion. During this process, the idea of free-flowing creativity and not knowing the final product during the process was refreshing. It created a new level of excitement for both teacher and student. I loved watching the minds work, the revisions and pride in the final outcome—and all the while we were both learning about science.”
To ensure that others can benefit from this project, the team developed an online curriculum for others to use, along with other information and materials necessary to invent and play games infused with science content.