Our last day at LCCS comprised of mini presentations by Parsons and LCCS students for the LCCS teachers and parents. At the end of my team’s presentation, our LCCS teammates had the opportunity to talk about their experiences and explain some aspects of Trash Trivia to the audience. Hearing them express how they found the co-design process and seeing them reflect on their experiences gave us valuable insight into the co-design process itself. The students commented positively about how they felt part of the process and liked seeing their drawings made into animations. It was very obvious for me when I was editing the short summary video that the students actually had a lot of say in all aspects of the game. Equally importantly, every person was involved in one aspect of Trash Trivia or another in one way or another. The summary video in my opinion shows this quite well as there are scenes showing everyone engaged. Finally, seeing the students’ reaction to the video was quite nice, especially when the students saw themselves in the video.
Chatting over pizza
After the presentations, the Parsons and LCCS students mingled over pizza. I found this part really enjoyable because we were in a social context, which was different from the co-design or teaching contexts we were in before. We made jokes and asked each other non-class-related questions which for me personally felt like it allowed me to see them in a different light. I enjoyed getting to know everyone and thoroughly enjoyed working with such smart kids.
To tie up the projects, we had a mini presentation/experience at LCCS. The middle schoolers were very excited to talk about their projects and play the role of being the teacher. They explained the concept of the project and lead discussions on what can be done with younger students.
At Playtech we were able to gain lots of feedback on our choice of questions and audio. Many teams of students from the event were eager to play! After the run-through of a few games, we gathered our team together to see where our game needed improvement. Our MC (Richard) went over the questions and decided that only 5 answers should be given for each question. He also marked which questions were too difficult to answer in the short period of our game. We will take this document and edit it in the coming week to create a more enjoyable game. The audio became the other major point of critique – the loop of our theme song (borrowed from the original Family Feud game) and the ‘Boo’ or ‘Yay’ right answer recordings we gathered from our team were sometimes described as irritating or discouraging. We found that adjusting the volume helped, and we decided we would use the sound effects sparingly to avoid displeasing experiences.
Today we gave our final presentation on Trash Trivia. We showed all three of our iterations and the process involved to the LCC class and parents. An end of an era. After the presentation we were able to present Trash Trivia one final time to the after-school program of LCC. Young fourth graders eagerly lined up to play with an enthusiasm that surprised me. It was heartwarming. I will miss visiting these students and the Monday afternoons we spend creating something together. The opportunity to truly collaborate with students far younger, but mind far advanced, does not come by often. It was made me question the important role of teacher that I play out in my everyday life – with fellow students, friends, partners. We all must be teachers to those around us. It is one of the most difficult tasks we face as people. I have discovered that I love to be around children. As I get closer to an idea of what I want to do in life, I know it will have to involve being of service to those that inspire me to never outgrow my child-like experience of the world.
Back at LCC, we presented our final iteration to our LCC team. This iteration animated their own drawings as the background – we felt it was the best way to incorporate their ideas and designs directly into the game. Students really enjoyed the new iteration – many asked, “Wait, is that my drawing?” We felt we had finally created something they could be proud to display; something that was all their own.
The meeting progressed, and soon Bolor and I felt the loss of control that often appears in our time together. Our team is so energetic and all friends, and sometimes this makes it hard to stay on topic. In order to allow the team a sense of responsibility, I decided that each of them might benefit by being placed into roles: a few Master of Ceremonies, illustrators, question-advisors, and so on. Akin to a binding contract, I had each student sign their name beside their chosen role. The students seemed to have a new sense of purpose within the creation and presentation of the game! We divided tasks that still needed to be done by role and gave deadlines for the next week.
Finally, nearly completed with our game, we were able to test how the projection would work. Students within our Parsons class had built a screen out of pipes and fabric that would allow us to rear-project our game from the back, allowing the MCs to move freely in front of the game without blocking the projection. We attempted many different tying techniques, and I was quickly reminded why I had not exceled as a girl scout in my younger years. Nonetheless, the projection was up, and the game was clearly displayed by the end of class. We spent the rest of class tweaking the glitches that our game sometimes presented.
This must be the worst week for Trash Trivia. We had always been productive in our meetings with the LCC team. However, this week was not in person but over a Zoom meeting. We desperately tried to connect with our team, but our audio refused to work properly. We could not hear our team, and they could not hear us. We spent much of the hour yelling into the computer, hoping to get our points across. Many students lost interest and began running around the room. It brought up a lot of questions about the difference between in-person teaching and virtual teaching, which has been a topic of the class. I felt completely frustrated throughout the interaction knowing that I could not be there to keep the students engaged. I felt that physical presence could be severely underestimated by those that think virtual classrooms are the only future. And perhaps they are. But if they are going to work, they must somehow compensate for physical presence.
We spent the week at LCC presenting first iteration of Trash Trivia. We created the theme of a spooky futuristic forest with a main tree made of trash. The team did not quite respond as we thought – they felt the theme was a little unrelatable, and wanted more of a realistic, magical forest. We collected drawings from students to use as assets as we created our next iteration. We also wanted to text the timing for the game. We were aware that a game lasting longer than ten minutes would feel too long. Gathering our team, we were able to run through the game and found that three to four questions fit within our allowed time. Some students felt the questions had too many answers or that they were discouraging and too hard. We left this week going back to the drawing board.
This week we were back in the classroom working on our projects. Bolor and I were faced with the daunting task: how are we actually going to make this game work? Would it be an App, website, PowerPoint presentation, unity creation? How could we incorporate the family-feud style element while making this game our own? What are the rules? How will we decide which team goes first? Buzzer buttons that connect to the game? What program would be best to use? We spent the class getting together our ideas and throwing them violently at the whiteboard in hope of clarification. We ended class with clearer minds and the knowledge that there was a lot of work to be done.
We started this week by going to LCC to brainstorm with the students about the hero-stories they had created. These hero stories were fascinating – one was a magical seal that saved the ocean, another a farmer who sought to change his ways. Time spend around the table, moving seats every few minutes, were inspirational. Many of these hero journeys had the potential to turn into larger experiences, and this was our next step. Bolor and I gave our ‘Giving Tree and Plastic Soup’ game proposition and presentation to the LCC students, and the brainstorming began: get a group and turn your story into a game. Many students became excited to collaborate with each other and sticky-notes with game titles began to quickly appear. One group came up with the idea of a family-feud style game that would be about our planet earth, trash, and the themes of Earth Day. It would be called, “Trash Trivia.” Bolor and I were immediately drawn to this idea. When the voting on these ideas chose a few games, Trash Trivia was a part of the mix. We joined the group with high hopes.