One of the “awesomest” projects I get to work on here at E-Line is our Gamestar Mechanic school project with our partners at FHI 360. FHI 360 does many wonderful things, including working with a network of public schools here in NYC. For three years in a row, we’ve given these middle schools the opportunity to participate in a Gamestar Mechanic program. Here are the basics:
Training: We train teachers to use Gamestar Mechanic as an effective learning tool. We have had after school teachers, math teachers, technology teachers, social studies teachers, art teachers, science teachers and librarians participate in the program. Each teacher uses Gamestar a little differently in their classroom, but all with the same goal of cultivating problem solving and systems thinking skills.
Partnership: We work closely throughout the spring semester with teachers to make sure their questions are answered and their classes run smoothly. The best part is we get to visit the schools all the time to interact with the teachers and students in person.
Competition: Each year, we gear up classes for an interscholastic game design challenge. Kids in every school form groups and make games that they submit to the designers here at Gamestar Mechanic. Professional game designers give feedback on each game and the kids have time to iterate on their games according to feedback. Then one group is chosen by the Gamestar designers from each class to represent their school in the game jam.
Game Jam: FHI 360 hosts an awesome event for representative groups from each school. Kids meet at the FHI 360 offices to create games on the spot to a specific prompt that they learn about that day. After an hour of rapid and intense game design, judges deliberate on the games and choose an interscholastic champion. While all teams get prizes, the champion team gets a trophy and recognition to take back to their school. Each year this game jam has been full of energy, pride, and great design skills from some super talented kids.
We’re happy to work with FHI 360 to offer this professional development and programming to schools that might otherwise not be able to use game design in their classrooms. This year our Game Jam is in early June and we’ll keep you posted on how it goes!