The games feature the Python programming language, taught by Alvin Jugoon and Lynda Yearwood.
"It’s nice to explain coding through the creation of purposeful programs, even though the students are still growing their own ideas around design thinking," Jugoon says. "They can make something meaningful, bridge the gap between age groups and develop something accessible to the younger learner. It’s great to see it unfold."
The project began with a conversation between Paul Miskew, Upper School design head, and Tina Jagdeo, Prep pluralism coordinator, about building bridges and the opportunity for students to be role models. Miskew "wanted Year 9s to learn code and build a game for Prep students, but didn’t know how to go about gauging their interests," says Jagdeo.
Jagdeo turned to the Prep librarians, Sarah Basinski and Mallory McKinney, for guidance. They chose a selection of books that offered themes of equity, diversity and inclusion.
"The books show protagonists with diverse voices who are living everyday lives," Jagdeo says. "They were read to the students in SK through Year 4 to determine what the youngsters enjoyed and what resonated with them. We were able to provide this feedback to the Year 9 coding classes."
With assistance from teachers and peers, the more than 60 coding students dove into the exercise with enthusiasm. Each student read the books and chose one as a starting point for creating an online game.
Marius Gjinali, a Year 9 student, used the book Jabari Jumps by Gaia Cornwall as a starting point for his game. The book follows the challenges of a boy who puts fear aside and jumps off a high diving board, so Marius focused his game on taking risks and geared it to Year 2 students.
"The best way to make a game is to incorporate both education and entertainment and pair risks with adventure," Marius says. “I stuck with that idea, with players facing off against their friends in a riddle battle. I'm excited about this; I put in a lot of work, but when I see one of the boys playing the game, it will be the apex of the entire experience."
Although COVID-19 restrictions will prevent the Year 9 students from watching the Prep students play the games in person, they’re eagerly awaiting feedback.