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Arizona developers present games for Education Hackathon

Above: Justin McCandless explains his game, Mathpx, to Education Hackathon judge Mario Vassaux.

Local developers demonstrated the educational potential of games May 16 at a Game CoLab Education Hackathon pitch event.

The hackathon began April 22 and asked participants to create an educational game over the course of about three weeks and then present it to a panel of judges.

Four judges evaluated the eight games on four factors: fun, creativity, marketability and assessment. The winning game would be fun, feature original design, have a marketable concept and be able to measure a student’s progress and achievement.

Game CoLab partnered with Pearson to host the event and provided $600 in prizes divided among the top three finishers, with $300, $200 and $100 going to first, second and third place, respectively.

Justin McCandless won first place for his game, Mathpx, a learning game built in HTML5 that teaches students addition and subtraction through number visualization. A traditional math problem appears at the top of the screen while pixel balls are shown on the lower half, allowing students to manipulate problems and picture the math as they go.

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Mind games: Researcher to kick off education hackathon

The world needs more games like Age of Empires. The series not only required strategic thinking, it taught an entire generation of gamers about medieval history through an engaging story mode. And it did so without the player even noticing.

Kristen DiCerbo
Kristen DiCerbo

Kristen DiCerbo, a Pearson research scientist and member of gaming education organization GlassLab, thinks games can be an excellent learning tool. The key to a successful educational game, she said in an interview with Arizona Gamer, is its ability to both teach as well as assess student work.

She’ll try to impart that idea to local game developers Tuesday, April 22, at a kick-off event for the Game CoLab Education Hackathon. The challenge gives participants three weeks to create an educational game that will be judged on its capacity to teach, assess and engage its players.

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