Learning Out of the Boxby Virginia Wallace
Students at Our Lady of the Blessed Sacrament School (OLBS) in Depew became living examples of the concepts inherent in STREAM education when they created arcade games while participating in a program called Arcade Academy: Out of the Box, with the goal of raising money for a specific cause.
STREAM stands for Science, Technology, Religion, Engineering the Arts and Mathematics. Arcade Academy is one of several STREAM programs introduced in our Catholic elementary schools this year. The program was inspired by the viral documentary about a nine year old boy named Caine who created an actual arcade at his father's auto parts store constructed of recycled cardboard auto parts boxes. The video, Caine's Arcade; has been viewed over 4 million times on YouTube and has inspired an international movement called Global Cardboard Challenge which had over a million participants last year.
More than 120 students from over 10 schools participated in a program we call Arcade Academy: Out of the Box during the first semester of this school year. The program encourages students' natural tendency to be adventuresome, experimental and imaginative.
Student participants are tasked with raiding their home and school recycle bins for cardboard boxes, egg cartons, bottles, bottle caps, paper towel tubes and other useable items. Participants' families assist by donating fabric, cloth scraps, pillow cases, yarn, balls of every size and army men. The families then scour their house and those of friends for items that might be donated for use as prizes. This usually includes old stuffed animals, stray small toys, cars, plastic jewelry, animals, small action figures or toy give away items. Students are asked not to purchase items but rather use recycled materials as much as possible for prizes.
According to the "Arcade Academy: Out of the Box" teacher manual, "The goal of the program is to create a mini arcade experience to share with others while raising funds for a great cause!" The 4th and 5th grade students from OLBS created 8 arcade games which were exhibited at the X-STREAM Games and Expo held at St. Joseph's Collegiate on December 6, 2014. The arcade games were also displayed at the OLBS Open House and two students were honored by being asked to display their game for more than one thousand attendees of Gala 22:6, formerly the Making a Difference Diner, which is held at the end of January with the goal of raising funds for tuition assistance for Catholic elementary schools.
From all donations received from participants playing the OLBS arcade games, the students were able to raise $34.76 to support their chosen charity, the SPCA in Tonawanda.