Gilbert, Ariz.- High school and middle school students from across Arizona gathered for two full days of coding at the 5th Annual SPARK Game Jam, a coding competition created by Gilbert, Arizona in partnership with Arizona State University’s Fulton Schools of Engineering. This year’s theme focused on Earth Day and encouraged students to “hack the planet”.
I think it’s been a long time coming, but I’m really happy to be able to host an advanced-level event this year. This is the first time that SPARK has actually offered an event for students that are already experienced coders. In the past, we’ve tried to give students an introduction before each signature event and before the competitions conclude so that students that have an interest in coding have the opportunity to make something great even if they have no experience. Each year, though, we get feedback from a small but select group of students who already know how to code that want to use the skills they already have to make even better games and apps. Thanks to this outspoken group of students, we’re testing a format specifically aimed at these students – Game Jam Advanced.
Game Jam Advanced is more of what most programmers would consider a game jam or a hackathon. It’s a two-day event where students that already have experience coding on their own can brainstorm and code something based on a prompt but without the restrictions of a specific tool or programming language. Students are free to use whatever language and tools they prefer and I’m really excited to give them the freedom to really let their creativity go wild. While we’re not announcing the theme of the event until the morning of, I think students will appreciate the chance to work on something that resembles more of a real-world coding scenario rather than the step-by-step format we offer for our beginner event.
As we get closer, I’ll update the Contest page with more information about the event, but I’m happy to see that we’ve already got students registered and ready to compete. Registration will stay open until November 30th or until we hit capacity for the venue so, if you’re thinking about competing, don’t wait! Register now and get a chance to win some awesome prizes!
We just posted the results of SPARK Game Jam 2016 on the winners page and I just wanted to send out a few thank you’s:
- To all the teachers that participated – Thank you for making a difference for your students
- To the parents that watched the event from home – Thank you for supporting your children
- To the staff at ASU – Thank you for being amazing partners and helping make this a reality
- To our friends at Google – Thank you for investing in the future of the world and for inspiring kids to dream big
- To the team at Gilbert Digital – You guys rock! You make SPARK what it is.
- To everyone from Gilbert – Thank you for supporting Gilbert students and the future of Gilbert
- To all the students that participated – You are all amazing, you are inspiring, and you are all going to make the future *awesome*.
Thank you everyone that made this year’s SPARK event absolutely amazing.
We’re getting really close to our Game Jam so we’ll be sending out packets via email for all the teachers that will include the schedules for the 2-day event along with important information for transportation, amongst other things. We’ve confirmed all the teams for the event so if you need any further team changes or additions, please contact us ASAP!
We’re so excited to see everyone at the event! Let the games begin!!
I just posted the first week of student projects to the site and, before anyone jumps right to them, I want to explain what they are and give some tips on how teachers can use them and how students can get the most out of their SPARK experience with them. Continue reading…
All current student registrations have been confirmed. If you registered your team and haven’t received a confirmation email, please let us know as soon as possible. Teams *must* be registered by March 14th in order to attend the SPARK event in April!
I’ve gotten a few questions via email from teachers and teams about actually deciding on how to make a game and what makes a game fun, so I thought I’d offer some suggestions for books and reading that go into the non-coding aspects of making games. Continue reading…