Students in Introduction to Programming 6 at T.J. Walker Middle School in Sturgeon Bay have been using programming to create their own basic video games. During the first half of the academic year, they learned how to write programs using Blockly, a block coding method on code.org, and have mastered writing efficient programs by learning real-world programming methods such as loops, conditionals and functions. Now they’re using their own ideas and creativity to apply those skills to a game of their own design on code.org.
“I learned that making a game is much harder than you think,” said Emma Holland. “You always play it, but you never think about how much work it takes.”
Students design the game from the ground up by planning a story, its setting and characters. Then they program backgrounds, events and behaviors to make the game interactive. Once a draft is ready, adults and other students test it, and the creators can then revise the game based on user feedback – an important step in game design.
“I am most impressed with the way students have taken the programming skills they have attained and used their creativity and problem-solving skills to create their own games,” said business and information technology teacher Jennifer Hanson. “Each game is different, and the students have been very persistent in finding ways to make their games work. I think they were surprised at how much code it takes to make a simple game!”
The year-long Introduction to Programming 6 course meets every other day in the middle school computer lab. In addition to learning how to program, students learn vocabulary, problem-solving, persistence, teamwork, and reading and writing skills.