Gamestar Mechanic Teacher Blog

All posts in the “Events” Category

Youth Game Designers at the White House Science Fair

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Posted Feb. 08, 2012

CategoryChallenges and Contests, Events, Games by Kids

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I think it was when we walked past the battery of TV cameras and photographers in the East Room that it hit me: these kids are being recognized at the White House… by the President… for designing video games!

As the leader of the Gamestar Mechanic team here at E-Line Media and coordinator of the National STEM Video Game Challenge Youth Prize, I had the pleasure of accompanying two of our 2010 winners as they participated in the White House Science Fair on February 7th.

Tuesday’s event was the second Science Fair to take place at the White House during President Obama’s administration and represents his commitment to recognizing outstanding student achievement. As the President put it in his remarks to the students

Now, it is fitting that this year’s fair is happening just two days after the Super Bowl… I’m looking forward to having the Giants here at the White House so we can celebrate their achievements.  But what I’ve also said — I’ve said this many times — is if we are recognizing athletic achievement, then we should also be recognizing academic achievement and science achievement.  If we invite the team that wins the Super Bowl to the White House, then we need to invite some science fair winners to the White House as well.

Over 100 youth from a variety of STEM-oriented competitions attended the event, and let me tell you: these are some impressive kids. From students designing improved football helmets to help prevent traumatic brain injuries to the youngster who invented a waste-free sugar packet that dissolves in water, the ingenuity displayed by these talented young people was something amazing.

Representing the STEM Challenge were Shireen Zaineb, now in 8th Grade, from Milwaukee, WI. Shireen designed her winning game using Gamestar Mechanic as part of her work in technology class at the Milwaukee Montessori School with teacher Sherri Dodd — one of our first Gamestar Mechanic educators!

Joining Shireen was Jasper Hugunin, also in 8th Grade, from Islander Middle School in Mercer Island, WA. Jasper coded his own game from scratch using Javascript. Jasper’s game is designed to teach the player introductory computer science concepts like writing code, logical reasoning and debugging as they lead a robot through a series of mazes.

Along with a select group of students attending the event, Jasper had the opportunity to exhibit his game for the other kids and dignitaries present. Hearing Jasper describe the thought process that went into designing his game — to the likes of astronauts, Senior Department of Education officials and even Bill Nye the Science Guy — really reinforced for me all of the reasons that we think game design is such a great activity for young people.

When we launched the STEM Challenge in 2010, we knew that designing a digital game has tremendous learning benefits. Two years later, through the support of our sponsors and outreach partners, it’s truly incredible for me to see the competition grow and the work of our students be recognized at the highest levels.

I managed to snag a few photos of the event, which you can see in this slide show. You can also see the full video of President Obama’s remarks here.

The 2012 edition of the STEM Challenge the Challenge is accepting entries from middle, high school and collegestudents, as well as educators, through March 12, 2012 at stemchallenge.org.

Congratulations to Shireen, Jasper and all the amazing kids who participated in the White House Science Fair!

Digital Learning Day

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Posted Jan. 31, 2012

CategoryEvents

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It’s almost February, the month of love and chocolate and Digital Learning Day.  On February 1st, 2012, thousands of teachers and millions of students will pledge to use technology in new, innovative ways in their classrooms.

The National Writing Project suggests three ideas for Digital Learning Day:

Start a Conversation: Discuss technology in learning, including tweeting with the tag #DLDay

Try One New Thing: Explore tech resources, start a new digital class project

Showcase Success:
Have students present what they’ve created with technology

With Gamestar Mechanic, you can encourage students to make games in honor of Digital Learning Day, have them review each other’s games as part of the conversation, and present their work as artifacts of digital learning.

If you’re already using Gamestar in your class, try to use it in a new way on February 1st.  Have you tried modeling stories in games?  How about designing a game that that makes a social impact statement?  There are a ton of ideas about how to use Gamestar with traditional school subjects in the Learning Guide.  And, if you’re a premium teacher, try assigning a Gamestar Class Project to your students (look in your Workshop under Classes).

Happy Digital Learning Day! Hope it’s an innovative and inspiring one!

“Are You Game?” Recap

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Posted Nov. 17, 2011

CategoryEvents

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On Saturday, Gamestar Mechanic and BrainPOP partnered to have an awesome event in BrainPOP’s very own beautiful office. This event was a kick off for the National STEM Video Game Challenge which opened yesterday. I cannot stop thinking about how inspiring and energetic this event was!

A wide variety of teachers showed up to learn about how to use game design in their classrooms.  These teachers were public, private, charter, and homeschooling.  They were at elementary, middle, and high school levels.  They worked with mainstream students, ESL students, and special needs students.  Some were gamers, but mostly they were new to gaming and game design, and couldn’t wait to get started with it!

We kicked off the day with a fantastic keynote by Michael Angst, CEO and founder of E-line Media.  Following the keynote were a series of workshops where teachers made physical games, digital games, played games, reviewed games, and learned about games and STEM learning.   To see pictures of the event, go here. (That link also includes handouts to help teachers prepare their students for the STEM video game challenge).

I left the event with a deep understanding that teachers from all walks of life (gamer or not) value the importance of connecting with and teaching students on an innovative and digital level.  Thank you to all teachers who came, to BrainPOP for being fantastic partners, and to the Gamestar team for making such an inspiring platform!

We’ll definitely be doing an event like this again.  See you there next time!

Are You Game? Game Design Workshop – November 12th

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Posted Oct. 26, 2011

CategoryEvents

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GAMEUPWe’ve partnered up with BrainPOP to do a kick-off event for the National STEM Video Game Challenge.  I’m pretty psyched about this event, and excited to work with teachers on how to use Gamestar Mechanic to model STEM subjects.  Check out the flyer below and, if you’re in the NYC area, please come through!! (Also, it’s FREE!)

Attention New York City area educators! Are you ‘game’ for a free one day game design workshop with BrainPOP and Gamestar Mechanic? Then read on…

From the National STEM Video Game Challenge to ed tech conferences around the country, you’ve heard the buzz about student-made games. But how do you get started making that a reality in your classroom? On Saturday, November 12, join leading game designers, STEM content experts, and fellow educators for a day of professional development dedicated exclusively to this rapidly growing field of game design. Keynote speaker Michael Angst, Founder and CEO of educational game publisher E-Line Media, kicks things off with a talk that illuminates the key elements of game design. Then, head to hands-on workshops in which you’ll use curricular content from BrainPOP and the easy-to-use game design tool Gamestar Mechanic to develop your very own game. You’ll leave armed with great ideas and ready to tackle that National STEM Video Game Challenge with your students. Breakfast, lunch, and other goodies will be provided.

When: Saturday, November 12 (National Gaming Day!)
9:30am – 4:00pm

Where: BrainPOP HQ

Register Here!