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Students Earn Drones During Innovation Week

By Julia DeBald

The second annual Innovation Week kicked off on January 2nd by challenging students to create their own video game. Two female 11th graders, Lexi Ryckman and Jaiden Sims, showed the competition their girl power by receiving the top prize of their own drone. 


 Lexi Ryckman said inspiration for her own game came from playing another video game called Destiny, a story that really takes you to another dimension. Her goal was to create a game with deep history that keeps players involved in the story, just as Destiny does. 

 "My game is about an alien from a distant planet. You are the last of an ancient order created to protect the universe from the Darkness, an ancient evil order whose only goal is to conquer the universe. After the Darkness attacked your base, you were placed in hyper sleep to heal from your injuries. There, you healed for millions of years. You wake up alone, the only survivor. You then make it your mission to drive out the Darkness from the planets they conquered, find allies to help you and recover the powers you lost the day of the attack.In order to progress the story, you have to fight the Darkness out of different areas on different planets. After you accomplish certain tasks to help you drive the Darkness away, you can then move on to different area." 

Her story allows players to feel as though they are getting away from Earth, an aspect that Lexi says she loves about certain video games. "It's cool seeing aliens have the humanity that humans have, it shows us that everyone has humanity."

Other activities that Innovation Week offered were TechRocket courses, which helped students learn how to code. While some of AHCCS's students were intimated by these activities because of their level of difficulty, Lexi rose to the occasion.  

"Some of the courses are long, but aside from that, they weren't that hard. I found them to be quite easy and I learned a lot from them. It allowed you to see a more advanced way of coding by actually writing lines of code. I always had an interest in coding, so learning the basics was awesome."

Lexi has always been captivated by technology and coding, but recently has been exploring other career options and considering a different profession that brings out her additional strengths and interests.

 "Right now, I'm thinking about a career in forensic psychology or forensic science. I will always be interested in coding so if I do end up with a career in technology, it would either be in video game design or film editing."



 Jaiden Sims says she was heavily inspired by the games she herself was playing when designing her own game, which are open world Role Playing Games (RPGs). She finds that since there is so much to do in these games, players get to make their own story while having different experiences rather than being forced to follow one path. Jaiden gave her players the chance to level up by awarding them with experience points (EXPs), gold, or other items for completing quests, finding items, or fighting a fearsome creature. 

"My game is an open world RPG. Players would get to customize their characters to their liking and choose where they want to go, though some areas would be much harder and not the best choice at low levels. The overall world would have mostly forest, with some plains and a few towns dotted around with one or two bigger cities. The overall look of the game would have a lot of characteristics of the middle ages with a few fantasy twists. The forests would be filled with all kinds of animals and monsters that would give EXPs when killed as well as useful items that could be used in crafting."

 Another activity Innovation Week offered besides the TechRocket courses was Scratch. Jaiden shares that while she thinks it would help her understand coding more if she got to do it herself, she sees how it helps some people. 

"Scratch has everything set up for you, you just drag and drop what you want. This method is good for introducing someone to coding, but it does not teach you why the code works or how it works. I personally do not code much, but I still think it is valuable to know how code works and how to fix it."

 Like Lexi, Jaiden loves technology and has even built her own computer! She sees technology more as a hobby but believes it is something more people should learn about since its skillset is becoming the norm in all 21st century jobs. 

"I hope to be an ecologist, someone who studies ecosystems and how everything interacts. I would love to do research in different parts of the world and learn more about how living things interact. This may not be a job in technology, but it does tie in. Technology is used in just about every job and science is no exception. Research can be easily organized using technology. Better studies can be done using technology. So, understanding and playing around with different kinds of technology will help me when looking for a job."


Everyone here at AHCCS is so proud of Lexi and Jaiden! We know that by continuing to discover more about themselves every day, they will go on to find careers they love. For more information about our Technology Curriculum, visit Innovation Academy.