Black History Month: Scientist Arcade Games

For the past four years, my Science colleagues and I have collaborated on honoring black American scientists through a variety of projects such as our Black History Month Scientist Arcade Games.

The learning targets for this #EveryoneCanCode project are the following:

  • Code an arcade game for first and second grade users to play and learn about a specific black American scientist
  • Design original Sprite pixel characters representing their selected black American scientist and his/her contribution(s) within their Arcade Make Code program
  • Present their flowchart arcade game concept to whole class for feedback
  • Select a black American scientist from Science Buddies' "Learn More About these 35 Scientists for Black History Month" post
  • Sketch a flowchart of their arcade game concept using Freeform or Sketchnote tools
  • Use the Notes application to curate research references about their selected black American scientist (i.e., birth, death, scientific contribution, famous quotation)
  • Research their selected scientist using their Safari browser tools (Smithsonian Institute, NASA, Library of Congress, etc.)

Five E's Project Plan

Engage - Using a polling tool such as Google Classroom's question feature, ask students about what they know about Black History Month (BHM) and seek to learn which black American scientists they may know.

Explore - Have students read about Carter Godwin Woodson in the National Museum of African American History & Culture's post "Celebrating Black History Month 2023". Design and share a Freeform board where class responds to specific questions about the origins of BHM.

Explain - Remember "the need to draw inspiration and guidance from the past" helps us work towards a better present ("Celebrating Black Histroy Month 2023"). As middle school students, you have a responsibility to guide and teach younger learners within our greater school community; therefore, you will be tasked to select a black American scientist of personal interest, research him or her, and design an arcade game based on this research. This arcade game will serve as a teaching tool for our first and second grade learners.

Elaborate - The final coded arcade game must present original Sprites representing your black American scientist and his/her scientific endeavor. For example, Dr. Charles Drew developed the blood bank, and you may consider designing a Dr. Drew Sprite with blood bag Sprites for him to collect in a certain amount of time. All final arcade programs will be reviewed first by our class, so that we may improve your initial draft for final publication (e.g., check information cards for spelling errors, review difficulty levels). All arcade games will be presented to parents/guardians and to our first and second grade students.

Evaluation Phases

Completion - response to Google Classroom poll, exit tickets

Formative - Freeform brainstorm, final curated research Notes page, Sprites design, Information cards within arcade project, game flowchart/pitch, review of program to whole class

Summative - presentation to first and second grade students and final arcade program sans bugs

Examples of completed BHM Arcade Games:

All Comments

Posted on October 29, 2023

Very exciting cross-curricular project! I can’t wait to see what they create.

Posted on November 02, 2023

Thanks, Jeremy! I have a few older Twitter posts with their coding fun. I hope to convert into Swift fun, but I'll need to learn more about how in some upcoming Apple EDU sessions.

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