MOORE — Central Junior High Room 935 was abuzz on Wednesday as eighth-graders showed Plaza Towers Elementary students the captivating creations they had made just for them.
Keybords clicked, computer mouses scrolled and cameras rolled in the classroom where junior high video design students showed the younger ones the video games they had imagined, designed, coded and brought to life.
The students used coding and frame animation on the design programs Scratch and Game Factory 2 to create their projects. While using the emerging technology might seem daunting to some adults, the eighth-graders said anyone can learn the skills.
“Our teacher taught us a lot, but honestly if you have a computer, you can teach yourself just by doing a little research,” said Dylan Zuza, 13. “It’s a little hard at first, but soon you’ll get the hang of it. The most important thing is that you are creative and have a sense of adventure.”
Learning life lessons
The trendy class was designed and approved by Moore school administrators about four years ago, said John Davidson, instructural technology coordinator.
“All high schools and this junior high in Moore offer this class to students,” class instructor Victor Rook said.
“The idea was to use video games, something they are passionate about, as a vehicle through which they can learn everything — the math that puts the game together, the art that brings it to life and the literature that allows them to tie it all together and tell a story,” Rook said.
To deliver a positive message to Plaza Towers Elementary students, who lost their school and seven classmates in the May 20 tornado, the eighth-graders reached out to the elementary students and asked them about their favorite cartoon characters.
From there the eighth-grade projects took off, using the characters as protagonists in the video games they created.
Plaza Tower second- through sixth-graders sat at desks to play the video games and cheered with delight upon learning that their favorite cartoon characters were the heroes of each video game.
Plaza Tower second-grader, Kenzi Shipman, 8, said her favorite video game involved the challenge of landing a spaceship on a narrow red line. It reminded her of the concentration it takes to play basketball.
“This is so cool,” she said. “I can’t believe they did this themselves. It makes me want to learn how to do it, too.”
Billy Wilcox, 14, said the eighth-graders were teaching and learning much more than how to design videos.
“If you’re being bullied, you can use games like this to defeat the bully or the villain. If you feel alone, you can create all of these friends. If you feel down and are facing challenges, you can make yourself the hero in the game and overcome the obstacles in front of you,” Wilcox said.
“If they are learning these lessons now, that there is no villain too big to conquer, no obstacle too great to overcome, imagine what would happen if they applied those beliefs in real life,” Rook said.