Put on your thinking caps, get those creative juices flowing and let your imagine run wild – this year's Australian STEM Video Game Challenge is on. Registrations for the annual competition open today and the theme for 2018 is ‘Transformation'.
Students in Years 5-12 are invited to form teams of between one and four members and work with a nominated adult (such as a teacher) as a mentor to design, build, test and create an original video game. Don't worry, you don't have to be an expert – there are a raft of resources to support students, teachers and parents.
The challenge is facilitated by the ACER Foundation, the charitable arm of the Australian Council for Educational Research. One of the central aims is to help prepare students for the future by fostering their STEM (science, technology, engineering and mathematics) skills and knowledge.
Explaining the 2018 theme, the challenge team says the world around us is transforming all the time. ‘Transformation can happen quickly or it can be slow and gradual; it can be physical, chemical or emotional. It can change the world we live in, the creatures we live with and the way we think about the world we live in.'
As a useful starting point, the challenge team has put together some stimulus questions around different aspects of transformation in relation to metamorphosis, growth, revolution, evolution and adaptation.
In previous years, schools have run the competition as a classroom project and as an extracurricular activity. And, although the final product is a video game, it's about much more than coding. Victorian educator Seamus Curtain-Magee – mentor to one of the 2017 winners, Team Kalianna – told Teacher, students also benefited from the teamwork aspect, working to deadlines and taking personal accountability for their contribution to the final product (whether it be in storytelling, music creation, artwork or coding tasks).
Peter Cook, teacher mentor to 2017 winners Pyro Box from Maroochydore State High School in Queensland, adds the challenge is a great way to bring real world learning into the classroom. ‘[It] provides students with the opportunity to have their game played and judged by industry experts and consumers. The result for the students is to see their hard work is purposeful.
‘The students are very enthusiastic about returning to the competition again. It provides students with positive outcomes. They are able to produce a tangible product, that they are passionate about that could turn into a career for them.'
Registrations for the Australian STEM Video Game Challenge 2018 open on 20 February and close on 27 April, game submissions open on 23 July and close on 3 August, and the winners will be announced on 3 October.
For more information about the Australian STEM Video Game Challenge and to download student, teacher and parent resources visit www.stemgames.org.au.