As the new school year begins, Games for Change is introducing G4C Learn, an expanded range of learning programs to support educators as they continue to navigate a combination of in-person and virtual teaching and learning. Building on the success of our flagship G4C Student Challenge program — a national program that has reached over 35,000 students since 2015 — G4C Learn will create more opportunities for students and educators to use games and game design to reimagine learning.
G4C Learn programs tap into the unique potential of games and game design to transform learning in many different ways. While game design can drive youth interest and engagement in computer science and STEM, it is also a powerful tool for activating 21st-century skills and SEL skills such as empathy, cooperation, communication, problem-solving, and systems thinking — all necessary skills to thrive in our changing world. Our hands-on, participatory programming is designed to help educators and youth explore the possibilities of games.
Based on a proven game design curriculum honed through the G4C Student Challenge, all of our programs share an approach to learning that is focused on four key principles:
- Designing playful learning experiences – Our workshops and programs for students and educators are rooted in the principles of games, so they are hands-on, playful, and collaborative. No lectures here!
- Integrating STEAM and SEL skills – All of our workshops and programs integrate STEAM and SEL skills to not only drive interest and engagement in computer science and STEAM fields but also equip young people with the SEL skills such as cooperation, communication, and complex problem solving, required to succeed in school and beyond.
- Creating safe and inclusive environments– We believe in meeting all learners where they are — whether we are working with youth or educators, we strive to make our programs relevant to their existing skills, knowledge, interests, and expertise. As designers at heart, we encourage trial and error through active playtesting and experimentation and believe that failure is (the most important) part of the learning process.
- Increasing impact – We believe in educators and believe teaching is an art and a practice that can grow and change. To that end, we build professional development for educators into our programs to ensure the impact reaches beyond the individual student and transforms teaching practice.
Our fall calendar offers several opportunities for students, educators, and parents to get involved:
G4C Student Challenge
Our flagship learning program, the G4C Student Challenge, invites students to create digital games about issues impacting their communities. The Challenge is a national game design competition open to middle and high school students in the US. Students create and submit an original impact game focused on one of the Challenge themes for a chance to win prizes, including tech, scholarships, and industry experiences. Students and teachers can access free curriculum online. Additional programs are available in select cities, including professional development for teachers, in-school and after-school game-making courses, student game jams and workshops, and mentorship by professional game designers.
The impact themes for the 2021-2022 program include:
- Voice of a New Generation: Games that propose solutions to make the process of voting more accessible and encourage young people to vote, in partnership with the New Georgia Project.
- Sustainable Cities: Games about solutions to the climate crisis and ways to make our homes, schools, and communities more resilient and sustainable, in partnership with NRDC.
- Shaping the World for Difference: Games that remove barriers and incorporate accessibility practices for learning differences so they can be enjoyed by everyone and raise awareness about learning and thinking differences like ADHD and dyslexia, in partnership with social impact non-profit Understood.
This year, we are adding new modules to the program that focus on game design career awareness and readiness with the support of the Best Buy Foundation. And with the support of the Verizon Foundation, we will be adding a new category to our competition, the XR Innovation Challenge. Students will explore emerging media and submit games in AR and VR to the new category.
If you’d like to get involved with the Student Challenge, fill out the G4C Educator Interest form.
The Game Plan fellowship empowers museum educators to bring game design into youth programs in their museums. In partnership with the Institute of Museum and Library Services, Game Plan provides professional development for museum educators to integrate G4C Learn’s innovative hands-on game design curriculum to increase youth engagement. The second cohort of the Game Plan program will kick off in October.
Supported by the Stevens Initiative and funded by the U.S. State Department, Game Exchange reimagines cross-cultural connections with a virtual exchange program focused on game design. Game Exchange will bring together nearly 3,000 teens from the United States, Bahrain, Israel, and the United Arab Emirates for creative dialogue and collaborative projects that use G4C Learn’s game design curriculum to promote cultural exchange.
And in addition to these programs, G4C Learn will continue to provide a robust offering of professional development workshops focused on helping educators bring game design and game design tools into their learning environments, such as our suite of Epic Games Workshops and our Introduction to Unity workshops.
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