Pupils create computer games and pick up financial literacy

Ms Tan Swee Leng (right) of the People's Association, chatting with pupils yesterday at the Singapore Science Centre, where the children from Primary 4 to 6 showed the digital games they produced using a simple coding tool called Scratch to create ga
Ms Tan Swee Leng (right) of the People's Association, chatting with pupils yesterday at the Singapore Science Centre, where the children from Primary 4 to 6 showed the digital games they produced using a simple coding tool called Scratch to create games that drive home the point of financial literacy.ST PHOTO: WONG KWAI CHOW

Fancy being given the role of "Minister for Finance" and building a successful country with just $10,000, and a population of a 1,000? That was exactly what players of a computer game created by pupils from Changkat Primary School did yesterday.

People who played the game at a booth at the Singapore Science Centre yesterday were able to drag and drop buildings into a plot of land, make investments, and take loans in order to make the country successful.

It was part of this year's National Primary Games Creation Competition, which, for the first time, gave students the option to use a simple coding tool called Scratch to create games that drive home the point of financial literacy.

This year's theme was "A Community of Savvy Savers" which placed emphasis on financial literacy for schoolchildren to prepare them for later life. The competition was open to pupils in Primary 4 to 6.

WIN-WIN FOR GAME-MAKING

The best way to learn is to design, develop and present. Game-making is something that is engaging, and they learn both financial literacy and simple coding at the same time.

MR ALEX LIM, general manager of Ep-Tec Solutions, on why learning such skills young is useful

This year, 81 teams from 40 schools joined the competition.

Of the 20 finalists, a team from Wellington Primary School, which has been organising the competition for the past 10 years, took the "Overall Champion" award.

The team's one-player game involves the main character Andy, learning how to earn money, spending wisely based on his needs and wants, saving and sharing his wealth with the needy.

Games were judged based on academic value, creativity, "look and feel" and playability and challenge.

Mr Gary Tsu, principal of Wellington Primary School said that the playing field has become more advanced over the years.

Initially, games were made with 2D software, and followed the format of the popular game, Pacman - people chasing dollar signs, while being chased by someone trying to take their money away.

However, today's games are now scenario-based, requiring players to make choices in their spending and earning money by answering questions correctly.

Mr Alex Lim, general manager of Ep-Tec Solutions, a coding and robotics training company, said that while the coding tool, Scratch, is simple, learning such skills young is useful.

"The best way to learn is to design, develop and present," he said. "Game-making is something that is engaging, and they learn both financial literacy and simple coding at the same time."

A version of this article appeared in the print edition of The Straits Times on September 09, 2015, with the headline 'Pupils create computer games and pick up financial literacy'. Print Edition | Subscribe