IT Interns Produce New-Planet Adventures to Teach Math and Science

IT Summer Interns Yusuf Said, Sam Curry, and Donald Hutchinson of Walnut Hills High School

IT Summer Interns Yusuf Said, Sam Curry, and Donald Hutchinson of Walnut Hills High School

By: Kelsey Niehauser
Date: 8/17/15

Area high school students spent their summer developing a virtual empire steeped in a video game to creatively teach math and science to children, thanks to University of Cincinnati (UC) internships. Yusuf Said, Sam Curry, and Donald Hutchinson from Walnut Hills High School and Ganda Kane, a University of Cincinnati Scholars Academy member and Rob Richardson Jr. Scholar from Hughes High School were tasked with the project through UC’s Information Technology Solution Center (ITSC).

All of the students previously participated in an IT Essentials class at UC which is part of the IT Summer Camp, Design Based Information Technology Learning Experience (DITLE). The camp is a 1.2 million dollar grant project funded by the National Science Foundation for 3 years. Students attending DITLE learn valuable skills in the field of IT while still in high school. They also have the ability to earn college credit and have the ability to intern in the field.

Because of DITLE, the students had some previous experience with basic programming, but the particular program they utilized for their internship, Unity, is completely different. Dr. Hazem Said, director of the School of Information Technology in the College of Education, Criminal Justice, and Human Services (CECH), purposely set them up in a room together and left them alone to figure it out. UC students assisted as the high schoolers worked their way into the new program.

According to Yusuf Said, the experience was “starting at level zero and trying to find level one.”

A game in itself, the students found their way through the program and, by the end of the first week, had developed clear game concepts for the “Legend of Zaron.” They laid the groundwork for some very detailed graphics.

The game takes place on a distant planet ruled by the Zaronic Empire, where everyone is a genius, but dying off. An evil dictator, Draken Riddle, desires to be the only genius in the world and it is up to the superhero of the game, customizable to the player, to save the planet. Throughout the mountainous and woodsy terrain of the game, the player is met by math and science riddles to solve in order to finish. The game has dialog, two levels, and impressive graphics. When tweaked, the goal is to publish “Zarconic Empire” online for gamers around the world.

For more information about internships and summer camps with UC’s ITSC, contact Rebekah Michael at michaerm@ucmail.uc.edu or 513-556-1701. For more information on the UC Scholars Academy, contact Kathie Maynard, director of partnership and outreach in the College of Education, Criminal Justice, & Human Services, at kathie.maynard@uc.edu or 513-675-3536.