Landmark Christian School is excited about how children learn and ways to make learning come alive. Mr. Baffour Osei teaches his students how to be successful in STEM, then he steps back and encourages them to take the lead. By doing this, Mr. Osei allows space for the magic of learning to happen.
Playing to Learn
Ninety percent of children play video games - they have become part of our world. Recently, 9th-grade Engineering and Design student Levi Trask created a video game to learn more about programming and design, using computer software called Unity to create code to simulate gravity, motion, rotation, and regeneration. Through a second software called Blender, he designed obstacles for the game’s main characters to overcome.
Levi explains, "I started with the question of order. I had an idea about a game but wasn't sure where to begin ordering the game's creation sequence. The most challenging aspect was not having any prior knowledge of programming before beginning this class. The software was new to me." When students have a solid foundation to begin with, they know enough to apply it. The next step of the process of learning will present itself. Part of it is knowing enough to ask the next right question.
Levi took the strong foundations he had been taught by Mr. Osei and built from there. He applied and built upon his knowledge each step of the way. "When I got stuck, I would research. You have to know enough to ask the next right question,” he shares. With that, he could draw from a variety of informational sources to uncover what he needed to know. As he mastered one step of design, the next question would reveal itself. As he built upon his coding, programming, and design knowledge, he also made the game.
Levi learned from this process that he could take something he enjoys doing and create something new. He would like to move into 2-D game creation in a style similar to Mario Brothers. Levi also learned that to move forward with an idea, we first have to be willing to step out of our comfort zone and, like the character in his game, continue to build skills by tackling the obstacles in front of us. Trust what we know so far, continue asking questions, and be bold enough to risk it in creative spaces.
“Over my time at Landmark Christian School, my role as a teacher continues to reveal itself to me. At first, I thought I had to guide my students most of the time and be involved in a majority of the steps; however, I have now come to understand that it is my responsibility to provide the best learning environment, whatever that means and however it changes. And while this could change, right now I have learned the best teacher for my students is not me, but experience: I give them the basics to let them know what is out there so that they know how to approach it and ask useful questions. Afterward, I get out of their way and let the experience of building something give them depth within that subject matter. This personalizes the learning process for them because they only come to me with questions that are relevant to what they are doing in that moment and those building experiences are what transform the subject matter from just a topic of discussion to something that by virtue of necessity in the moment has become important.
As I find better approaches, I will continue to adjust, but for now, this is where I am. Levi’s success in building his video game from scratch even though I taught him nothing about creating video games is a testament to my earlier statement of just creating a solid learning environment and getting out of the way.”