"When I really began all this, I was really, really lost because I've never done programming at all," Alexander Aguilar told ABC7 News. He aspires to become an automotive engineer someday but his real passion, for now, is video games. For the past five months, he and his fellow Santa Theresa High School senior Santino Santos have been learning how to plan, program, design, and produce a video game.
1,100 San Jose students are participating in a program called "Globaloria" and Wednesday was their day for them to show off their work. The goal is to foster interest in science, technology, engineering, and math at an early age. "I started realizing all the stuff that actually went into it from actually making the design of the game by drawing it first and then having to make adjustments and everything, down to the color, making sure everything's right," Aguilar said.
Globaloria is sponsored by the Silicon Valley Education Foundation, the Worldwide Workshop, and the Alliance for Excellent Education. "This taught me so much, whether it be from the extremely hard, challenging programming to the basic stuff like coloring in the background," Santos said.
A game Shelby Sandoval created helps teach the difference between bacterial infections and viruses. "I'm really proud of my game. I went home and showed my whole family and showed all my friends. I'm really proud of it," she said. While Sandoval is 15, some of the other students are as young as 12 or 13 including a group at San Jose's Christopher School. They make a 2-year commitment as 7th-graders and their video games are just as engaging as the ones made older students.
Globaloria Silicon Valley Director Shubha Tuljapurkar homes that by engaging students at a younger age, they will help to meet the demand for scientists and engineers. "There are four million jobs unfilled and these students are going to be the next generation and the future who will be able to fill those jobs," Tuljapurkar said.
Some of the students at Christopher School have won awards but on top of that, the principal says the students' grade point averages have gone up by one point in a single year.