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March 17, 2016

How Our Game Can Teach Computer Science

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Last Thursday, we had the chance to interact with students. The class took place in the Salvation Army Lam Butt Chung Memorial School.

Our goal was to organize one hour of computer science education. We worked with Alice Lam to make it happen. It consisted in learning three concepts:

  • Algorithm
  • Sequence
  • Loop

We wanted the rhythm of the class proactive and inclusive. We used our upcoming game, “Save the Animals” to teach the three concepts. The feedback from the students was beyond our expectations.

Save the Animals is our best game so far. It is a puzzle game which teaches basic sequential and procedural programming logic! Students have to save the animals by ordering a set of commands such as jump, run, and climb.

It features:

  • 68 unique puzzles and 55 stars to collect
  • Unique platforming-programming hybrid gameplay
  • Achievements and progress review
  • Gain knowledge about endangered species

We will let you know once it’s released.

On that day, students sat in front of computers as our director Frankie introduced the class. Then each student listened to Frankie who gave them sheets of paper to apply the concepts learned. Doing this gives the students an opportunity to learn faster. Once everyone understood the exercise, everybody moved on playing the game.

Again, the class gave the perfect example of how to build momentum in the learning experience. First you start with some principles explained, then you move on with a concrete little work. And finally the students start playing the game.

The interest and excitement grow as the activities get more personal. It was a great testimony to see the interactions among the students. Playing the game was not an individual performance. When a student was stuck, there was always someone helping around. It was a great example of solving problems together.

Students learned about algorithm, sequence and loop. Let’s have a look at each one of this concepts below.

  • Algorithm is a step-by-step solution, it is like a cooking recipe for mathematics.
  • A sequence is a list of number or objects, or actions in a special order.
  • A loop is a sequence of instructions that’s repeated until the reach of a certain condition.

We were able to teach the three concepts with the game, some sheets of papers, and the interest of the students!

There are a couple of key lessons here to apply. When you start a computer science class, it’s better to engage right away the students. Ask them whether they already heard or learned about this before. That’s useful to warm up the class and identify the level of each one. Second it’s more efficient to vary the learning experience. We made it sure students had different interactions:

  • Live Q&A session
  • Papers and scissors to understand basic principles
  • Playing the game
  • Going deeper with Internet searches linked to the game

It’s our own loop to make sure the students understand the concepts.

And finally it’s important to let the students free to go to their own pace. Some did a great job and had some advance. Others needed more time and explanations behind. Each one having a computer made it easier.

We want to thank Alice Lam and the Salvation Army Lam Butt Chung Memorial School for this opportunity. We hope many more will happen in Hong Kong.

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