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Culpeper Times • November 1-7, 2018
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A.G. Richardson instructional resource teacher Matt Ortman works with third-grader Blake Dunn on his Bloxels program during a meeting of Technology Club recently.
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➤ After school club helps students learn how to make their own video games By Jeff Say Culpeper Times Staff Writer A.G. Richardson Elementary School’s technology club is hoping to make the next Super Mario Bros. The after school club, headed by Instructional Technology Resource Teacher Matt Ortman, is using a program called Bloxels to teach third through fifth graders how to create their own video game character, background and ultimately their own full game. Acquired through a grant by Culpeper County Public Schools offered by Aerojet Rocketdyne, the Bloxels kits - which cost $175 for a box - include eight colored cubes, a 13x13 board and instructions for using an application that connects to the school’s iPads. The rest is up to the imagination of the students. “They use these cubes to build a character, or they build a scene or they can build a component within a scene,” Ortman said. On a recent Tuesday, the club - which meets every other week for 45 minutes was a bustling video game think tank. Kids
shared ideas, helped each other with lining up their characters to have them scanned onto the iPad and giggled at each other’s creations. The students created mermaids, chickens, cats and more and then scanned them into the app on the iPad and were able to customize them some more - using the program to change the color of their characters. Ortman said they can change colors, make animations and more in the 2D format. “What I relate it to the most is Super Mario Bros.,” Ortman said. “All of those components they can do.” The 19-member club started earlier this year after Ortman asked parents what their children would be interested in during a survey. “I tried to get students with familiarity with video games, because they would be coming in with different ideas,” he said. The video game component is what sold it.” While the first few meetings have focused on simply creating characters and backgrounds while they all learn about the program, the end goal is to come together by the end of the school year to develop their own game. “I’m going to have them step back and start to develop a storyline,” Ortman said. “A lot of these groups are coming up with random things, and it doesn’t tie together. ➤ See Video, Page 7
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