‘Game On!’: Fourth Grade Designers at Work

Fourth graders had a special visit from Burke’s ‘96 alumna and Riot Games Senior Product Manager, Stephanie Dee. Her visit coincided with the feedback phase of a unit where students are designing games for their clients — Lower School teachers!

Stephanie began the session with background on her journey to becoming a computer scientist. “I came to Burke’s in sixth grade and thought going to an all-girls school would be awesome. I was at a school with boys and there was this myth that girls weren’t good at math. After I came to Burke’s, I saw 40 amazing people in my grade that were all good at math — I realized those boys must be wrong. After that, I wanted to study math and science.”
 
The feedback session was a critical part of helping the students answer the essential question, “What makes a math game effective, fun, and engaging at different ages?” This project is a great example of how Burke’s weaves together multiple disciplines — math, art, design, social-emotional learning, language arts, and design — into engaging projects that help our students build skills needed to succeed in a complex world.
 
First, the students created “unboxing videos” of new math games that were ordered for the classroom this year. They shared the components of games, explained directions, created a rubric, and gave a review. Each group shared their unboxing/review video clips with the entire fourth grade. The games included Prime Climb, Pet Me, The Brilliant, and many other games that support engaging Lower School math students. Next, the students deconstructed games (a pop-up “Breakery") in Math/Makery, or as Ms. Howland calls it "The Mathery." They took apart games from Candyland and Operation to Mastermind and Ball Toss. Building off their newfound knowledge, they had the opportunity to ask a panel of game experts, both from Burke’s and the private sector, about best practices in game design and collected data from their Lower School teacher ‘clients’ to learn more about specific grade-level game needs.
 
The first phase of research complete, it was time to move on to prototyping! All designs started on paper to give students many opportunities to ideate, prototype, test and revise. This week they presented their physical prototypes to get feedback from their peers, teachers and in an exciting twist, Stephanie Dee! Over the next several weeks the students will move on to trial runs, focus groups, user interviews, revisions, and more. Stay tuned for the final game presentations!
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Burke's mission is to educate, encourage and empower girls. Our school combines academic excellence with an appreciation for childhood so that students thrive as learners, develop a strong sense of self, contribute to community, and fulfill their potential, now and throughout life.

Katherine Delmar Burke School

An independent K–8 school for girls
7070 California Street, San Francisco, CA 94121
Phone: 415.751.0177 Fax: 415.666.0535
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