Montgomery Public Schools students sit in chairs in front of a stage, waiting for their teams to be called on to present a video game they spent a semester designing. Finalist teams hail from Baldwin, Southlawn and Bellingrath.
In collaboration with Ed Farm, the students took a class called Introduction to Innovation. The hook of the class, designing your own video game, provided an entry for students to learn about art, STEM, project management, coding, teamwork and more.
On Friday, they presented their games in turn at Urban Nerd Con at the Cramton Bowl.
Southlawn’s game is called “Survive Covid.” Bellingrath has a video game about the intersection of poverty and pollution. Baldwin’s play, “A Normal Zoo,” addresses animal abuse.
Ed Farm student scholarship specialist Emma Courington, who also worked with the classes throughout the semester, said the topics were chosen by the students themselves. They were told they had to pick a project and they went on their way from there,” Courington said.
He said that children are much more aware than we think when asked about heavy subjects.
“I said, ‘Hey, as a team, you’ve got to find a challenge that you’re passionate about,'” he said. “And that’s what they came up with. So it was all student-led.”
The children have PowerPoints that explain the themes and design of the games. Each team has a slide full of their main characters’ art, usually colorful and each with a different art style than the others.
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Tina Lewis was the teacher on the Bellingrath team, although she will be moving to Southlawn next school year. She cheers her team on throughout the event.
In the end, Southlawn’s “Survive Covid” was announced as the winner. Voting came from two sources: There were three judges, but Urban Nerd Con attendees could also vote in the kids’ booths throughout the day.
Team member Jacody Brown talked about the fun they’ve had throughout the year.
“So would we have lost? We would have been just as happy,” Jacody said.
They were a little worried, he said, because the cases of COVID were going down and they weren’t sure their idea was still relevant.
Then the cases increased during the summer. In their presentation, they noted that COVID should be taken seriously and many people had died.
The team had rehearsed the presentation before the big event. They were still nervous.
Beth Sanders, vice president of learning with Ed Farm, talked about how she saw the kids’ confidence grow throughout the semester. The kids who were now on stage and talking to strangers in the booths were ones I never would have expected at the beginning of the semester.
Jemma Stephenson is the children’s and education reporter for the Montgomery Advertiser. She can be reached at email@example.com or 334-261-1569.