Gamestar Mechanic Teacher Blog

All posts from February, 2013

Kids Teaching Kids (and Parents)


Posted Feb. 12, 2013

CategoryGaming Community, Gaming Education


Sometimes the hardest part about teaching game design workshops is simply getting the participants to focus.  When kids (or adults!) get started designing games, it’s often tricky to pull their attention back to the group for a discussion, reflection session, or to move on to the next activity.  Sometimes it’s also hard to get participants motivated to work with people they don’t know, or on a project that doesn’t immediately seem intriguing.  Well, I think we found the solution to those issues: have kids teach kids.

We are in the middle of a workshop series around the National STEM Video Game Challenge.  This past weekend I attended a workshop at the American Museum of Natural History here in NYC.  While I’m usually the one leading these workshops, this time the workshop series is being lead by a group of awesome high schoolers from Global Kids.  I worked with the Global Kids before, so I knew they were great, but I hadn’t seen them in the role of teacher.  Our participants this past weekend were mostly middle and elementary school kids and a few parents.  Watching the kids respond to their high school-aged teachers was really inspiring; they were curious, engaged and ready to participate.  There’s something about kids learning from other kids who are just a few years older that makes the participants feel connected to the content – they actually see in front of them the opportunity for themselves to grow into game design experts.  They know it’s possible for kids to be awesome game designers and digital leaders because there is proof right there in their teachers.

Another key piece of the puzzle were the few scattered parents in the workshop.  These parents were not pro gamers and so had to defer to the Global Kids for expert advice.  Watching adults be the students, and the students be the teachers was empowering for all parties.  Kids saw they could teach their parents, parents saw potential for their kids to be youth leaders, and youth leaders validated their expertise by successfully engaging and teaching both parents and kids.

Did I mention this was a six hour workshop?  Global Kids kept the energy high, the kids learning, and the atmosphere controlled the entire time.  Hats off to kids teaching kids!

Apprentice Badge


Posted Feb. 08, 2013

CategoryGaming Community, Gaming Education


Recently, the Gamestar team added two World Badges to the Gamestar Workshop.  The Apprentice Badge is for learners to prove they are ready to start on their pathway to being game designers.  The Mentor Badge is for educators to demonstrate they can effectively lead young game designers on their pathways.

While earning the Apprentice Badge is something that Gamestar players can do by themselves, taking your class through the badge together can be a fun and effective learning experience.

So, are your students ready to identify as game design apprentices?  This lesson plan walks you through the steps you need to have your students earn the Apprentice Badge as a class activity. This badge is portable (part of Mozilla’s Open Badge movement), so you can now show your commitment to others in the Gamestar Mechanic community, AND to fellow designers around the world.

The Apprentice Badge, as well as other badges on the Open Badge system, are representations of learning that may not be normally recognized.  We believe that when kids make games and go through the game design process, they deserve to be recognized for their hard work and the knowledge they gained.