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St. Pius X College student present innovative gaming skills at Intel Summit

Two Year 13 students from St. Pius X College, Mateusz Bartoszek and Luke O’Kane were selected by Intel (Europe) to present their gaming skills at the 12th Intel Education Summit in London.  Mr Duffy (Head of Post-16 and Intel Education Ambassador) travelled with the students to showcase the work of St. Pius X College in this global forum. 

Gaming in schools has been successfully embedded within the Northern Ireland curriculum for over ten years.   At the heart of developing interactive computer games lies the central pedagogy of intrinsic motivation and student empowerment.

Within St. Pius X College gaming opportunities are formally provided as part of GCSE ICT.  Students complete a controlled assessment unit on designing, developing, producing a user guide and evaluating a computer game in eleven hours.  Many students opt to develop their game upon a moral or social issue such as alcohol/drug abuse, eating disorders or even crime.

Planning effective games with compelling storylines is paramount.  The storyboard should be a working document.  Timeframes change, elements have to be reworked.  The idea is that the storyboards that students design could be taken by a younger student who could build a game to the exact same specification.  The great thing about gaming in the classroom is that it takes focus away from the teacher at the front. Once you show the students a simple demo they can just take over.

Luke clearly demonstrated how to create a new level for his Indiana Jones-themed maze game. Within literally minutes delegates had learnt enough that a member of the audience was able to come to the front and add his own elements to the level in order to finish it off.

Mateusz assuredly talked delegates through programming characters in his space game – Galactic Shooter. Delegates learnt about basic conditional programming, or getting the characters (the enemies) to behave in a certain way in reaction to other game elements. 

The entire workshop was all accomplished within twenty minutes using a free piece of software. The games will make up around 30 per cent of each student’s mark for GCSE ICT. Even more impressively, students only have 11 hours of class time to finish them. This includes any creation or manipulation of artwork, which many students complete in Photoshop.  Scope for problem solving and peer/self-evaluation is expansive.

The students also confidently completed a question and answer session from the workshop participants.  All questions were answered independently, highly accurately and with ease.  Undoubtedly these students have a bright STEM future ahead in today’s digital economy.  Additional photographs and a video summary can be found on www.summit.intel.co.uk

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