Mobile STEM: Game Design!

By Jeremy Knowlton

WMSI Mobile STEM Lab Explorers have begun their final projects of the year. Using the knowledge they've accumulated from previous sessions, they've been challenged with one of our most open-ended and exciting prompts yet! The task is for students to design their own games using Scratch coding, LEGO Robotics, paper circuitssensors, and Makey Makeys. Games are great, having been used for thousands of years to teach valuable skills, such as speed, eye-hand coordination, reading, and math in an engaging way. What makes this challenge unique is that students are given a very interesting constraint - the game must be part electronic and part physical. Cool! 

Students began by getting together in groups and brainstorming. They then answered several important questions to frame their game. All good games teach something, so that as you practice the game you increase your chances of winning. What would their game teach? They also asked the important question, "what technology will we use in our game?" We originally were worried about students not having enough direction in this extremely open-ended prompt, but STEM Explorers took off with the challenge, grabbing cardboard, scissors, tin foil, wires, and robotics kits to begin their designs!

Explorers endearingly named this game board "The Octopus".

Explorers endearingly named this game board "The Octopus".

Every project involved coding. Some groups in Milan designed and coded board games that had conductive tiles you could land on. Every time a game piece landed on that tile, it triggered the computer code to randomly draw a riddle or challenge that they had to accomplish to move on!

One group in Lancaster designed a pattern game (below) with copper tape, a red LED, and a yellow LED. You spin the wheel to get a random color pattern you need to complete, such as "red red, yellow, red, yellow yellow." You then have 10 seconds to correctly light up the LEDs in the correct pattern to move onto the next challenge!


The group below designed a board game with different colored tiles. Each color was a different kind of challenge. For example, if you landed on red, you had to throw a conductive ball at a target. If you hit the target, it completed a circuit and prompted the computer code to start cheering! So cool!

One student (below) even designed a board game that used a conductive button and a random number generator to perform an electronic dice roll for his game!

All in all, students of the North Country again demonstrated their amazing creativity and problem solving skills, and along the way had many grins, laughs, and goofy jokes. Looking forward to see what the STEM Explorers do next week!