Awards announced for the Future Game Designer Challenge – El Rancho Charter School Students Get Top Honors in Middle School Games and Women Designed Game Divisions.  

Olathe, Kansas June 3, 2013 – The Support Learning Foundation (SLF) announced the Women Designed and Middle School Division winners of the 7th Annual Future Game Designer Challenge, a competition for middle and high school students to create the next generation of edutainment games. Teams from El Rancho Charter School’s Video Game Design took 1st and 3rd Places in the Middle School Division and 2nd Place in the Women Designed Game Division. The students learned of their win today in a video conference that included Troy Coffey (teacher), John Besta and Michele Walker  (principals) and Steve Waddell, the founder of I Support Learning, Inc. (the creator of the competition).

This year’s competition drew competitors from all over the US. Middle and high school students created a wide array of engaging games to teach students a variety of topics including: math, marine biology, medicine, electricity, language, history and space. All of these games had three main things in common. The first is that they were fun to play, they engaged learners in active learning, and they supported state learning standards.

“We want students to be creative,” commented Steve Waddell, the foundation’s founder. “We tell the challengers that the first thing you have to worry about in getting a student to learn is to get them engaged. So, this competition has students creating games that draw the player in. Once engaged, the game must be designed to have the player interact with the concepts and learn.”

“This is our 7th year and we all were very impressed with the games that were submitted to the FGDC.  Mr. Coffey’s class submitted three games this year and they were all fantastic. Gold Filled Mine – I knew it was going to be a winner,” said Donna Goodman who helped with the game reviews. “Mr. Coffey’s classes have always submitted great games, but this is the first year his teams ranked so high. It tells you that he has a great program going on at this school.”

El Rancho Charter School Team National Rankings

Middle School Edutainment Division

First Place –   The Gold Filled Mine

By Viktor Lazarev and Shaun Martin

3rd Place –      Mad Minute Test Prep

By Ethan Williams

Women Design Edutainment Division

2nd Place-       Circuit Bonanza

Lily Yang, Megan Pham

“My students look forward to this competition. They love the idea of creating a game that will help others to learn. It makes the learning that they are doing in class more relevant to them. This is real world problem solving and critical thinking all with the edge of a competition. It is fun to watch them so motivated and engaged in my class. It really is a terrific capstone to my video game design class,” said Troy Coffey.  “In class my students prove they can work in teams and are becoming prepared the the 21st century skills they will need to succeed. This competition gives them a place where they can see how their work stacks up to other students who are investing in learning through a career themed approach. This was not easy for them and I’m impressed and proud of their work. They all learned the importance of sticking to a project to the end. “

“Terrific work – El Rancho Charter School continues to create more competitive games in their 3D video game design program and it is great to see the next generation of designers and creators spreading their wings via this competition,” continues Steve Waddell. “All judges and I were delighted with the three games El Rancho Charter School submitted. A Gold Filled Mine engages learning in the story of the 49ers and California history. Mad Minute Test Prep is a heart pounding game that allows students to prep for math, language or science. Circuit Bonanza has the learner helping to save the city by using their knowledge of electricity to help a character in the game. This competition shows the validity of having students create games to help teach other students. With the Future Game Designer Challenge we see students rising up to the challenge and make useful edutainment games.”

As part of the competition students had to turn in a developers log, document their code, show how their game helped meet state and national learning standards, create marketing materials like posters, cd cases and cd labels. They had to create an engaging storyline and then make the game support the story concept. Steve Waddell the founder of I Support Learning, Inc. and one of the judges stated, “One purpose to this competition is to get students to take responsibility to help the next generation. It is why our competition is about creating edutainment games. It is fun to see what happens when you give students the keys to the car, so to speak, and let them drive the game to whatever destination they choose.”

The students learned their game design skills through an innovative career simulation curriculum created by I Support Learning, Inc. Mr. Coffey uses the Video Game Design course as a way to introduce students to programming via a highly interactive career simulation that makes learning math, language, science, technology and 21st century skills very engaging to the digital native. To the learner, the course is an interactive role-play game that looks and feels like a real high-tech internship. Students come into the class with little or no programming skills and leave with their own 3D video game. Mr. Coffey has been using the ISL’s Video Game Design career themed course since 2008.

“We were very fortunate in our sponsorship this year. We have a number of other sponsors including Web Professionals Organization, ITWomen.org, The Engineering, Computer Science and Technology Department at Cal State LA, the Instructional Design Department at Emporia State University and I Support Learning, Inc.

About The Support Learning Foundation.

SLF (www.supportlearningfoundation.org) The Support Learning Foundation believes that education – if encouraged and provided – can allow individuals to achieve their dreams and maximize their potential. Therefore, the Support Learning Foundation is committed to creating change by providing research, development, and deployment of innovative methodologies and technologies. SLF was founded by I Support Learning, Inc, owner Steve Waddell in 2007.