Local students spent last week delving into game theory, computer programming and e-commerce in a weeklong program put on by Grow a Generation.
Students learned about game design, coding, software programs, e-commerce markets and more. The camp was held at Cardinal Wuerl North Catholic High School and was made in collaboration with the Air Heritage Museum.
The end product was a video game made for the museum, in which the player drops emergency supplies to soldiers in World War II
“They partnered with Air Heritage Museum to create a game about the C-47 Skytrain (cargo plane) called Luck of the Irish that is being renovated at their Beaver County hanger,” said Ellen Cavanaugh, CEO of Sewickley-based Grow a Generation.
The students took their game to the museum and had C-47 pilots test out the program.
“They gave it two thumbs up,” said Cavanaugh.
The group’s programmer, Grant Harsch, 15, said this is his second year with this program.
“I made the middle part, the scene where the cargo is dropped,” he said.
That scene contains the interactive gameplay portion of the project.
The other scenes included the opening sequence and the closing sequences: one for each of the possible outcomes of the mission.
But last week wasn’t only about games.
One of the students, Lauren Karg, was interested in e-commerce and headed the area of the site selling merchandise that is now available for purchase.
All the money raised goes to the Air Heritage Museum.
Much of the camp was spent teaching game theory apart from computer programming or other mediums.
Students researched the ideas and structures behind different games and examined why they did or did not work according to their research.
“It was an incredible week,” said Cavanaugh. “Each day we focused on elements of good game design. We referred often to Jesse Schell’s book on “The Art of Good Game Design.”
Students analyzed games across mediums including card games, video games and even virtual reality.
“The kids were thrilled with the virtual reality goggles they received as a gift from the Pittsburgh Zoo, and spell bound by Jesse’s (Schell’s) talk on the topic,” Cavanaugh said.
The game is built on a program called Scratch, a free visual programming language that was developed at MIT. It is often used by students and in classrooms before delving into the more advanced programming languages.
For more information about last week’s project, visit skytraincargorun.weebly.com.
Grow a Generation’s next camp will revolve around virtual reality and will be catered to the enrolled students’ experience levels.
“We’re starting a virtual reality class in the fall,” Cavanaugh said. “It’ll be in the evenings.”
No previous programming experience is required.
Grow a Generation runs programs and educational camps throughout the year. For more information, visit growageneration.com.