Kalkie State School students have earned third prize in the National Game Design Challenge with their student-created game ‘Flee the Foliage’.
Run by Sydney-based educational company Arludo, the National Game Design Challenge sees teams of students from primary schools around the country compete to develop a video game based on a science problem about which they would like to raise awareness.
The challenge garnered 537 registrations that were shortlisted to 36 projects by Arludo for the public to vote on their favourites.
The Kalkie students’ entry, based on the symbiotic relationship between Noddy Terns and Pisonia trees on Lady Musgrave Island, was ranked in the top 10 after over 20,000 votes were cast.
The class of 25 year six students, guided by Digital Technologies teacher Samantha Ephraims, pitched scienced based ideas to each other before settling on the local connection for their game.
“When you use information that's close to home, you get the warmth through it, it becomes more genuine,” Samantha said.
“That's one of the things, when we were looking at the concept, we said, well, how can we support our community; let's make it Musgrave Island rather than an island.
“Let's make it the Pisonias and the Noddy Terns, because we know that's what we have here.
“If we win this, it's Lady Musgrave Island, it would shine a light back on our community and on Bundaberg Region.”
Student Bree Cooper was one of five students who committed lunch and before school time to developing the game concept for entry into the challenge.
The students investigated how the Pisonia tree’s seed pods stuck to the nesting Noddy Terns, inhibiting the bird’s ability to fly and causing the birds to fall to the ground where they ended up fertilising the tree.
The students then had to work out how that cycle of life could be turned into a gaming experience.
“We first thought about, like what style of game we wanted, survival, adventuring or something like that, and then we have to think of an idea which we based it on,” Bree said.
“We had to figure out what their main goal was.
“They had to go get the leaves for the female birds.
“I really liked how we were learning about the science as well.”
National Game Design Challenge
For the challenge, the students had to research the science, construct the game logic, write the game story, and design the game components.
Director of Arludo, Associate Professor Michael Kasumovic said the goal of the challenge was to engage students in a way that made science both enjoyable and relevant to their lives.
“I love how the students at Kalkie State have developed a game around a problem that is really important to them – helping people understand more about the white-capped Noddy and how important their habitat on Lady Musgrave Island is for their survival,” Michael said.
“It speaks to how much students of this generation care about their natural environment.”
Samantha said she hoped the school’s success in the challenge would encourage this year’s students and future students to dream big.
“My hope for this is that … we can provide another avenue for mentorship for these kids,” she said.
“I just think the world is changing very quickly and these opportunities help us to show our school community, and the wider community, how we can harness that rather than being afraid and just use it to make our community better.
“I really just hope we could get a regional technology hub here because we certainly have the potential, we have the space, we have the desire, and we also have amazing people working in tech in Bundy.”
Bree already has her sights set on continuing her coding and technology skills into high school and beyond.
“I reckon it would be good if I do have a job that involves that kind of thing, because then I'll have all the experience and I have the knowledge of doing it,” she said.
For Samantha, entering the challenge was not about winning, but about showing her students that their skills were valued and they could have big career goals in a regional area.
“I'm so proud of them, I really am, because they're just 11, you know?
“And I forget that often when I'm working with them,” she said.
Samantha, along with Kalkie State School Principal Malinda Findlay and the five students who developed the game concept, travelled to Sydney to attend the gala dinner and announcement of the winner earlier this week.