The Richmond Register

Education

February 16, 2014

Central's Innovation Lab teaches programming, gaming

RICHMOND — While gaming may not always be permitted at school, The Innovation Lab at Madison Central High School gives students the opportunity to learn computer programming, with gaming as the current focus.

During the first semester of the school year, students researched the different job opportunities the gaming industry has to offer and then took on various roles: game designer, game tester, programming and production.

Using a program called Scratch, developed at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology, class members designed and created their own two-dimensional computer games.

The class is tackling the game-controller aspect of gaming using the MaKey MaKey “easy-to-use invention kit.” The kit includes seven alligator clips, six connector wires and one USB cable.

Teacher Alison Fox was awarded a $500 Bechtel-Parsons Grant, given to teachers at any grade level who plan on using new or interesting strategies with science, math, or technology in their classrooms.

The MaKey MaKey system allows the students to make most anything into a game controller. Students researched items that are conductive (aluminum foil, Play-Doh, people) and would complete the circuit and run the game.

Split into groups of two or three, students where given the task of making a new controller for the game assigned.

The “Piggy Push” online game was chosen for students Sarah Dalton, Dylan Ingram and Timothy Sharp. With the title “Piggy Push,” students used a controller made of a crate lined with aluminum foil and used a pig fashioned from Play-Doh as a handheld controller to move the pig in the game.

To make the controller function, students used a MaKey MaKey system inside of the crate and used alligator clips to connect the system to foil on the outside, with the foil serving as arrow keys. Both aluminum foil and Play-Doh are conductive materials.

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