Fishburne Military School’s STEM Initiative Sparks an Alien Invasion
Crafting a Virtual Environment at Fishburne Military School
Waynesboro, VA – As part of Fishburne Military School’s ongoing STEM (Science, Technology, Engineering and Mathematics) initiative, one technology instructor at the 137-year-old military school is helping Cadets grasp advanced concepts by blasting aliens.
This year SGT Kenneth Glass’ Advanced Technology class has designed and created a “virtual FMS environment” that will serve as the backdrop for an Alien Invasion video game. “As many other teachers can attest, it can be very difficult to keep students interested in technically difficult concepts and to also get them to “buy in” to the application of those concepts. So, I decided to do this through the creation of a video game. This process is on-going, however, we have reached the first milestone which resulted in the creation of a virtual environment,” Glass explained.
In syllabus-speak, the focus of this project has been on helping students gain a better understanding of the concepts and practical application of computer logic, various programming languages, and platforms used for the creation of various types of programs. In real-world terms, the Caissons are mastering 21st-century skills while having a little creative fun.
In order to build their video game environment, students had to learn how computers “think” and process commands. They used that initial understanding as a launching point into writing computer code in several languages. Creating their virtual environment also required that Cadets factor in laws of physics so that virtual items act as they would in the “real world”. The class eventually collaborated to design and built a virtual barracks-like environment within which a character in cadet uniform searches for and destroys invading aliens.
While the project is far from complete, Glass says that he could not be more proud of the giant leaps his students have made so far this year. “I am especially impressed with Cadet Jacob Randall. He was absolutely amazing throughout this process and even served to assist most of his classmates with their portions of the program,” Glass noted. “I look forward to continuing on this path and I am excited to see what the students build by the end of the year.”
Fishburne Military School is the oldest and smallest of all military schools for boys in Virginia. Its college-prep curriculum is built upon the structure of an Army JROTC program. FMS is designated as a JROTC Honor Unit with Distinction and may nominate qualified candidates to the United States Service Academies. Fishburne hosts one of only four Summer JROTC programs in the nation, accredited by US Army Cadet Command.