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3rd graders learn about video game design
pic videogame 1
Makayla Garland of Lathrop High assists Jace Quitasol, who is a third-grade student at Woodward Elementary School, on the Virtual Realty game during Fridays Game Design Academy workshop. - photo by VINCE REMBULAT / The Bulletin

Most youngsters today are all too familiar with video games.

But to see the process that goes into the design – from a rough sketch on paper, to clay, and to digital – was what third-grade students at Woodward Elementary School had a chance to experience firsthand Friday compliments of Manteca Unified’s Video Game Design and Digital Art Academy program.

Woodward third-grade teacher Dora Micheletos was thrilled that her class was first to learn and take part in activities such as character sketching, sculpting, Virtual Reality demos, and 3D game design.

“They didn’t know what to expect at first,” she said of this first-of-its-kind game design STEM+C located at Lathrop High.

Scott Myers, who is the Business and Technology Department chairman at Lathrop High, led the game design STEM+C – “that’s Science, Technology, Engineering, Math plus Computing,” he said – workshop, with plenty of support coming from Lathrop High officials, students and staff.

He held two sessions for the Woodward youngsters, covering plenty of the Common Core State Standards along the way.

More importantly, students had fun through education.

They learned about doing character sketching of an idea on to paper and sculpting it from there, using clay and other facial anatomy parts on to the bust of a dummy.

“They applied art, physiology, and biology,” said Myers, who learned about developing computer hardware during the dotcom era.

Prior to that, he was a military instructor.

Myers taught computer programming at MUSD and formulated the game design plan that incorporated Digital Art electives – drawing, sculpting, concept art, and 3D modeling using a wide range of software.

The class was an instant hit not to mention the first in the state as college elective. Myers’ program – he described it as a “full art class, a full game design” class – maxed out with 31 students and was also looked at as a model for math electives by at least 10 public and private schools in places such as San Francisco, Rancho Cucamonga, and Fairfield, Myers noted.

Youngsters at Woodward had a sample size of some of the elements involved in video gaming, from storytelling and programming math, to art design and researching history.

“I think they had more fun playing,” said Lathrop High senior Makayla Garland, who was one of several volunteers.

She helped out with virtual reality games that consisted of space travel through the solar system, riding a rollercoaster, and shooting basketballs.

Myers is hoping to bring his program out to the other MUSD elementary school sites.


To contact reporter Vince Rembulat, e-mail