It’s the year 3000. There’s zero life on earth and the ground is fire. You’re a llama who’s been kidnapped.
This is the premise for Escape Earth, a video game created by a group of Sir James Douglas Elementary School students.
“You have to try and make it through a level without falling off the platforms,” Bee Kelly, one of the students and the game’s marketing manager, said.
The game consists of more than a dozen levels, as well as math questions, and was one of many video games showcased Friday at Richmond gym. Each game on display was coded by grade 4 and 5 students from Greater Victoria School District schools, as part of the Coding Quest: A Student Arcade event.
“The kids are so invested in the process,” Jon Hamlin, a district vice-principal, said.
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The event not only teaches the students the basics of coding — they use a program called Scratch, which allows students to code in blocks, as opposed to text-based codes — but also allows the students to draw from lessons from other areas of the classroom, according to Hamlin. He referred to the process as “cross-curricular connection.”
“It’s almost like the kids don’t realize they’re getting all that knowledge in those other areas,” he said.
Other games on display included one in which the user plays as an explorer searching for food, and another, titled Choose Your Path, involved a series of obstacles.
“You’re walking home from school and a portal opens up and you get sent through obstacles,” student Lola Leopkey, also from Sir James Douglas Elementary School, said of her group’s project. She was also the group’s marketing manager.
Hamlin said students spent between one to three months working on the games.
When asked if the event can be overwhelming for teachers who don’t have a background in coding, he noted the ease at which some present-day coding programs translate to the classroom.
“The nice thing now is there are a lot of platforms in place for students to get the building blocks.”
One student who helped Leopkey on the Choose Your Path game said the first step to learning to code is to practice.
“Just experiment and try making stuff,” the student said. “When you actually make something, it feels really good because you were just experimenting.”
This year was the third year for the event.