High schoolers design games, learn programming skills

Evergreen Public Schools hosted its first Game Design Expo in Vancouver, Washington, showcasing more than 50 video games and interactive apps developed by nearly 70 high school students.

Throughout a semester-long design class, students created mini-games to learn the cause-and-effect logic behind programming. Producing a story, game or interactive app for the expo motivated the high schoolers to solve challenges and to explore computer science careers.

We wanted students to show their ideas, their processes and what they need to work on—they didn’t realize how much they had actually accomplished in a short period of time” says computer science teacher Jason Westerbur. “And they gained confidence-boosting networking experiences with industry and university contacts at the expo.”

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One student developed an interactive, anime-style novel that lets viewers control characters’ conversations, while a classmate created a simple game that requires players to collect objects that help them escape from a room. Two others teamed to craft a 3D adventure in which a lost, young dinosaur has to find a way back to its family.

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The enthusiasm has already paid off as the students placed in competitions at the 2018 SkillsUSA Washington Leadership and Skills Conference, and entered the Oregon Game Project Competition.

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