Break Out of the Ordinary

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Engaged Learning with Codelicious

Fortnight, Minecraft, and Super Mario are not uncommon words in the language of students. These days, video games are everywhere; students can play games themselves or watch professional gamers compete online. Regardless of the medium, however, gaming is a phenomenon that sweeps across the entire nation. And students can’t get enough! 

Codelicous takes this interest and translates it to the classroom setting. In Graphic Design 108: Introduction to Video Game Development, an educator teaches students to code their own games while also introducing fundamental computer science principles. Video game enthusiasts learn CS in a completely engaged and student-centered environment, and the 6th - 8th graders in MSD Pike Township are no exception.

Keep reading to hear what three students (Nate, Brayden, and Nyla) had to say about their classroom experience!

How the Codelicious Curriculum Engages Students

Graphic Design 108: Introduction to Video Game Development excites student interest in computer science through a variety of project-based activities. Using Godot, an open source platform, students order and code interactions between different assets to create playable video games. 

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Every Codelicious course is based on four Pillars of Instruction that generate interest for every learning style. Coding, Hardware, Unplugged, and Digital Citizenship activities are built into each course to engage visual, tactile, kinesthetic, and auditory learners alike. This was especially evident in the student reactions to projects in the Introduction to Video Game Development course.

  1. Coding - Breakout
    A classroom favorite Coding activity was Breakout, based on the classic Atari game. “We had to make the paddles move up and down, and you have to use arrows and the other person would have to use keys.” Nate, a 6th grade Pike student, described.  “I thought it was very cool,” Brayden, a 7th grader, declared. “I felt very proud, because I created it all by myself.”  

  2. Hardware - littleBits Car
    Teams of students attempted to build a car using a kit of electronic building blocks called littleBits. Nyla, an 8th grader, learned new problem-solving skills in this hands-on project. She reflected on the magnetic poles of the blocks: “When you're putting the circuit pieces together, try turning them around. If one of the [pieces] didn't work the way we wanted it to, just turn it around and it would work!” 

  3. Unplugged - Peanut Butter and Jelly
    The class worked together to make a peanut butter and jelly sandwich in this Unplugged activity. The “robot” at the front of the room moved at the direction of the students, mimicking how a computer takes directions from code. The educator noted how engaged the students were. “They were cracking up, especially when I was trying (and failing) to do too many things at once,” she said. “It made them realize how specific they really had to be.” 

  4. Digital Citizenship - STEM Careers  
    In STEM Career activities, the class explored different career paths in the gaming industry. “It definitely made me think about doing something like this as a career,” Brayden said. “I really like being able to make stuff. I like the feeling I have when I’m all done with it.”

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How Engagement Encourages Learning

These four project types helped students develop analytical and computational thinking skills through the lens of gaming. After only 5 days of the course, students were able to identify and define fundamental elements of programs. 

  • 100% of students were able to identify variable elements within a code block

  • 94% of students were able to identify functions within a code block

  • 94% of students were able to define programming loops