by Rosemary Peck, Science Consultant
When entering Michele Robertson’s room at Winfield Mount Union Community School District you may see middle school or high school students playing games on the computer. However, the students using the STEM-Fuse Game:IT program created these games. During class, students become familiar not only with drag and drop programming but writing code using GML, use the engineering design cycle, collaborate with other students, use their knowledge of physics and math during game creation and become more aware of STEM career options. The students said they have fun in class but liked the challenge of designing and figuring out how to program something new or fix a bug in a program. They talk about how they are learning to find their own answers either from the curriculum resources, resources on the Internet or each other. Of course, Mrs. Robertson is always there, waiting in the wings, a 17-year veteran of computer programing but she values the students collaborating and teaching each other. Junior Jordan and Freshman Gavin Bencze are working on a game to submit to a national contest on January 17, where the game, after an approval process, will be uploaded to an arcade site to be played and receive votes.
Mrs. Robertson’s students aren’t stopping with Game:IT; some students are currently working on MOBILE APP:IT, which is an introductory mobile application design & programming course using Java and Eclipse for Android devices. Students learn basic Java programming and then working with Eclipse create working apps that can be downloaded to Android devices.
The students in the VREP (Virtual Reality Education Pathfinders) class learn to use the open source 3D modeling software Blender to research and design their own virtual programs and create 3D projects. The projects need to be educationally sound and demonstrate the students’ learning. The student is in control of learning while Mrs. Robertson takes on the role of the coach and again collaboration is key. Technical reading skills, ability to research, communicate, problem solve, work in teams, collaborate, time management, and access resources as well as computer and study skills continue to be developed in the more advanced classes. Currently, Senior Trey Gibbs and Senior Kollin Lintz are working on VREP projects that incorporate their talents in art into 3-D projects in Blender.
Mrs. Robertson’s students talked about the fun and challenge of designing the projects but some are thinking of possible careers in STEM related fields. WMU alums have gone on to be tech network managers and web page designers. You just never know where playing games will lead.