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September 2014 Maker Party 

Youth between the ages of eleven and seventeen attended the Global Kids Maker Party where they experimented with circuitry using LittleBits modules. Attendees learned the meaning of “input” and “output” circuits through various design challenges given by Maker Party facilitators. These initial challenges built up to a final challenge, in which participants created “gadgets” that would improve a particular room of one’s home. Youth collaborated with their peers over a few slices of pizza and completed brainstorming activities that led to the successful creation of the aforementioned gadgets. Notable creations include a remote control that would program the cable box of a television using light sensors, a garbage disposal mechanism, and a music player for one’s bathroom.

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Summer of Haunts, Wrapping Up 

Last week, Global Kids celebrated the addition of two new youth-created geolocative games to our NYC Haunts portfolio, capping off a busy summer.

 

At The Point Community Development Corporation, participants in the Summer Youth Employment Program created a moving, emotional game that honors the African-American and Native American slaves that were buried hundreds of years ago in what is now Drake Park. Youth were motivated to take action through the creation of a game for change, when they observed that white land and slave owners were recognized with well-manicured and marked plots in the park, while the remains of slaves were scattered throughout the park in unmarked graves. 

 


Sheila, second from left, helps three playtesters from The Point access the game on the TaleBlazer app to begin their journey. 

 

In the game, the player must learn and remember the stories of several slave-ghosts in order to reunite them with important objects. In doing so, the player recognizes these individuals' memories and roles in history:

 

 

 

In an alternate pathway, a player must guide a young escaping slave to a safehouse, following clues in the environment, as slaves would have done following the Underground Railroad in the past.

 

 

iDesign Summer Camp at Hofstra University 

 

Students and teachers from the iDesign program are getting ready to start the second year of the project as they participate in a sumer camp at Hofstra University where they have been learning about geo-locative games and the use of the WeDo interface with Scratch. They are also learning basic concepts of game design, and how to create games using the MIT software TaleBlazer. As they explored the campus and started building their games, a group of students have designed a game with interesting mechanics and storytelling that takes the player through a tour of a part of the Hofstra campus.

 

Global Kids has been partnering with the School of Education at Hofstra University on the iDesign program, a National Science Foundation funded initiative to implement game design with teachers in middle school afterschool programs. With the goal of inspiring kids to pursue STEM careers through computational thinking introduced with game design, the program also teaches kids to create games that are culturally relevant. For more on the iDesign program visit IDesign.hofstra.edu

 

NYC Haunts - The Point and The Brooklyn Museum 

NYC Haunts is hitting the halfway mark at two new locations! One is in partnership with the Hunts Point based community development corporation, The Point, where students are exploring the humanitarian possibilities of game design by unearthing forgotten local history. The other finds the OLP team with our partners at the Brooklyn Museum on the hunt for its collection's haunted treasures. Two very different tasks, two talented groups of students.

 

Here are some highlights from the first half:

 

Both groups got started by playtesting a previously made local game to get a feel for Taleblazer. Students at The Point got competitive and the games were well received...

 

 

Next, both groups visited the potential locations of their games. Visiting the Drake Park burial ground in Hunts Point raised interesting questions about how to respect difficult subject matter using an entertainment focused medium. The concept of games for change was explored and will be central to the students' work at The Point.

 

 

Students at the Brooklyn Museum had a lot to choose from when it came to spooky exhibit spaces. Possible haunts included the Schenck Family period Houses and Judy Chicago's Dinner Table. However, an almost unanimous vote set our sights on the visible storage lockers, which (literally) gave students the chills.

 

 

With our locations in mind for inspiration, the teams moved on to learning game elements and brainstorming story ideas. As new concepts surfaced, research got increasingly in-depth and brought weight to the students continued discussions. Judy Perry, Research Manager and one of the developers of the TaleBlazer software we use to build our location-based games, came down from Massachusetts Institute of Technology to visit with our students and support them during the brainstorming process.

 

 

At The Point, students learned of the forgotten slave burial ground. As we read the personal stories of New York's former slaves, connections were made to incidents of modern trafficking. The team became invested in giving a voice to their characters.

 

 

The Brooklyn Museum team got creative with a creepy story about the ghost of a runaway girl named Helen. Programming is underway and our final playtest for both teams is around the corner!

 


 

Special thanks to the Hive Learning Network, the Brooklyn Museum, the Point CDC the New York Community Trust, and the New York Public Library for their support of this project.

 

One Week Challenge! NYC Haunts at Exposure Camp 

This summer, Global Kids is teaming up with three Hive Learning Network partners around New York City to run Global Kids' signature location-based game program, NYC Haunts. As we serve diverse populations and adjust to new settings, we are also stretching, growing, and adapting our curriculum to prepare for a roll-out of the program across multiple Global Kids school sites in the Fall.

 

The first stop was Exposure Camp, a program that guides teenagers from the Mt. Vernon and north Bronx areas to create and program their own digital content.

 

Alora Cholette, an Adelphi University Community Fellow working with GK OLP for the summer, provides her reflections from the field:

 

Efficiency was the name of the game at Exposure Camp. Students were faced with the challenge of designing a location-based game in just one week! Boy did they step up to the task.

 

 

Taking inspiration from their own experiences and those of local idols, the students created a game about a young boy named Patrick. Newly arrived to Mt. Vernon, Patrick is afraid to explore the area because of rumors he's heard about its reputation. However, he has dreams of becoming a famous rapper, which aren't going anywhere with him stuck inside.

 

Suddenly, the ghost of Mt. Vernon hip hop artist, Heavy D, appears and sends Patrick on a journey to get to the local festival Arts on 3rd. On the way, Patrick has to help other Mt. Vernon celebrities in order to collect Heavy D's song lyrics, which talk about the pride the rapper has in his neighborhood.

 

 

In order to make the game, the students kept up an energetic pace for 5 days of intensive game design. We started by brainstorming basic elements, which developed into interesting in-depth conversations about how perceptions from outside can effect how we see ourselves from within a culture.

 

Specific topics came up as we explored the neighborhood and researched its history. The students wanted to focus on how a game could be used to improve their surroundings.

 

 

Once the idea of local entertainers and artists became our focus, we moved on to testing paper prototypes, and coding the final product. 

 

Creativity was in the air and their level of engagement within the tight timeframe was impressive and a joy to be a part of!

 

 

Special thanks to the Hive Learning Network, Exposure Camp, the New York Community Trust, and the New York Public Library for their support of this project.