Do you have students or children that enjoy playing video games? Do they dream of one day becoming a video game designer? Do they enjoy learning through interactive game-based techniques? Then try this online training program designed for kids called Gamestar Mechanic! It can be found HERE.
In my Computer Art class, we experiment with many online design platforms and applications. When I evaluate these programs, I judge them based on this set of criteria:
- Ease of Use: Is the program easy to use for teachers and students
- Pros: What is good about the program
- Cons: What can be improved or can cause instructional hiccups
- Tips from the Field: My experiences when helping teachers implement specific technology in their own classrooms.
What is it?
Taken from the “For Teacher” section on the website. It can be found HERE.
Gamestar Mechanic is a game and online community that teaches kids how to design their own games!
Designing games builds:
- Systems Thinking
- 21st Century Skills
- Creative Problem Solving
- Art and Aesthetics
- Writing and Storytelling
- and creates a motivation for STEM learning.
Ease of Use:
Gamestar Mechanic is so easy to use in the classroom or computer lab.
Students love the process of playing games to learn how to create them. Some levels are easier than others and they experience, first hand, how to pace a successful multi-level game. Students also have the chance to edit games and problem solve to create a workable level. This requires critical thinking, problem solving, and 21st Century Skills.
When making their own game, students recall information that they have learned from previous levels and can create a storyline, characters, and environments. When problems arise, they have background knowledge to fix them on their own, which boosts confidence.
After their own game is complete, students can publish them. This increases the sense of community in a classroom because everyone can play their classmate’s games and provide critique and feedback. We call this stage Playtesting. Even students who have never shown interest in video games love this program.
Gamestar Mechanic is a thorough platform that provides many areas for parents and teachers to learn how to make the experience valuable for their students and children. There are videos, blogs, resources, and curriculum outlines with lesson plans. It is a treasure trove of valuable help for whoever who are or whatever experience you may or may not have.
- Free: There are paid options, but students can complete the quest, publish games, and build them from scratch without having to pay a cent.
- There is a blog section specifically for Education HERE
- Teaches through play and problem solving. Students don’t realize they’re learning and becoming more independent thinkers because it is so much fun.
- User friendly, with sections for parents and teachers.
- There are lesson plans, ideas for implementation, and many more resources that guarantee a successful process.
- I do not have a single con to write. The only issue is that since the platform is individual, all students must have access to computers at the same time. I have used this program for 3 years now and it is a hit every time. Students even go home and advance on their own after class.
Tips from the Field:
My advice is to have students document their username and password somewhere. This comes in handy if you are spacing these sessions out because students will never lose their progress.
I would recommend Gamestar Mechanic to anyone. It is so incredibly engaging. Students and teachers love it! It can steer interested students into a career path that they might not have thought about before, and if not, they are still learning critical skills to become the future problem solvers.
How could video games help your student learn? Let us know in the comments below!
Lauren Hodson is a middle school visual and computer art educator in Plymouth, Massachusetts. As a mentor teacher and professional development presenter, Lauren is passionate about creativity and making art accessible for everyone. Her passions in STEAM and Arts Integration are at the root of her goal to collaborate with classroom teachers everywhere.