Video Games Lesson Plan: Take the STEM Challenge!

Submitted by: Angela Watson

Grade Levels: 6-8, 9-12

In this lesson plan, which is adaptable for grades 6-12, students use BrainPOP resources to explore the importance of STEM (Science, Technology, Engineering, and Math) in both education and career options. Students will identify some core STEM concepts that go into the design of video games and explain the relevance of video gaming to various careers within the games industry and beyond. They will also analyze vocabulary and techniques related to the creation of video games, and develop a web-based or paper-based video game in accordance with the National STEM Video Game Challenge guidelines.

Students will:

  1. Understand the importance of STEM (Science, Technology, Engineering, and Math) in both education and career options.
  2. Identify some core STEM concepts that go into the design of video games (games physics, systems thinking, logic, etc.).
  3. Explain the relevance of video gaming to various careers within the games industry and beyond.
  4. Analyze vocabulary and techniques related to the creation of video games.
  5. Develop a web-based or paper-based video game in accordance with the National STEM Video Game Challenge guidelines.

Materials:

  • Computer and projector to show Internet resources

Vocabulary:

software; concept; collide; polygon; illusion; texture; interactive; glitch; compelling; immerse

Preparation:

Familiarize yourself with the National STEM Video Game Challenge information. Though the contest is over as of March 2011, the directions and guidelines remain posted so you can complete the contest in your own classroom and/or school. You may want to assign the game creation as a classwork or homework assignment, or as an extra credit opportunity. Select sub-deadlines if you would like students to show your their work prior to your final deadline.

Lesson Procedure:

  1. Show the vocabulary tab of the Activity page and challenge students to discuss how the terms might relate to video gaming. Why might vocabulary like 'polygons', 'immerse', and 'compelling' be included in this movie? Record students' thoughts by typing them directly into the page.
  2. Open a new window or tab and show the Video Games movie.
  3. Return to the Activity page and encourage students to share new connections they've made. You might also want to challenge them by reading some of the advanced terms on the Language tab of the FYI page to see if the class can explain the terms' relevance.
  4. For which jobs might the information in the movie be relevant? Facilitate discussion by showing the Careers tab on the FYI page.
  5. To get students excited about the future of video gaming and related careers, display the Graphs, Stats, and Numbers tab on the FYI page. Explain that it's time for students to have a chance to get involved and hone their skills!
  6. Introduce the STEM contest, originally designed as a contest for students in grades 5-8 as part of President Obama's STEM initiative. Encourage students to create submissions for a class/school contest, reminding them that paper-based games are also accepted.
  7. Set up a clear schedule for students to complete their entries either in class, at home, or in some combination of the two.
  8. Remind students of the deadline. In the coming weeks, encourage students to share their game concepts and the work they've done. If possible, allow class time for students to provide input on one another's projects using the judging criteria for the contest. Provide an opportunity for students to share their completed work in a presentation to the class.

Extension Activity:

To help you get off to a running start, we've created BrainPOP Game Design 101, full of tips to help your students succeed! Check out the document in the Worksheets section above! Consider involving other classes and teachers in your school, and setting up a National STEM Video Game Challenge night for students to share the games they created with their classmates and community!


Downloadable Resources:

BrainPOP-Game Design 101.pdf


BrainPOP Movies:

Video Games