Playing for Keeps Session 1

Students at SIS were joined by middle schoolers from around the city to take part in Global Kids' signature "Playing for Keeps" program. They used MIT's open source video game design software, Scratch, to program and design games about environmental issues ranging from pollution ("Pollution's no Illusion" by Jayme, Julisa and Summit) to habitats (Wildlife Takeback by Robert, Gabriel and Patrick). It was an exhilarating week of hands-on activities that exposed students to the elements of a game and content about population density supplied by NASA. All throughout, students kept blogs documenting their learning.


Students completing a Lego Challenge where they have to create an immage based on a story that they were assigned.


On the first day of the program, after a warm-up that involved representing movie plots with legos, the students learned to name the core elements of a game by identifying those elements in classic games such as Rock, Paper, Scissors and soccer. They chose specific elements of a game that they wanted to change, and noticed how their jams affected game play. They were also introduced to Scratch and learned basic functions using the Scratch Program.


Patrick, Gabriel, and Niles show off their found object game, "Wolf Goes Down."


On the second day the students used found objects to create board games, integrating what they learned the previous day about strong game design. The students were also exposed to satellite images of the U.S at night from NASA and inferred population density in areas where lights clustered. They brainstormed humans' impacts on the environment and how population density is related to that impact. At the end of the day, we spoke about "serious games" and how students might relate their games to environmental issues.


A group of students working on a game about pollution with Scott, one of GK's NSLA summer teaching fellows.


On the third day students broke off into groups based on the environmental issue they were most interested in raising awareness about. The second half of the third day and the whole fourth day were spent creating their environmental game on Scratch. Many of the groups assigned each student a role: there were script writers, art designers, logic prototypers, playtesters, though there were those who did a little bit of everything. They worked on teams, forging new friendships. At the end of the day, they beamed with pride as they presented their games back to the group.


Click here for links to their final games (some are still works in progress, write to Sara and Juan for access to the blog!)



As SIS students look forward to their field trips next week, Global Kids OLP gears up for P4K's high school edition! Till next week!