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Video Games: Learning Disguised as Fun

Gamestar2Recently, 15 Brooklyn students with their families learned how to design and create video games. The training, held at the Shell Bank School (J.H.S. 14) was an effort to help needy students acquire the tools and knowledge to compete in the National STEM Video Game Challenge—http://www.stemchallenge.org/. Winning students will earn cash for their schools and a laptop for themselves. “My teacher, she told me about it. It was so fun. First, we made a game, and then we let other people try it out. Some kids had games that were really hard, and some kids had games that were really easy,” says student DeJannia Parnell.

My own video-gaming attention span is that of a gnat, but I get it. I remember teaching my students how to build JavaScript games for their Web pages. That was pretty simple compared to today’s game programming, but I do know that kids felt good about building something that they could actually play—sort of like building a stool in shop class—only more fun, and without the wobbly legs. Always heard good things from parents about it, too—and best of all, kids who hadn’t taken the course—couldn’t wait to get there.

Gamestar3The Brooklyn video-game training was hosted by the non-profit organization Computers for Youth (CYF)— http://www.cfy.org/, in partnership with E-line Media— http://elineventures.com/, as well as others, such as Microsoft and BrainPop. E-line Media also supports the video design and creation learning game called Gamestar Mechanic— http://gamestarmechanic.com/.

While my own video-gaming expertise is not quite that of a 5-year old, I appreciate that it may not only help keep computer science exciting for kids, but also allow them to experience a world outside their local environment. For me, reading is still at the top of the list for doing that, but making room for kids learning to create their own video games is a no brainer, too. I’m certain kids doing that would be late to the next class—for all the right reasons.

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