Last Saturday, we held a successful and fun first day of the Science Game Design Workshop at the the Cal Academy. Led by Chris Bennett and his colleague Karen Guttieri from the Peace Innovation Lab at Stanford University, this is the first of what we hope will be a regular series of design and technology workshops for teens at the Academy.
We began with Amy Miller, director of the Academy's Public Programs department challenging the youth to come up with game prototypes on some issue related to ocean health. Amy said that if their games were good enough, they could be adapted to become an actual game that our 1.5 million visitors might play when they come to the museum.
To decide on which science topic to focus on, the teens were assisted by Academy biologist Pam Montbach, who gave them insights into oil spills, net entanglement, and other issues related to ocean health. After coming up with a couple of science topics they were interested in, the youth tried out different tabletop games to understand them better and see if they might be modified to teach people about their science topic. Some of the games were familiar, like "Go Fish," and others were brand new like "Pirate Dice" and "Atlantis."
After trying out a few games, the kids settled on two different card games focused on cleaning up ocean garbage and dealing with oil spills in the ocean. Most of the afternoon was spent trying out different game designs and rulesets to see how well they worked and how fun they were. Finally, the youth tried out each other's games, practiced presenting their game to each other, and gave each other constructive feedback.
On Day Two of the workshop next Saturday, youth will revise their games, come up with more functional working prototypes, and maybe even test out those prototypes out on the public floor. I'm looking forward to seeing their more finished products next weekend!
For more about youth workshops and events at the Cal Academy, contact us at youthprograms@ calacademy.org or digitallearning@ calacademy.org.