I spent today in Rotherham at the Magna Science Adventure Centre for one of the days comprising the week-long Games Britannia event. John Bevan (Learning Partnerships Lead for Mozilla) had asked if I could attend as he wasn’t able to make it up there from London. I was more than happy to oblige.
Whilst it was disappointing that some schools who had booked the (free) places didn’t turn up, there was still a really positive vibe around the place. I particularly enjoyed the chance to get my hands on a Raspberry Pi. In that particular session it was hooked up to a monitor so that we could play around with Scratch, the visual programming language from MIT.
Although I’ve had a cursory mess about with Scratch, it’s always good to have time set aside and be in the presence of someone (in this case Ashley Brown) who could show me how to do things. In the space of half an hour I’d created an odd kind of game where you were a bat avoiding another bat. If the other bat ‘got’ you, then it got a point and you changed colour. All good fun.
After the VIP lunch (which I blatantly gatecrashed) I went to the Minecraft Edu workshop where I played with Minecraft for the first time. It’s one of those things that you think “this is amazing!” but then struggle to think of direct applications for current ways of doing things in school. In my experience, however, the more you play with such open-ended environments, the more it becomes clear how they can be applied to learning.
Finally, the main hall at Magna was full (and I mean FULL) of all kinds of gaming machines, including some fro my youth – and some from even earlier than that. Unsurprisingly, most of the children stuck to what they knew (XBox 360, PS3, Nintendo 3DS) but a few brave souls had a go at the BBC Micros, Acorns and Sega Megadrives. Wonderful.
This was the inaugural Games Britannia event; I do hope it will run next year! Monday-Friday was focused on schools, with this weekend being a chargeable event where members of the public can come in to play on the consoles, etc. that I mentioned above. I’m looking forward to next year when it becomes bigger and better. Because this felt like the start of something which could eventually be potentially huge.
Update: In my haste to post this I neglected to say how awesome this was for a couple of people organising this over-and-above their everyday, busy, jobs in a local school. Huge props for that!