UNG to host game design workshop
(June 10, 2016) - On June 20, dozens of students from fifth through 12th grades will converge at the University of North Georgia's (UNG) Dahlonega Campus to see if they can take their love of video games to the next level in a workshop teaching video game design.
"This workshop will teach students the basic steps of coding," said Dr. Joshua Cuevas, an assistant professor of education at UNG who helped organize the workshop. "Students, particularly middle school students, spend a great deal of time on personal devices and social media, and we want to provide them with a more productive outlet — in this case, the National STEM Video Game Challenge. After this workshop, they will be able to go online and work on these games while building math and science skills, helping academic learning transcend the school walls into their home and social networks."
There are still some slots open for the workshop, which is free and open to all students in grades 5-12: to register, parents and students can visit https://www.eventbrite.com/e/national-stem-video-game-design-workshop-tickets-25689617337#tickets.
The workshop is sponsored by the national Institute of Museum & Library Sciences and will be led by game industry professionals from E-Line Media and the Joan Ganz Cooney Center at Sesame Workshop, also presenters of the National STEM Video Game Challenge. The workshop will be co-facilitated by Mote Ed, LLC, a local company that provides support for innovational educational experiences.
"We hope this workshop will further stimulate interest in students wishing to pursue technological pathways both at the middle school and high school level," said Chris Froggatt, principal of Lumpkin County Middle School. "Last year, we added a series of connections classes that allow students to experiment with coding, robotics and other branches of technology. They can take a different class each year in middle school with the ultimate goal of providing a foundation in computer programming and hands-on applications. This foundation will encourage more students to select technological pathways in high school and broaden general interest in technology and its applications."
The event also falls during the National Week of Making, an initiative from The White House that invites "libraries, museums, rec centers, schools, universities and community spaces to support and grow the number of our citizen-makers by hosting events, committing to take action, and highlighting new innovations." The initiative encourages events that celebrate ingenuity and inspire creative problem-solving.
According to Cuevas, ingenuity will be a major theme of the workshop, which aims to interest students in coding through a medium that they find enjoyable — video games. He added that students from rural areas often do not get opportunities like this, and that part of the longer-term vision for this event is to keep the students engaged over the summer and encourage coding during the next school year as part of a STEAM (Science, Technology, Engineering, Art and Mathematics) program. The immediate goal is to get students interested in the national challenge and help them submit their final projects by the August 15 deadline.
"This collaborative effort has resulted in the first National STEM Video Game Challenge workshop to be held in Georgia," said Chad Mote, founder of Mote Ed, who helped bring the workshop to north Georgia. "This level of support illustrates the tremendous interest of the people at these organizations to bring educational innovation to young people and their community, and the event will highlight the benefits that video game making through computer programming and design principles offer young people. Historically, students from rural areas in our state have not been exposed to these types of events."
The workshop will be held on Monday, June 20 from 3-5:30 p.m. in the Library Technology Center on UNG's Dahlonega Campus.