News from Room 402 / Early November 2011

Game Design: We’ve just about to conclude our fourth game design challenge, which was inspired by restaurants! Some of the games designed over the past two weeks played on running delivery routes, earning tips, “cooking” food, rating restaurants and keeping businesses afloat; all of them incorporated some balance of chance, skill and a mechanic that was related to the restaurant business in some way. We’ll begin the final design challenge on Monday, with four weeks to go in the course. That challenge will ask students to develop a game on a platform of their choice (Minecraft, board games, Little Big Planet, Flash, etc) depending on expertise and interest.

Cartography: After finishing up the 3D globe project several weeks ago, we Skyped with a 7th grade class in New Hampshire who completed a similar project. We followed that with a digital project in participatory mapping, which asks contributors to add a small amount of geographic information to a public map that can be read by anyone – see the Interactive Map of 9/11 Memory at the New York Times for an example. This past week, we experimented with maps as art; projects ranged from emotional maps of the heart to maps of fictional worlds. (James created the Google map in the image above to document the world of Percy Jackson).

Sixteen: We’ve been focusing on the coming-of-age experience in Sixteen for the past two weeks. We examined coming-of-age rituals from cultures around the world, and compared those to MTV’s “My Super Sweet 16” and our own culture’s definition of what it means to be an adult. We’re launching the final project next Wednesday; we’ll be expanding on the Life in a Day project that we experimented with in October, and each student’s final documentary film will aim to reveal what it looks like and feels like to be 16 years old in New York City. To watch the Life in a Day project that we’re modeling this project after, click here: It’s a beautiful film. Finally – we’re looking forward to welcoming a small class from Leicester, England to the iSchool on Monday the 14th! They’ll be visiting with Sixteen for two hours that afternoon.

Design: In the past two weeks, we’ve concluded the health redesign project and worked on a few small challenges (designing apparel from a Trader Joe’s bag + prototyping shoes with Play Doh) before starting in on the final assignment: Identify a need for change at the iSchool, and respond to that problem with a solution that is derived from research, observations, brainstorming, prototyping and testing. Everyone is working in a group on this challenge, but the design problems vary from students needing a safe space to store their belongings to the iSchool community needing a collaborative, comfortable public space in the commons.

And miscellany >> Students in Game Design and Sixteen will be showcasing their work at the end of the trimester during the evening module presentations in December – I’ll send the date and time when I have it. Students in Cartography and Design will present their final work in class at the end of the term. >> I encourage you to click on the photos at right – there are images there from each of my four classes over the past several weeks. >> IdeaPaint just confirmed that they’ll be installing 500 square feet of whiteboard paint throughout the iSchool on November 14 + 15 (details here), and I set up a Donors Choose project to invite friends + family of the iSchool community to make a small contribution toward acquiring whiteboard markers. You can learn more here or find the project at

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