TeacherQuest Brings Game-Like Learning to Colorado

What does it take to make learning irresistible?

In Aurora, thirty educators are working to crack this question wide open through the TeacherQuest Colorado Fall Course. In this professional development program, provided in collaboration with Aurora Public Schools, educators are creating games to use in their classrooms and designing powerful new ways to engage students. Game designers are also in attendance, collaborating with educators on the game design process and supporting the use of games in the classroom.

Educators meet every three weeks in person to learn about the fundamentals of game design for learning. Across a series of seven workshops, participants brainstorm, prototype, and test ideas together to bring back to their schools. In between sessions, educators are sharing, testing, and refining their ideas with students and colleagues on the TeacherQuest online community site.

The course will culminate in a Game Jam on Saturday, February 20, where participating teachers will have the opportunity to share the games and learning experiences they have designed and receive feedback from students, parents, educators, school and district leaders, and community members. Sign up for our mailing list to receive an invitation to the Game Jam! 

Fall Break Day Camp Takes Aurora Students on a Mission to Mars

3… 2…. 1... Blast off!

During fall break, a group of sixteen Aurora students from ages 8 - 11 joined Institute of Play and the ROCK Community Center on a Mission to Mars.

Throughout the week, campers took on the roles of scientists, engineers and physicists and worked together to rescue Commander Taylor, an astronaut who was stranded on Mars.

Several members of the The Studio School design team facilitated the camp, with the help of members of our Youth Design Team, who served as mentors for the younger students.

On day one, campers received their first dispatch from Commander Taylor.

Campers used math, science, and problem-solving skills to learn about the size of our solar system, estimate the distance between planets, and grapple with the implications for communication with Commander Taylor. Then they collaborated to break codes and send messages to the astronaut.

On the second day, campers began to solve problems for the abandoned astronaut. They explored the health benefits of different foods, and calculated the number of calories the astronaut would need until he could be rescued. Then campers in Mission Control groups sent video messages to the Commander with detailed information about what he should eat, what he shouldn’t eat, and how he could plant food to help him survive until rescue.

On the final day, campers teamed up to find a path through the unforgiving Martian terrain. Using trial and error, they made their way across a maze, and used the information they had learned to map out a detailed route for the stranded astronaut. Finally, campers built and launched rockets, testing and improving them through multiple iterations, until they were able to save Commander Taylor, who joined the campers and their parents in person for a final celebration.

Giving Young People a Voice in School Design

The Youth Design Team are a group of students from William Smith High School who are volunteering their time and expertise to help design better learning opportunities for younger students.

By interviewing other students and reflecting on their own middle and high school experiences, they’re bringing student perspectives into the school design process, and shaping the vision and values of the Studio School -- especially in areas that are important to them, like cultivating a supportive and safe school climate, and building strong student-teacher relationships.  

And we’ve been keeping them busy! Led by mentor Adam York, members of the Youth Design Team have:

  • visited nonprofits and cultural institutions in Denver to talk with younger students about what they need from a learning environment,
  • helped facilitate a game design workshop with teachers and students,
  • and brainstormed ways to cultivate student leadership in the early stages of The Studio School.

Many of the Youth Design Team members will also be participating in a 3D Prototyping Intensive with Denver Public Library's ideaLAB. In this week-long course, they will imagine ideas for a legacy gift to The Studio School that will be constructed in the Spring of 2015.

They’ll also have the opportunity to facilitate a "Boss Level" workshop this Fall, leading other students in their community in an experience to enhance learning through games.

Read about our project in Chalkbeat

Chalkbeat Colorado stopped by our recent Game Jam in Denver to find out more about The Studio School and why teachers and students are getting excited about game-like learning.

Game-based learning gives students a challenge outside of textbooks (Chalkbeat: July 1, 2015)