Welcome to Flathead Tech4Good!

Flathead Tech4Good is a community outreach and professional development initiative at Salish Kootenai College (SKC) in Pablo, Montana. Our vision is to build a community where each student is empowered to pursue their educational and professional goals.

Fall Game Jam Recap 

Over the weekend of Nov. 3-5, Flathead Tech4Good hosted its Fall Game Jam at Salish Kootenai College, the first of three weekend-long events that make up their annual Gaming the Future program.

The goal of the project is to bring area high-schoolers, SKC students, and community volunteers together to tackle issues related to the year’s challenge theme. The theme for the 2017-2018 academic year is, “Water is Life!”.

The program is primarily coordinated with community partners at Native Teaching Aids, but would not be possible without the generous participation of local experts located on and around the Flathead Reservation.

        

Friday night was focused on educating participants on challenges unique to the Flathead Watershed. Guest presenters included Mike Durglo of the Confederated Salish Kootenai Tribal Preservation Department, Jim Elser and Phil Matson of the Flathead Lake Biological Station, Constanza von der Pahlen of the Flathead Lakers, and Deb Fassnacht and Natalie Stockmann of the Watershed Education Network.

Students learned about and storyboarded water-related challenges facing the Flathead Watershed, including the threat of aquatic invasive species like Zebra Mussels, and the damage species like the Lake Trout and Mysis Shrimp have had on the ecosystem of Flathead Lake. Other issues addressed included the threat oil train derailments pose to the Middle Fork of the Flathead River, and how destruction of riparian habitats has exacerbated pollution due to agricultural development.

                      

Students discussed the ways these issues can be highlighted through community education, technology, and research. It was a long night, but the students hung in there and absorbed as much information as possible.

By the end of the Friday night, it was time to shift gears. Rebecca and Brandon Goff, of Native Teaching Aids, helped us prepare to create something amazing to address a specific water-related challenge. As a group, we decided to design a game that would bring attention to and help educate the public about one of the challenges we heard about, and ways that the problem is being addressed.

On Saturday, games were played and discussion was focused on basic mechanics and styles of game design. To divide and conquer, two groups were formed and the students involved successfully created two prototype games, “Mussel Hustle” and “Water Warriors” to present back to the local experts on Sunday morning.

On Sunday, the students presented each of their prototypes and received invaluable feedback from the local experts who returned to see where the kids took the project. The room was then broken into two groups. Each game was playtested by students and volunteers who contributed to notes, constructive criticism and changes as the project is refined over the course of the year.

The Winter Game Jam will focus on design, materials for publication and next steps. It takes place the weekend of February 9th at Salish Kootenai College.