When Fish Fly: A new kind of Project

I was recently honored to have been part of a team which was selected by fellow innovative educators as the first place finisher for our project ” When Fish Fly”. We are excited to be invited to present this project at the Global Innovative Educator Forum in November in Washington DC.
“When Fish Fly” which is a Kinect Xbox game creation project designed to replicate the sights, sounds, history and “sense of place” of Pike Place Fish Co.in Seattle, Washington. Student design teams incorporate Computer Science, project management, business concepts, and multimedia technologies to create a dynamic motion-based game simulation.

This past July, I was also honored to have been selected to represent the United States at the Global Innovative Educator Forum in Washington dc (See my previous blog post). While we were the the Partners in Learning team initiated an “experiment” called Learning Excursions, which was created to engage and challenge the over 100 educator participants who were there. Educators were organized into collaborative working groups and sent to interesting sites around Seattle. What kind of learning activities might be generated when top-tier educators are paired up with similar subject-matter and grade level peers and sent to explore unique places in a community and asked to come up with engaging, 21st century learning activities that could be used by teachers around the globe? Our team’s destination was Pike Place Market and our first task was to decide what format to present our project. Taking advantage of our core strengths: Computer Science, Digital Media Arts and KinectEd, the logical solution for our project was a game-like simulation. We considered all the local businesses located in Pike Place Market that would lend themselves to a game simulation; the Pike Place Fish Co. was the obvious choice because of its history and its unique “fish toss” that would lend itself to the Kinect and game play. Pike Place Fish Co. captures the essence of the market and Seattle and allowed our team to build a replicable project that can be adapted to any locale. This focus had to meet the requirements of the task while promoting a multi-dimensional, cross- curricular, collaborative environment for the project to be a success. This solution allows for scaling as well as in complexity to accommodate advanced students or larger class sizes.
When Fish Fly is a game creation project designed to replicate the sights, sounds, history and “sense of place” of Pike Place Fish Co. in Seattle while actively engaging the student design team in a technology driven collaborative process. This semester long project allows students to build a simulation for the Xbox Kinect game system focusing on multimedia technology, motion, digital arts, and Computer Science. Students utilize project management and business concepts as they collaboratively research, design, and code a game simulation replicating the experience of Pike Place Fish Co. While our project is based on this location, the concept is intended to be used as a model to be replicated in any city in the world. In addition to game play, there is a heavy educational component to both building the project and playing the completed game; there are numerous links to video clips, sound bites, historical facts and figures and other information, even live web feeds. In our project model, students study the history and economic data of the location while collecting audio and video interviews. In order to simulate the experience as accurately as possible, students also observe, photograph, and record the many types of people interactions, transactions, and activities that occur in the market. The completed project will be driven by dynamic motion-based interaction using the Kinect camera system. Part of the creative challenge and fun of this project is not only determining what motions and kinetic movements to incorporate, but how to implement them.

Our group of 5 (myself, Lou Zulli, Margaret Noble, Johhny Kissko, and Donna Thomas) worked hard and spent many hours as a team collaborating together to put together our project submission, and now that we’ve been selected to attend the Global Forum, we are working equally as hard to prepare for that. For us, the teachers, actually working on this project submission and project design was full of many of the same 21rst Century Skills that our students will experience as they work through the project.

About Doug Bergman

Head of Computer Science at Porter-Gaud School in Charleston, SC
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