DW Faculty Gets Young Students Excited about Coding

The Game Creator’s Guild Project utilizes Microsoft Research’s Kodu Game Lab, a program that enables young kids to create video games by telling stories with characters and props while creating a whole world for the characters to live in.

“Computational thinking will be a core 21stcentury skill,” said DeVane. “The ability to envision and code solutions to complex problems is one that is needed now and in the future.”

Students who  volunteered to participate in the project learned how to structure game levels and design gaming environments by learning programming methods like algorithms, events and conditional statements. The games are created for computers and XBox with a simple visual programming language.

“A core issue is how we help kids develop the passion to be creative using code and then persist through the difficult process of mastering coding,” said DeVane. “In the past, computer science education has focused on drilling the basics into students’ heads, often in a boring fashion. With this project, we are trying to help students master the basics of programming while being creative designing games.”

DeVane will be investigating how effective introductory game design tools are getting young people interested in careers centered around Science, Engineering, Art and Design (SEAD).

“We are trying to put art, engineering and game design together in an educational context that engages the next generation of learners,” said DeVane.

Game Creator’s Guild began March 11 at P.K. Young Middle School and continued weekly on Mondays after school, running for eight weeks until the beginning of May 2013.