We started our first Create@School session at BORG Birkfeld which is one of our three partner schools in Austria.
Shooter Game VS Computer Science Principles
This is class of 18 5th grade students who are studying computer science. One of their course is called the fundamental principles and concepts of computer science with the objective to impart abstraction and logic, practical experience in designing and writing computer programs, as well as the use of variables to students. Sounds dry, abstract and somehow complicated? Not if you turn it into exercise of coding a Shooter Game.
The teacher Ines Vorraber is very motivated in her teaching and is trying to spark the interest of their students by giving them always a creative task to learn. Therefore the students had to create a shooter game as part of their Create@School units. Within these games the user will explore distant galaxies and shoot aliens, planets or other obstacles. The teacher started off the Create@School units by giving an introduction to the app and let the students explore the app further by using tutorial cards and starter games.
The students were working on their games that fit to the overall topic – the Galaxy Game Jam. The students were programming in teams of two, drawing storyboards and lining out the game logic. The students separated their work by each one creating one level on their own tablet or smartphone and later merging the games together into one game. The students were drawing their game characters either in Pocket Paint, on a piece of paper or by using a paint tool on the computer. Later all these graphics were imported into Create@School.
Our mission to the moon and distant galaxies
By connecting the curriculum with an exciting topic that fits the student’s interest we could create a memorable and engaging learning experience. During the units the students needed to think about their game, explore the different possibilities, find solutions and answers, rethink their decisions and draw conclusions. This whole learning process helped them to get better skills in problem solving.
The students seemed very engaged in the task because they could create their own characters and bringing their own ideas into life. While coding the students could use tutorial cards that e.g., contained instructions how to use variables to create a timer or a score display. In addition they could ask the NOLB team for guidance.
The more time the students spent by designing their games the more they wanted to include more functionality and special effects into their games! They did not shy away when some parts were more tricky to solve than others.
The whole game design process followed a constructivist approach. Each time the students hit a new path they needed to think about a solution and a way how they can achieve this behaviour in Create@School.
The following questions helped the students to think about their games in total:
- How do you control your character? Do you need control buttons or do you use the inclination sensors of your device?
- Does the game have a timer or a score implemented?
- How can you win the game? How does the game end?
The results – what we achieved!
By the end of 10 units à 45 mins all students have created their galaxy themed action games which they then presented to their classmates.
All of them were able to understand how to use variables and random functions which they needed to bring their game ideas to life.
The whole class will submit their games at the #GalaxyGameJam event* that is organized by the University of Technology Graz in cooperation with Samsung Austria.
To have an overview about the created games please have a look at our gallery.