SCOTCH PLAINS, NJ -- Union Catholic is always looking for ways to stimulate the minds of its students and come up with innovative ways to teach.

In one of the most recent examples of the cutting edge learning and technology at Union Catholic, Ms. Samantha Scutieri’s Engineering: Innovation and Design class, and Mr. TIm Breza’s World Studies Honors class collaborated on a unique project.

“The whole goal was to design and create games to be used as a history review guide for Mr. Breza’s class,’’ ’ said Ms. Scutieri.

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The two classes met several times before coming up with three games called “Headbandz, World War I U-Boat, and Fix Freddy Revolution.’’

Ms. Scutieri said there was a lot of planning and lots of time spent on developing and completing this project. 

“We had two brainstorming sessions where the kids played other games to get a sense for how the games look, how they are packaged, how they were played, and how winners are determined,’’ said Ms. Scutieri. “They also played something called 'Grow a Game’, an engineering design and brainstorming technique where there are several different card categories, you choose one card from each category, and try to think of a way to connect those themes into a game to get the juices going".

“In our second brainstorming session, we gave the kids the chance to try to think of games for the history review,’’ said Ms. Scutieri. “They were asked to think of things like the Industrial Revolution, the French Revolution, and the Russian Revolution, and try to think about games that could be designed around concepts. And then we did a voting technique where students spread out their ideas around the room went around to read the other ideas and if you liked it, you put a sticker on it. The game design ideas with the most stickers are the ones we started working on developing.’’

Once the games were chosen, sub groups we formed.

“Each game had three sub-groups, and each of the sub-groups had an engineering student and a some history students who were in charge of part of the game. One sub-group was in charge of designing and constructing the actual game board and the pieces,’’ said Ms. Scutieri. “Another sub-group was devoted to the packaging, and another sub-group was responsible for the the technical instructions, the rules and procedures.’’

After some building sessions, a feedback day, a day to make adjustments, and a final test, the games were completed.

Mr. Breza said the board games are very helpful to his students and the concept is a great example of how beneficial the blended learning methods are at Union Catholic.

“The cross collaboration between the Engineering class and my World Studies class is what education should be,’’ said Mr. Breza. “The opportunity for this style of blended learning exposed my freshmen to brand new learning methods and a chance to see STEM (Science, Technology, Engineering and Math) in action. It was also extremely helpful for my class because these board games relate to what we are doing in class and will be an excellent study aid when it comes to finals. I am very grateful for the chance to collaborate!’’