UK Pilot: Adventures in Space!


We have been working alongside pupils at Sneinton St Stephens Primary school which is one of the 4 NOLB partner schools in the UK.


Adventure game template: Science topic – Space themed

This is a year 5 (9-10 year old) class working on the half term topic: Space, focussing on science yet linking with several other areas of the curriculum. The pupils have had a previous half term’s introduction to Create@School, navigating the app, building their coding ability, and developing skills improving their confidence in independent learning.

Working alongside the class teacher; Mr Gill, we identified objectives in the medium term plan that could be developed and enhanced through the use of Create@School in this topic:

literacy: using their composition skills developed through the term, pupils have created a written story, they adapted this into a series of sections within a storyboard to link with the separate ‘Levels’ within the adventure game template.

Computing: The ‘storyboarding’ of their written work helped complete a computing objective of creating an interactive story board.

History: the template’s layout is similar to a quiz, so questions reinforcing their knowledge of details about the space race and space ‘firsts’ can be added to the text to be answered correctly to reach the next part of the adventure.

Science: The adventure template has a space theme preprogramed within it and lends itself to this topic which describes the size, order and distances of the planets from the sun, the movement of the Moon relative to the Earth, movement of the earth and other planets relative to the sun in the solar system.

This being the pupils own work, we did not give them a series of objectives to meet, and allowed them to create their own stories – taking charge of their own learning.






Creating the game

Through a constructivist approach, pupils actively tested their ideas within the template, developing both their programming and problem-solving skills. Collaborating with their peers to test ideas they questioned their ideas and strategies.

We found that as the lessons moved on, pupils felt more comfortable trying things out without asking for help, and the teaching staff took the role of encouraging role for the pupils to inquire and solve problems themselves.


What we achieved

By the end of the series of lessons all pupils had created a space adventure based on their literacy work. Some had uploaded their games to the PocketCode website, whilst others had shared their devices to the rest of the class.

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Spain Pilot Úbeda: One More Class! Please!


Key Takeaways:

  • Introducing gaming mechanics for fun will deliver an immersive interactive learning experience to a class where students, especially young students, tend to lose focus as well as interest.
  • A strong use of storytelling and appealing game will create emotional engagements that make students excited about learning.
  • As shown by the Úbeda pilot success, appropriate use of gaming can make otherwise mundane class entertaining and rewarding.

In a classroom of 45 students, we are having our first Create@School tutorial session in one of our pilot school in Spain, SAFA Úbeda. Together with a group of pupils around 14 years old, we embarked our journey to explore the potential of gamified learning.

The Challenge

Pupils are easily distracted and bored from the process of problem solving. Because the process starts from inquiry, investigate a top to use a variety of resources to find solutions and answers. As students explore the topic, they draw conclusions. As they continue exploring, they need to revisit the conclusions that they have drawn before. To explore a question often ends up leading to more questions. The process is usually hard and boring for pupils, which will cost their attention and interest to learn in the end.

Our Angry Bird Mission

In order to avoid the normal mundane learning process, we introduced the mission of disassembling Angry Birds. The mission is expected to deliver a memorable and engaging learning experience about problem solving.

Angry Birds is a well-known mobile game where funny aesthetics, combined with physics based game mechanics, create awesome game dynamics that keep engaged millions of players all around the world. It presents a perfect scenario for Create@School to fit in, as Create@School is an interface development environment (IDE), based on Pocket Code and developed within the No One Left Behind project, which allows pupils to create games and applications by dragging and dropping blocks of functions that can be associated to parts of program called “objects”. One of the functional blocks included into Create@School is the physic model of the gravity field.

The objective of our Angry Bird mission is to provide, to the pupils, the necessary background for them to be able to develop a sandbox game where they could experiment and understand how gravity works and how it is applied to Angry Birds in order to create the behaviours of the birds, rocks, woods, ice, etc.


Design Your Own ¨Angry Bird¨

Following a constructivist approach we posed questions and problems to the pupils:

  • Why the birds follow parabolic trajectories?
  • How these trajectories are created inside the games?
  • Why rocks, woods and ice have different behaviours when birds collide with them?

Obviously, students were instantly intrigued by the fancy idea about cracking the code behind this fancy game, and being able to reproduce a similar one by their own. They were soon immersed in the process of solving problems. We guided and helped them step by step.

We led them into disassembling the Angry Birds game mechanics, inciting problems that can be solved with specific functional block within Create@School IDE. Very soon, they were able to design their own scenario and their own version of ¨Angry Bird¨.

What We Achieved!

By the end of our class, all the students have created their own sandbox game where they tested how gravity works; found the right functions and parameters to recreate the requested behaviour of the elements of the Angry Birds games.

They know how to bounce of birds with gravity and collisions, decompose bird’s trajectory by applying forces on different axis, how to simulate particles of rocks, woods and ice with their mass, use the right friction when a rigid body falls, describe the influence of the shape of the objects on friction and bouncing, and many more to come.

All of them were able to understand, by using variables and random functions, how to create “intelligent” game opponents with stochastic behaviours that is one of the pillar of game design process. Even some students made it to understand through their experiments within their sandbox complex concept physics like moment, rotational speed, forces applied to rotating objects that were not requested and that are not evident into Angry Birds and in a 2D simulated physic space.


Upon the end of the class, all the students felt their time had been flying away and they haven´t had enough. They started to beg their professor, ¨One more session, please! ¨ ¨One more class please! ¨

We had so much fun together! But the most important is how the collaborative and constructive learning process has helped students to engage, to ask, to explore, and to keep the motivation of learning in the days to come!

Shooter Game from Our Austria Pilote School


We started our first Create@School session  at BORG Birkfeld which is one of our three partner schools in Austria.

Shooter Game VS Computer Science Principles

This is class of 18 5th grade students who are studying computer science. One of their course is called the fundamental principles and concepts of computer science with the objective to impart abstraction and logic, practical experience in designing and writing computer programs, as well as the use of variables to students. Sounds dry, abstract and somehow complicated? Not if you turn it into exercise of coding a Shooter Game.

The teacher Ines Vorraber is very motivated in her teaching and is trying to spark the interest of their students by giving them always a creative task to learn. Therefore the students had to create a shooter game as part of their Create@School units. Within these games the user will explore distant galaxies and shoot aliens, planets or other obstacles. The teacher started off the Create@School units by giving an introduction to the app and let the students explore the app further by using tutorial cards and starter games. 

The students were working on their games that fit to the overall topic – the Galaxy Game Jam. The students were  programming in teams of two, drawing storyboards and lining out the game logic. The students separated their work by each one creating one level on their own tablet or smartphone and later merging the games together into one game. The students were drawing their game characters either in Pocket Paint, on a piece of paper or by using a paint tool on the computer. Later all these graphics were imported into Create@School.

Our mission to the moon and distant galaxies

By connecting the curriculum with an exciting topic that fits the student’s interest we could create a memorable and engaging learning experience. During the units the students needed to think about their game, explore the different possibilities, find solutions and answers, rethink their decisions and draw conclusions. This whole learning process helped them to get better skills in problem solving.

The students seemed very engaged in the task because they could create their own characters and bringing their own ideas into life.  While coding the students could use tutorial cards that e.g., contained instructions how to use variables to create a timer or a score display. In addition they could ask the NOLB team for guidance.

The more time the students spent by designing their games the more they wanted to include more functionality and special effects into their games! They did not shy away when some parts were more tricky to solve than others.
The whole game design process followed a constructivist approach. Each time the students hit a new path they needed to think about a solution and a way how they can achieve  this behaviour in Create@School.

The following questions helped the students to think about their games in total:

  • How do you control your character? Do you need control buttons or do you use the inclination sensors of your device?
  • Does the game have a timer or a score implemented?
  • How can you win the game? How does the game end?

The results – what we achieved!

By the end of 10 units à 45 mins all students have created their galaxy themed action games which they then presented to their classmates.

All of them were able to understand how to use variables and random functions which they needed to bring their game ideas to life.

The whole class will submit their games at the #GalaxyGameJam event* that is organized by the University of Technology Graz in cooperation with Samsung Austria.

To have an overview about the created games please have a look at our gallery.