Youth-Led STEM Game Design Workshops

Youth-Led STEM Game Design Workshops


This is a guest post by Juan Rubio, Program Associate for the Online Leadership Program at Global Kids.



Global Kids Youth Leaders


As part of the National STEM Video Game Challenge, Global Kids youth leaders in the Playing for Keeps program designed and led game design workshops that will reach over 200 New York City youth at more than ten Hive NYC institutions. They held two different types of sessions. The first showcased game design concepts and introduced participants to, a game platform designed specifically for learning how to create games. The second workshop taught participants how to pitch their game design ideas to an expert panel of game gurus from E-Line Media and other game design companies like BrainPop.


At the start of the year, Global Kids trained its youth leaders in the Playing for Keeps program. They learned the core elements of game design and explored the use of games as a platform for social awareness. They also learned presentation and coaching skills to prepare them to teach their peers throughout the spring.


Then, the youth took their new skills on the road to Hive NYC members, including The New York Hall of Science, Iridescent, The Brooklyn Public Library, The POINT and others.


These sessions started off with Global Kids youth using familiar games like soccer or Rock, Paper, Scissors to introduce their peers to these core game design elements:








They then asked the participants to modify and hack one of the components in Rock, Paper, Scissors and the groups presented their modified games to the rest of the group. The Global Kids youth leaders were learning right along side the youth they taught. The leaders become proficient both at presenting the concepts related to game design, and teaching others how to coach one another. 


One of their favorite activities, Grow-A-Game, introduces the concept of values and social issues into the game design process. Grow-A-Game is a card game designed by Tilt Factor that asks participants to modify a game to include a value such as equality, honesty, or cooperation, and to address an issue such as pollution, colonialism, food politics, etc. The enthusiasm for this game was felt across the leaders and participants alike.


The Global Kids youth also traveled to the Brooklyn Public Library to help their teens build out a game design concept they developed in a parallel activity. Based on the best-selling dystopian teen novel, The Hunger Games, they had built a game about pollution using Minecraft. In their game world, the planet has been destroyed by climate change, and is up to the displaced citizens (the game players) to come together and restore world order. Visit Global Kids Playing for Keeps Challenge to see an example of a challenge created last year on the topic of war.


In the second part of the program, Global Kids youth led participants through an activity to help them pitch their concepts to an expert panel. They each took turns pitching their ideas and learned how to talk about different aspects of their games. They also received feedback on their designs and ideas from the E-Line Media team. In the last workshop at The POINT in the Bronx, a former Global Kids Playing for Keeps student, Jessy Jo, who is now studying game design at Parsons School of Design, served as a panelist.





Finally, all youth participants were introduced to the National STEM Video Game Design Challenge, and were encouraged to enter their game for prizes that include an AMD-powered laptop computer with game design and educational software, and $2,000 for their school or non-profit organization of their choice. The challenge closes on April 24, 2013, and the Global Kids youth leaders are offering help and follow-up sessions at Global Kids headquarters throughout the month. Visit the National STEM Video Game Challenge website for more information on how to enter, register and submit a game, and to obtain support materials for game design.


It has been vital to the success of this project that Hive NYC Learning Network institutions came together to collaborate and to provide support in hosting these workshops and reaching out to their youth to promote the program.


The Global Kids leaders did an exceptional job on the delivery and demonstrated a high level of commitment to the program. It has been great to see them grow and perform with such dedication. We are very proud of all their efforts, and hope to see this model scaled in the future.


Global Kids acknowledges the support from E-Line Media and the Joan Ganz Cooney Center at Sesame Workshop for this project. For more pictures from the workshops visit:


There’s still time to participate! New York Hall of Science is hosting a two-day workshop on designing games inspired by their exhibits. See below for details or email twhitlock [at] to RSVP! Share this: