NTA expresses creativity through video games

Project to reinforce algebra math skills


Sam St. Clair

Senior Rahma Farah works on a math project where students created their own video game in her fifth hour NTA class Nov. 9.

Yonit Krebs

Working on improvements to his video game, senior Non-Traditional Academy student Abdiwahab Ali thinks the project improves basic coding knowledge.

“I think (working on the video game) gives you really good coding skills, I mean I know a little bit of JavaScript, but this is kind of different,” Ali said. “I guess you can get basic knowledge, this does that, it’s just like another language.”

NTA math teacher Elizabeth Huesing said she was inspired by a conference on video game design that she attended last year to begin this project.

“We’ve been looking at a few algebra topics, but then actually doing some coding that uses those skills,” Huesing said. “The educational benefit, I would say it reinforces the math skills that they are using, that they see some applications of it in the video game.”

Ali said the process of making a video game is simple.

“You go on the computer, you find a background, find your target, find your danger, and that is about it,” Ali said.

According to Huesing, the game design promotes creativity along with exercising math skills involved in creating the game.

“It has been pretty cool, they’ve been able to choose their own theme for the game, like some where a jungle themed game and another student is doing a race car themed game,” Huesing said. “Within the game they have a player, a target that can get game points and a danger that they want to avoid because they lose points if they hit it.”

Huesing said the way NTA is structured allows for more time and flexibility to add creative projects to the curriculum.

“For math skills, in the spring, we do a huge financial unit where we talk about some traditional topics, but we see where they apply to the financial world,” Huesing said. “We also last year did a huge gaming unit where we analyzed games and talked about probability and statistics, but we were able to look at a variety of different games and saw the role that probability played in these.”

Ali said one of NTA’s benefits is that it offers students within the program the opportunity to learn about topics not commonly covered in traditional classes.

“For Social Studies we are learning about stuff that you wouldn’t typically learn in a Social Studies class, history that is otherwise compromised,” Ali said. “Right now we are doing African Kingdoms and I feel like we have never done African Kingdoms in any other class.”