The Geek Room Hartlepool educational gaming

See our FAQ for even more information.

Some kids enjoy using their brains. They are motivated by finding problems to solve – and set about solving them.

We use gaming to channel that creative energy, and to meet other kids who enjoy a challenge too. And if their love of brain teasers means they ever feel out of place at school, we provide a safe environment for them to explore their potential.

For years we’ve known what we want to achieve: a place for children and young people who enjoy academic challenges, who spend their spare time problem solving, and who love obsessing and learning about – well – anything – would have a safe space to geek out, to challenge themselves while being supported and encouraged, where ‘failure’ isn’t possible because they’re only asked to develop at their own pace and in a way that interests them.

Once upon a time, these kind of people might find like-minded people in the chess club, or playing D&D with science teachers at lunch time… but now there’s a new, out-of-school option…

We believe all children and young people should have a safe space to challenge themselves and grow in confidence. The Geek Room is one of the spaces.

Gaming has incredible potential to benefit young people when it is used by educators to intentionally foster particular skills. Following our past experience of working with autistic young people (which we hope to restart soon), we have put together a new programme of activities based around trading card games and board games.

The Geek Room will:

  • be a safe space to ‘geek out’ about our passions;
  • develop young people’s confidence, problem solving, and strategising;
  • introduce new hobbies using gaming;
  • provide a safe, inclusive, supportive environment for young people who enjoy mental challenges and problem solving;
  • facilitate new friendships amongst like-minded young people;
  • bridge the gap between abstract knowledge and practical application of school curricula;

This will particularly be of interest to children and young people who:

  • Enjoy mental challenges and problem solving, and want to stretch themselves in a safe space;
  • Would benefit from being in a confidence-building and/or social-skills developing environment;
  • Would like to make new friends.

Who is this run by?

This programme is run by Gamers@Hart, having been developed by Peter, a research fellow at the School of Education in the University of Leeds and, once upon a time, a qualified youth worker; Jeni, a trained occupational therapist, who also trained to be a primary school teacher; and Bridie, a qualified teacher who has a range of experience across both key stage 2 and 3.

Will it be Covid Secure?

Yes. The guidelines are continually in flux regarding Covid19, and we always run events after seeking advice from the local authority. Social distancing will be maintained, and the groups will be relatively small. A precise risk assessment will be published when the new guidelines have come into force.

We’re Interested!

You can sign up here. We currently have 2 groups on offer:

  • Gaming For Kids
    • £33 per month
    • Sessions every Monday from 5:30 to 7pm.
    • Every month has a focus on two curriculum areas
    • Play an expansive range of board and card games, based on the tastes and interests of the group
    • Free family membership, worth £13.99 per month (already a member? We’ll ensure you receive a refund so you don’t pay twice!).
    • Aimed at 8-12 year olds
  • Magic: The Gathering
    • £44 per month
    • Includes £30 worth of resources, including a new Standard deck and 4 booster packs
    • Sessions every Sunday morning from 10:30am – 12:30pm
    • Develop a new offline hobby with an international community of players
    • Free family membership, worth £13.99 per month (already a member? We’ll ensure you receive a refund so you don’t pay twice!)
    • Aimed at 10-14 year olds

Not enough? Here’s some more info!

This project is being run by trained teachers and educators. These are far more than a ‘turn up and play’ club (although, we run events like that too). And this definitely isn’t school! We embed pedagogic principles and concepts that are often covered in school, into gaming. These are some of the theories we have built the activities in the The Geek Room on:

1) Reflection in and on action. This develops the skills required to make a conscious effect to evaluate how something has gone, or is currently going, and having the confidence to make changes if something could be better. This is more than just ‘problem solving’ but about intentionally taking multiple perspectives when deciding a course of actions, until taking lots of perspectives into account becomes a habit. Being asked to pause and articulate the possible choices is a first step in developing reflective skills. By having experienced educators in the room to question what’s happening at specific moments, without making the games tedious, our participants will be encouraged to articulate their different choices and the reasons for their decisions.

2) Time for Telling: Learning in school often happens in an unnatural, abstract, and conceptual way. That’s a ‘necessary evil’ of schooling, but learning is significantly more effective if you experience something and then learn about the concepts. Maths, for example, that has myriad practical applications in careers like engineering, science, and business can feel like it has no real benefit which studying algebra or probability in class.

This lack of prior experience makes it more difficult to learn new concepts. The Geek Room gives an opportunity to experience many skills learnt as part of the school curricula. We don’t specifically ‘teach’ probability, for example, the way that pupils encounter it in school. But we use the language of probability when talking about things like constructing a deck of Pokemon cards, and players experience what it’s like if their deck is unbalanced and they’re unlikely to get the cards they need to win. Probability becomes emotive and experiential, increasing the effectiveness of teaching in the class room. A lack of ‘Energy’ in Pokemon, or ‘Land’ in Magic The Gathering is infuriating – it’s also something that can be predicted. Games also often use complex but practical forms of algorithms, algebra, logic, and sequencing – they also introduce practical experience of new vocabulary – all of which are gently related by experienced teachers to school curricula.

3) Transformational Education. Schools are exceptionally good at ‘transmissive’ forms of education – the transmission of knowledge from the curriculum to the student via the teacher. Schools, however, have less space for ‘transformational’ education that also seeks to develop characteristics in students (in fact, it can be quite controversial if schools seek to impart specific values). However coming across new people and new ideas can change our perspectives and our attitudes. Gaming can be competitive, but it’s also supposed to be an enjoyable experience. We have fun only when we cooperate, even in losing. Learning to win and lose in a way that means other people want to play again is a valuable skill. We will also facilitate the development of attitudes of inclusion, leadership, care, and confidence. When combined with reflection in action, we’re also providing opportunities to develop theory of mind (the ability to consider the perspective of other people), by asking questions like “what do you think the player will do next – can you predict how they will react if you play that card?” (which also develops inference skills that are essential for reading comprehension).

4) Peer mentoring. This is about putting young people in positions of responsibility where they are encouraged to support the development of others. More experienced and less experienced participants will be put together, allowing one to help the other. This is proven to develop empathy, leadership skills, confidence, communication skills, and responsibility in other situations too. It also consolidates the young person’s own knowledge and skills – there’s truth in the maxim ‘you don’t know something until you can teach it’. Additionally, it helps to create an atmosphere of inclusion, care and nurturing. Young people are supported into their mentoring role and encouraged to see themselves as enablers and a positive influence.

Then there’s a range of more specific skills we focus onto help to get the most out of gaming, including: maths practice, vocabulary development, strategy, advanced knowledge of sequences…. the list could go on.

Safeguarding

Our safeguarding policies are available here. All staff have been DBS checked and recruited with all appropriate safeguarding measures in place.

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *