Latest Entries...

Ebba's Take - That Could Be Your Sister 

For ten weeks, Global Kids is hosting intern Ebba Minas, an 18-year-old from Stockholm, Sweden on a gap year between secondary school and university. She had the opportunity to participate in That Could Be Your Sister, last week's event co-hosted with Radio Rookies, during which youth designed digital tools to combat sexual cyberbullying. Below, read her impressions of the event and her comparisons between conversations around "slut-shaming" in the US and Sweden.

 

Photo by Yasmeen Khan of SchoolBook
GK intern Ebba Minas (on the right) prepping for her group's presentation.
Photo by Yasmeen Khan of SchoolBook, see article.

 

Combating Sexual Cyberbullying with That Could Be Your Sister 

Twenty-five youth from around New York City. A problem to solve through the design of a digital tool. Cash prizes at stake.

 

That was the set up for yesterday's That Could Be Your Sister Design Challenge, held at the Brooklyn Public Library by Global Kids and WNYC's Radio Rookies. The youth – many of them affiliated with BPL's T4 program and several from GK and Rookies – listened intently as 17-year-old Temitayo Fagbenle played a radio story that she had reported last year about "slut-shaming" on online social networks, or as she and producer Courtney Stein wrote, "using photos and videos to turn a girl's private life inside out." She challenged the group to propose an idea for a digital tool that could be mobilized to support victims, raise awareness or collect data about the issue.

 

Hive NYC's Julia Vallera presented a menu of digital tools for students to consider integrating into their designs; from apps to text messaging campaigns. "There are no limitations" she said. "Think outside the box." With that, the students were off in their groups -- drawing, writing, and brainstorming their way to digital solutions.

 

 

During the presentations, the four judges -- Jess Klein and Atul Varma from Mozilla, Erica Doyle, Assistant Principal at Vanguard High School, and Jasmine Hood from Common Sense Media – were treated to five stellar pitches for new digital tools. One group dreamed up a website that followed a human body metaphor - the mouth would link to a section to help victims speak out, the ear to a section for listening to testimonials, and "tears" collecting at the bottom of the screen would contain words of inspiration and support from the community. Another group decided to place QR codes in locations that teens frequent the most in order to direct them to the campaign website. The “Insert Title Here” group’s proposal included a “choose your own adventure” game that would guide players to make choices in scenarios of sexual cyberbullying. The "Tech Geeks" team won with their idea for an informational website and an app that victims would be able to use to report offensive photos and seek the support of specialists.

 

5/6 of the members of the winning team, "Tech Geeks."

 

While everybody couldn’t walk away from the competition with a gift card, the rewards of the program went far beyond. In an email to GK’s Juan Rubio, one student wrote about how he’d love to continue learning Photoshop, something he began to explore during Thursday’s event:

 

“Gracias por toda su ayuda y aunque no ganamos, ganamos porque aprendimos mucho de cyberbullying y también de tecnología. (Thank you for all of your help, and even though we didn’t win, we won, because we learned a lot about cyberbullying and also about technology).

 

Thank you to Project:Connect and our panel of judges, Brooklyn Public Library’s Jen Thompson and Jackson Gomes, and WNYC Radio Rookies’ Kaari Pitkin, Courtney Stein and Sanda Htyte.

 

For more coverage of the event, check out SchoolBook!

 

Freelance producer Karen Duffin also produced a radio piece about the event, featuring OLP's very own Jack Martin and Juan Rubio!

 

Playing for Keeps - Session 2 

The students of the second Playing for Keeps session walked in and sat down quietly. Most of them did not know each other, but all it took was one question - "So, what games do you all play?" - for them to break out into animated chatter.

 

After the great success of the first Playing for Keeps session, we were excited to welcome the students of the second session - and they did not disappoint. The students came in with new ideas, genuine curiosity, and infectious enthusiasm. Using MIT's game design platform Scratch, the students were able to create some truly creative and entertaining games based on important issues that affect us today. 

 

Hard at work on their games!

 

Of course, to design a game, we had to start at the basics. Like Session 1, we began by challenging the students to creating a representation of a movie out of Legos pieces. This activity helped them start thinking creatively about the characters, story, space, and how to deal with limited resources (in this case, Legos pieces and time). They were able to create some amazing things with just Legos pieces - including a surprisingly realistic clownfish from Finding Nemo, and a whole scene from Monsters, Inc., complete with multiple characters. 

 

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.

 

NYC Haunts: Week 2 

Our SIS students are officially GPS game designers! This week was packed with activities all leading up to a presentation at the Weeksville Heritage Center where students from the School for Human Rights playtested the new game. 

 

There was lots of work to do to prepare. On the 5th day of the program, students split up into groups to work on developing characters for the game. They referred back to the history they learned at the Weeksville Heritage Center and week 1 workshops. They decided what roles to give each character and the items each character would give to the player, and began writing the characters' dialogues. At the end of the day they presented their character's dialogues, even dressing up a bit and playing the part. They each shared what worked and what needed improvement about the other groups' dialogues and provided strong feedback for their peers.

 

Robert in costume and reading the dialogue of the Freedman Reggie Colson

 

On the 6th day, the students revised the rough draft of the dialogue in groups, adding more historical context and even some 1800's slang. Their creativity was put to the test! At the end of the day the students connected the Draft Riots to other modern social issues of their choosing: the Trayvon Martin case, hate crimes, and the work of Malcolm X were the three topics students were most interested in exploring. 

 

Students adding more historical context and content to their dialogues.

 

Jayme and Julisa do research on a modern day social issue connected to their game.

 

On the 7th day, they finalized their dialogues and put the last minute touches on their game. They playtested their game in the office using the quicktravel option on ARIS. Content with the results of their finalized game, they began preparing to present their game at the Weeksville Heritage Center the following day. They learned to keep in mind things such as eye contact, pace of speech, volume of speech, and body posture. They were very encouraging and supportive of each other when practicing their speeches giving feedback and constructive criticism when necessary.

 

Students relating the Draft Riots to racism and hate crimes today.

 

Finally, the big day had arrived! The students traveled to the Weeksville Heritage Center where they presented their game to middle schoolers from the School for Human Rights. They talked about the Civil War, Draft Riots, connections between that time and current day issues, and how to use ARIS. When it came time to play the game, they became leaders, helping other students easily maneuver through the game, despite the heat wave! They made some new friends and enjoyed playing the game they worked for two weeks to create.

At the Weeksville Heritage Center playing the game created by SIS students

 

NYC Haunts was a great experience for both the students and the facilitators. Thanks in part to one of the funders on the project, TimeWarner Cable, the students were exposed to something they were not familiar with before and were able to successfully create a game that others could play and learn from. The students also became more comfortable with each other and made new friends along the way. It was an enriching experience that I could see the students wanting to do again.