The Source – Week One

Last week, Game Changer Chicago launched The Sourcea five-week transmedia game for 140 high school students emphasizing STEAM learning and urban issues through the story of "Adia", a 17-year-old Chicago girl on a life-changing quest.

Week One of The Source concentrated on engineering, urban planning and sustainability. Students met "Adia", who told them of a mysterious letter from her father, who left when she was 5. Adia's father created a game for her to play, but it's a difficult one. With the help of her friends, Adia built a website where she will communicate with players and distribute the game's challenges.

The Source designers and youth mentors introduced the students to several of the game's key principles: encrypted information, the central game board of "Hexacago", and the STEM (science, technology, engineering and math) learning goals of the entire program.

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On Tuesday, the students played "icebreaker" games and were divided into teams. By going on a scavenger hunt on The University of Chicago campus, players found a hidden message containing instructions for a game. Students then played Crossroads, a connectivity game on a large grid map of Chicago (or "Hexacago"), where the goal was to connect all coordinates to each other using a few simple rules and as few moves as possible.

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Wednesday, students kicked their teamwork into high gear by visiting the Museum of Science and Industry and transforming it into a space for gameplay. They embarked on scavenger hunts and searched for clues, while touring interactive exhibits about sustainability, green energy and farming practices. With lots of time to explore, students created connections and learned to work together.

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Thursday was full of new challenges, as students participated in the complex energy game Power Play. In Power Play, teams had to produce enough power for an energy-intense city while managing costs and carbon emissions. During the afternoon, students competitively built towers using only a deck of cards and a foot of tape, trying to create the tallest and sturdiest structures.

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The overarching theme of Week One's activities was the ability to create systems using limited resources. Students learned that different strategies produced diverse results. Instead of clearly defined right and wrong answers, players discovered and chose from a number of possible paths, using critical thinking to determine the best ways to play. Week Two will emphasize science, reproductive health and solving community problems.

We invite you to follow The Source on social media!

The Source was created as part of the Chicago Summer of Learning by Ci3's Game Changer Chicago Design Lab. Program partners include: Museum of Science and Industry, Digital Youth Network, the Art Institute of Chicago, the Hive Learning Network, Mozilla, Mayor Rahm Emanuel's office and One Chicago.

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