Gaming workshops are the way to boost youth interest in science and technology, encouraging them towards gaming, programming and coding careers.
The NZCER discovered that a pilot project that ran workshops in late 2015 and early 2016 proved a great success to the 426 participants, 336 of whom were under eighteen years old.
The project, funded by the Unlocking Curious Minds fund, was hosted in a number of public libraries in Dunedin, Wellington, Porirua, Nelson and Hutt City.
"Some young people travelled for more than three hours to attend their nearest workshop, and the evaluation shows many of them learned more about being creative and solving problems. This is really pleasing and is exactly what public libraries are for," says Tim Antric, Public Libraries of New Zealand executive director.
The free workshops taught participants how to design their own 2D video game, basic coding, computational thinking and digital game design.
Participants said they had experienced one 'aha' moment during the course, inspiring fresh thinking and awareness of not only computers, but their peers.
The adult population in the workshops was primarily to support the youth in their learning process, with just under one third being primary school teachers. Teachers said the workshops encouraged coding discussion with students and had also been useful for their own professional development.
Gamelab, the company who ran the workshops, has been impressed by the feedback, and will not extend the workshops from a day-long event to one-and-a-half days, and will also tailor them to be more appealing to female, Maori and Pasifika youth. The company will also create support resources for teachers.