Computer Science Fundamentals

Middle and High School Students Make Video Games and Learn about Artificial Intelligence

Computer Science Academy

While learning the basics of computer programming, a group of middle and high school students recently had an opportunity to develop their own video game or computer animated film. They also delved into the specifics of artificial intelligence, cloud computing, social networking, mobile networking, and big data. The group of seventh- through 12-graders attended the Stonecutter Foundation Computer Science Camp at Gardner-Webb University.

Dr. Mirek Mystkowski, a computer science professor at Gardner-Webb, led the camp along with his former student, Tyler Turner, who graduated from GWU in 2016 and is currently a doctoral student in bioinformatics at the University of North Carolina at Charlotte. Turner hosted a field trip to the Bioinformatics Research Center at UNC Charlotte, where they saw his research and demonstrations on isolating DNA.

The students created their games and animations using Alice, an innovative 3D programming environment. They shared their projects with each other and their families on the last day of camp. Robert Stockham, a 10th-grade student at Pinnacle Classical Academy in Shelby, N.C., developed a video game that featured zombies. While his game didn’t work exactly how he wanted, he liked the challenge of coding and said he also liked Dr. Mystkowski’s lectures on Artificial Intelligence (AI).

Robert’s brother, William, a seventh-grader at Pinnacle, also attended the camp. “I learned what people have to go through to make some of the video games that I like to play,” he observed.

Haley Glenn, a 10th-grader at Crest High School in Shelby, made an animated film about a heroine saving the world. She also enjoyed learning how to write encryption and experimenting with a virtual reality device. “Computers are involved in everything, and knowing this will help me when I’m an architect,” she asserted.

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