Zulama Students Shine at Smithsonian Climate Game Showcase – Zulama

By Beverly Vaillancourt As a high school game design student, what would it be like to have a game designed by you showcased at the National Museum of Natural History in Washington, D.C.? Pretty awesome! That’s exactly what happened for Zulama students from Elizabeth Forward High School in Pennsylvania and Harmony High School in Florida …

Sourced through Scoop.it from: zulama.com

Zulama provides a game-based learning curriculum for secondary schools. At the latest Climate Change Showcase students from Pennsylvania and Florida had their games showcased. Quite an honor! I work with the Zulama team on professional development and curriculum design.

See on Scoop.itUsing Technology to Transform Learning

Climate Game Jam

climate_game_jamWritten in cooperation with Peg Steffins from the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration.

On September 30, Zulama students from South Fayette High School and Elizabeth Forward High School in Pennsylvania participated in the National Climate Game Jam at the Carnegie Mellon Museum of Natural History in Pittsburgh. Students from Harmony High School in Harmony, Florida, gathered in their Zulama classroom for the day. From board games, to card games, to digital games, Zulama students put their game design skills to work to create several creative games with a focus on science.


Harmony High School hosted 35 student game designers for the day long event. Beginning at 7 a.m. and working non-stop through lunch and into the afternoon, eight design teams made up of student game designers, computer programmers, and artists created a variety of games focused on climate change. Brad Davey and Hilarie Davis, consultants with NOAA, served as resident experts, answering student questions and encouraging student creativity. Bev Vaillancourt from Zulama spent the day at Harmony High School facilitating connections with Peg Steffins from NOAA who communicated with Harmony High School game designers twice during the day via SKYPE to congratulate students on their participation and provide expert assistance when needed. Harmony High School teacher Lynn VanderZyl managed technical questions with ease from her Zulama students throughout the day as they put their GameMaker programming and game design skills to work. According to comments from several students, the climate game jam day was the best school day ever!

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Game Time is Now Different for High School Students

Keith Hodan | Trib Total MediaStudents in Reuben Clark's Introduction and Evolution of Games class, including Landin O'Neil, 17, a senior, left, and Tyler Vescio, 17, use their laptops to design games during the class at North Hills Senior High, Tuesday, Sept. 22, 2015.

Keith Hodan | Trib Total MediaStudents in Reuben Clark’s Introduction and Evolution of Games class, including Landin O’Neil, 17, a senior, left, and Tyler Vescio, 17, use their laptops to design games during the class at North Hills Senior High, Tuesday, Sept. 22, 2015.

[It’s no longer enough to use games in the classroom. Students need to become creative producers. School districts, like North Hills, near Pittsburgh, have created new courses around entertainment technology. The courses were originally developed at Carnegie Mellon and are now marketed by Zulama, one of my clients.]

Wednesday, Sept. 30, 2015, 9:00 p.m.

Shannon Heinl has been interested in games for awhile, but this was the first year she’s been able to learn how to build one in school.

The North Hills High School senior is taking “Evolution of Games,” part of a curriculum the district implemented this year to teach students about the history of gaming and how to design their own games using 3D imaging and printing and laser engraving.

Heinl hopes to be a video game animator. She’s already taken a 3D animation class at North Hills and hopes the gaming curriculum will prepare her for her career, and attract more girls to gaming and technology courses.

“It’s kind of expanded, so more girls are interested in this, too,” Heinl said.

Nearly 200 students are enrolled in the classes at North Hills; there are five sections on the Evolution of Games, two on mobile game design and one on game design.

The school hopes to expand its offerings each year to eventually include game production and marketing, game maker programming and screenwriting. There are 11 total courses in the program.

The courses have been a great gateway to students who normally wouldn’t consider technical education classes, said Reuben Clark, a technical education teacher at North Hills who teaches the gaming classes.

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