College of Education > News and Publications > 2018: 04-06 news > Elementary education majors to host children's arcade at Discovery Space

Elementary education majors to host children's arcade at Discovery Space

Elementary education majors enrolled in CI 497: The Creative Child will host Creative Child at Discovery Space. The event, to be held at Discovery Space on North Atherton Street, kicks off from 11:30 a.m. to 12:30 p.m. Wednesday, April 25. A second session will take place 1:45-2:35 p.m. Thursday, April 26.

UNIVERSITY PARK, Pa. — Education is creative. That's the lesson students in CI 497: The Creative Child learned throughout the semester. Now they will put their own creativity to the test by hosting a children's arcade at a local nonprofit organization.

CI 497 Skee-Ball
Pre-service student teachers in CI 497: The Creative Child prepare a skee-ball machine for Creative Child at Discovery Space, an arcade event the class is hosting for young children at Discovery Space in State College. (Image: Peggy M. Fitzgerald)
Inspired by Caine's Arcade, a homemade arcade created five years ago by a 9-year-old boy in east Los Angeles, Creative Child at Discovery Space is a two-day event that will feature traditional arcade games constructed from cardboard boxes and other recycled materials. The event, to be held at Discovery Space on North Atherton Street, kicks off from 11:30 a.m. to 12:30 p.m. Wednesday, April 25. A second session will take place 1:45-2:35 p.m. Thursday, April 26.

"The purpose of the arcade project is to present another avenue of creativity for children in their classrooms," said Peggy M. Fitzgerald, an instructor of education in the College of Education who teaches the course. "Big box construction encourages the use of imagery, forward planning, and trial and error, among other skills. It is also a lot of fun and an arcade is a place most children understand."

Fifty-three pre-service student teachers across three sections of CI 497 will host a variety of games, including Plinko, Skee-Ball, air hockey and ring toss, among others. Before they started constructing their games, the class watched Caine's story and discussed the educational components the activity has for young children.

"The arcade games use principals of science, such as simple machines, potential and kinetic energy, and force and gravity," Fitzgerald said. "Not only is there a science lesson within this construction, but students also learn about fine and gross motor skills, and community building. There are also the literacy skills that are necessary to read and write the instructions and writing about how the games function, both of which are different than skills you develop from writing a story."

Students also gain firsthand knowledge of the cognitive and skills development that children may experience from building the cardboard games, she said. "Education is experience and the students in the class are experiencing how children learn from these types of creative projects."

Fitzgerald and Michelle Crowl, executive director of Discovery Space, have collaborated on previous projects to give Penn State students a more hands-on experience when working with children. The set-up of Discovery Space makes it the perfect venue for hosting the arcade, Fitzgerald said.

"Discovery Space has such a playful nature for children in learning science. It connects the games children may play at Chuck E. Cheese or other venues directly to science," she said. "The first arcade I did in spring 2017 with pre-service teachers was also held at Discovery Space so it only makes sense to continue that successful partnership."

Creative Child at Discovery Space is open to the public and is intended for children of all ages. Admission to the arcade is free for individuals who are current members of Discovery Space. A $7 per-person admission fee will be charged for those who do not have a membership.

By Jessica Buterbaugh (April 2018)