Which colour do you prefer ?
Many schools utilise Spy Quest to provide the basis for extra curricular after school clubs. Polybius Games supply games with original storylines but also encourage schools to create their own games. It is a blank canvas and the hook to introduce bespoke lesson plans to disengaged, disadvantaged and pupils with additional support needs.
Creating your own game encompasses many different attributes as there has to be researchers, script writers, programmers, designers, artists, testers, actors, project managers etc. It is therefor no surprise to see the wide range of subject areas (below) currently being offered by our schools in their after school clubs.
Diversity – Languages
Art – Graphics
Heath and Wellbeing
Spy Quest incorporates unique software that enables us to host a large amount of people all taking part in a game at the same time and in the same place. Pupils are placed in teams with children that they will be in class with at the start of term and a buddy is assigned to help guide them around the school. The system evenly distributes teams so that they start on different missions but they will eventually complete all missions in the game.
Days Out – Museum, Parks and School Trips
Lesson plans and storylines made by the pupils/ teachers will soon be available on Glow. Schools ar encouraged to share their work for the benefit of everyone. Simply use the hashtag SpyQuest.
In March 2013 after attending a Spy Quest course I returned to my school extremely motivated and inspired. I viewed it as an ideal way to engage children in their learning with unlimited educational opportunities. The programme has the potential to cover every experience and outcome set out in the Scottish Curriculum for Excellence framework in an exciting and interesting fashion.
In August 2013, our aim was to start the academic year with a whole school project where the focus was linked to the Health and Wellbeing outcomes set out in the Curriculum for Excellence, known as SHANARRI (safety, health, active, nurtured, achieving, respect, responsibility and inclusion). The Spy Quest programme was an ideal way to kick off this project in order to inspire and engage the children in their learning right from the start of the year. When it came to introducing Spy Quest to the children at my school I wanted to ensure it was as exciting as possible. So we had a whole school assembly where we set up a scenario involving a mysterious briefcase being stealthily dropped in the hall. Contained within this briefcase, was a list of secret missions for the children to complete and a specific SHANARRI area for their class to focus on.
The first task for the children to complete was to play a Spy Quest game based on a stolen cursed diamond. This helped the children to understand the feeling of being a spy. But more importantly, from an educational point of view, this helped the children to realise the importance of reading instructions carefully and fully understanding precisely what it is you are being asked to do. Skills of perseverance and teamwork were other aspects that were developed through this task.
Once the first task was completed the children began work on their own mission linked to the SHANARRI outcome allocated to their class. Each class created their missions and these were all combined to create one Spy Quest game for all the children to play. The theme of the game was linked to the Commonwealth Games with the baton being stolen. The children’s challenge was to complete each mission in order to retrieve the baton.
Whilst creating their game the children were able to learn more about the Common Wealth Games and developed a wide range of other skills. These included improving comprehension skills, understanding ciphers and cracking codes. The children were highly motivated to write missions for an audience, providing them with a real purpose for writing.
After creating the Spy Quest game, the children carried out a digital literacy project based on their SHANARRI area; developing their skills in literacy and ICT. The children were able to transfer the skills they had learned through the Spy Quest games to this new project. The level of enthusiasm and motivation, which started with the Spy Quest games, was continued and further developed throughout this digital literacy project.
By participating in this project every single child in our school was fully involved in a whole school project. Children who previously been considered ‘reluctant writers’ were completely engaged in this task and understood the purpose of writing. Disengaged learners were focused and actually creating their own lesson ideas. Children with behavioural difficulties were excited and asking for extra work to complete. Children who were considered to be of average ability were suddenly eager to succeed resulting in them excelling in lessons. The more able children were being challenged and actively seeking ways to extend themselves further. This programme really did tick all the boxes!
Since playing the Spy Quest Game the children regularly request that it is included as an activity in any new topics that they cover. In one class, after studying Charlie and the Chocolate Factory the children created another Spy Quest Game which they then charged people to play at the Christmas Fayre. They then used the proceeds to help pay for a class trip to visit a chocolate factory. For an end of year Christmas activity the children played a game where they had to complete missions to rescue Santa’s stolen reindeer and in the New Year we are hoping to carry out another whole school project based on different periods in history where the children will use Spy Quest as a stimulus to get them excited and enthusiastic about their topics.
I cannot recommend Spy Quest highly enough. The possibilities are endless and with all the new technological advancements and I am really excited to see where we can take it next. Spy Quest really is a sure fired wired motivate any learner.
Why and how we used Spy Quest
Learning from and with peers is a proven and extremely effective approach to learning and we have been looking for an opportunity to build this approach into our transition activities.
Spy Quest provided an ideal opportunity and was utilised as an enhancement to our current transition programme.
It was hoped that this activity would allay many fears that P7 youngsters regularly express about coming to secondary school such as –
I was hoping that in addition to answering these questions it would allow relationships between the P7 youngsters, the Buddies and staff to be initiated. I was also really keen that our youngsters left on a high and were excited about their return in August.
Organisation and Planning
Prior planning and organisation was essential to the success of this activity.
All 240 P7 pupils were divided into 28 groups of 9 agents. This was done based on the actual tutor groups that they would be placed in on their return in August.
Groups entered the room to the sound of explosions and sight of fire balls lighting up the dark room – Awesome !
All pupils had to be issued with an individual Spy card that had their individual code name and password, these had to be written out in advance and separated into 28 the groups.
Areas of the school had to be identified for the P7 youngsters to get around and included key areas such as the school office, the fuel zone, S1 playground, assembly hall, youth wing and a number of subject areas.
ICT facilities were made available and login passwords generated as each group had to log in to access each of their missions. The overall progress for all the groups was displayed on a leader board in the assembly hall.
Senior buddies were briefed in advance and were issued with the information pack for their groups.
The role of spies was allocated to senior Drama students and venues and props identified.
What did the P7 youngster gain from Spy Quest
Developing communication skills – In order to complete the missions, which included cracking numerical codes, working out the meaning of puzzles, listening to verbal information and linking clues, all the group members had to communicate together and in a respectful manner to achieve their goal.
Quote – “I don’t really speak to people I don’t know but I had to and it was ok”
Team work – The teams were problem solving, identifying strengths within the team, developing trust and getting to know each other.
Quote – “Team work rocks”
Developed listening skills, their visual and special awareness of the building – They explored the layout of the school as a group and saw the set up and layout of rooms.
Quote – “When I was looking for the fortune tellers I worked out how the room numbers work” and “I’ll know my way all round this school”
They enjoyed the opportunity to spend time in groups in a more fun, social atmosphere.
Quote – “I had loads of fun and I didn’t even know anyone in my team before today” and “It was awesome, it was really cool because we were like real spies, the computer work was really fun”
Getting to know their Buddies – They spent the afternoon working with their Buddies with limited supervision from staff.
Quote – “See you in August Marc”
What did the Buddies gain from Spy Quest
The chance to interact and get familiar with P7 youngsters allowed a bond to be created between spy groups and agents.
They answered numerous questions from P7 youngsters, questions they may have been too shy to ask staff.
The invaluable opportunity to further a leadership role as they took their groups around on their own, ensuring that the groups were kept on task, noise levels were minimised, keeping the groups together and working as a team.
Provided an opportunity for pupils to take on a key dramatic role and role play the part of a spy.
They were constantly problem solving and this allowed their confidence as a Buddy to grow.
The Buddies felt they were giving something back.
Spy Quest was a very positive experience as it allowed me to see the groups interact and work together as teams.
The nature of the missions naturally encouraged the participants to be excited, focused and enthusiastic about completing their mission.
They developed social skills, core skills and allayed many fears/ concerns through a fun activity and they really remained oblivious to the fact that actual learning was taking place.
It was interesting to see how focused the teams were on winning and really embraced working together, I watched some of the teams identify strengths and start to support each other.
Developing friendships within their groups was evident and on the first day of term I overheard 2 youngsters say “I remember you, you were on my team”.
The engagement in active learning was very rewarding especially for youngsters who had only met the day before, where in unfamiliar surroundings and completing very unusual tasks.
I was especially pleased to witness the change in the Buddies, who really rose to the challenge. To see their confidence grow as peer educators and develop a real team spirit was especially rewarding.
We finished a very busy visit with an award ceremony which was a real highlight for the youngsters. Primary schools were informed of the winning team and it was a pleasure to include Spy Quest in our end of term newsletter.
Assessment opportunities – Spy Quest also offers facilitators review instructions for teachers and corresponding self assessment review papers for each pupil.
Every mission is carefully constructed to offer a wide range of core skills including –
Pupils can reflect on their performance and learn from the experiences of how others who took part tackled the same problems.
The learning outcomes we hoped to achieve for a transition event were greatly surpassed and we quickly realised that Spy Quest presented a unique opportunity for all pupils to participate in a cross curricular learning experience which could be aligned with the Curriculum for Excellence core skills.
We look forward to developing Spy Quest into the curriculum for all year groups and utilising it to enhance our transition programme for P7 pupils.
Polybius Games have launched a Social Responsibility Commitment to provide their award winning Spy Quest educational game to all Scottish primary and secondary schools. Under the scheme up to 750,000 Scottish pupils will benefit annually by learning core skills in a fun and engaging way.
Schools have till the 9th November 2012 to register their interest at firstname.lastname@example.org. Polybius Games will then invite two teachers from each school to attend a 3 hour local training event. Prior to them attending we will liaise with each school and have their game constructed so that they can ask relevant questions on the day and thereafter start straight away with their new game.
The Spy Quest game was originally launched to entertain children whilst they were on holiday in hotels and resorts worldwide. Whilst the popularity grew in Europe, America and the Middle East we continued developing and trialling the game to be used a context for learning in line with Curriculum for Excellence core skills within primary and secondary schools. We created a game that can offer bespoke games for every class, school, or venue tailored to their individual requirements. Schools can utilise it for outdoor or indoor environments and even change the location of clues up to four times a year.
Spy Quest has now been successfully deployed in a variety of education settings with wide ranging success. Participants have been motivated, developed a wide range of transferable skills and actively participated in the game simulations. Evaluations with thousands of children ranging from P1 to S6 have always been nearly 100% positive. It’s success is founded by combining engaging technology, sound pedagogy and an immersive story, which captures the imagination of children and their teachers.
Through gameplay learners develop knowledge and understating of a variety of curriculum areas. Importantly, learners also develop a range of transferable skills to better equip themselves and prepare for future situations in school, at home and life. They also have great fun.
A White Paper written by Ollie Bray, then Senior Policy Advisor & Consultant for Scottish Government & National Adviser for Emerging Technologies in Learning is available for Head Teachers on request. Mr. Bray is a leading figure in the international arena on the future of computer-based games learning. His work has been recognised and commended with many international awards including.
• 2009 – Microsoft Worldwide Innovative Teachers Forum, Brazil for ICT in the Community.
• 2009 – First Place. Microsoft European Innovative Teachers Forum for ICT in the Community.
• 2009 – UK Microsoft Innovative Teachers Award for Computer Games Based learning
In August 2012, we hosted events for Michael Russell MSP, Cabinet Minister for Education and Life Long Learning, heads of Education Scotland and SQA in order that they could experience the game for themselves. Mr Russell said afterwards “I am sure children that young people will enjoy playing Spy Quest which can help them to learn and develop team-working skills in an engaging way.” We are also working with SQA to have the game endorsed as a learning resource and exploring the potential for award accreditation for 4th, 5th and 6th year pupils.
To ensure that every pupil can have access to the game we have pledged as part of a social responsibility commitment to the Scottish Government to offer the game on an annual basis to every Scottish primary and secondary school for £250.00 (plus VAT). This is a saving of approx. 90% and is to cover the additional expenses of training two teachers from every school on how to operate the game.
SQA have said “Spy Quest can be used by schools to promote learning in a fun and engaging way across a number of subjects and encourage pupils to think creatively to solve problems and complete tasks together.”
At the heart of the Spy Quest philosophy is the ability to use the game to develop a wide range of important transferable skills. In modern society transferable skills are as important as academic qualifications.
The Scottish Education system Curriculum for Excellence – Strategic Vision and Key Principles was published in September 2009 and outlines the aims to help every learner develop skills and attributes for learning, life and work. These are encapsulated in four key areas of successful learners, confident individuals, responsible citizens and effective contributors.
Spy Quest embodies the aims of the Curriculum for Excellence and each game is designed to develop a range of transferable skills, some of which are listed below.
As well as being a fun and engaging learning experience Spy Quest also gives a number of opportunities for learner assessment and celebrating achievement.
Michael Russell MSP, Scottish Cabinet Minister for Education and Life Long Learning
“I am sure children that young people will enjoy playing Spy Quest which can help them to learn and develop team-working skills in an engaging way.”
Scottish Qualifications Authority (SQA)
“Spy Quest can be used by schools to promote learning in a fun and engaging way across a number of subjects and encourage pupils to think creatively to solve problems and complete tasks together.”
Eileen Kennedy DHT St Thomas Aquinas Secondary School, Glasgow
“An excellent resource. Fun, engaging and great value for money”
DHT evaluations, pictures and video interviews with primary and secondary schools pupils can be seen here www.polybiusgames.com/education
Keep up to date with by following us on Twitter @SpyQuest
On first receiving information on ‘Spy Quest’ I was immediately interested in exploring the opportunity that it provided for game-based learning. I was convinced upon reading the design brief, that if it genuinely was an immersive learning experience the student’s primary-secondary transition programme would be enhanced through the inclusion of ‘Spy Quest’ in the learning activities planned for the first week of term. I hoped to use ‘Spy Quest’ as a motivational catalyst to support our new students in building relationships and in exploring their new school. Coming to terms with its layout and design by ‘osmosis’ rather than the traditional guided tour.
As it turned out the game did all of this and more. The range of missions required that the young people deployed their inter-personal skills – communication, team working, negotiation, decision making and also their cross cutting skills in ICT, numeracy and problem solving.
Curriculum for excellence aims to ensure that our young people develop the attributes, knowledge and skills needed for life, learning and work. The first year students were quick to recognise the teambuilding aspect of the game but the review materials provided were invaluable in supporting the students to reflect on the skills used during the game and allowed them to recognise their own personal strengths and those of their team.
Although St Thomas Aquinas RC Secondary School used this with first year students to support their transition to secondary school the scope for using this with other year groups to develop teamwork and analyse core skills is clear to see.
An excellent resource. Fun, engaging and great value for money.
Eileen Kennedy (Depute Head Teacher, St Thomas Aquinas RC Secondary School)
Periods 5 and 6 on a Friday usually seem to be the most anticipated of the week as, to students, they mean freedom. But on the afternoon of 17th August the first year students in St Thomas Aquinas Secondary School were in for a treat. All S1 students took part in a learning activity called the ”Super Spy challenge’ which aimed to help the new pupils develop their core skills not only needed for school but for life. It encouraged them to get to know the people in their team by pulling them together and exercising how well they could work with each other. Some people in the group had strengths which could aid the others’ weaknesses, as they may have a different way of doing things. Each group was led by S3 students, enabling them to get to know one another.
The spy camp challenge began above the water cooler in the social area, with a sign hung above it indicating that a code had to be cracked. This then led the students to go to various different parts of the school to gather envelopes which would help them crack their code. Not only was it a challenge, but it was also a competition and this led to the first years rushing to get to their next destination, cracking all the necessary codes. Adam in 1R1 said, “I enjoyed the afternoon and really got to know where some of the rooms were.”
I spoke to one of our third year students – who were also involved in the project as actors, playing out various roles – who identified himself as ‘Bond, James Bond.’ Clearly he was taking his role very seriously! Two other female aspiring actresses portrayed roles in the science department, one as a crazed scientist and the other as a granny with a convincing Irish accent. A science technician sat in the back of the classroom brewing chemicals to add to the mysterious mood. When the clues had been spoken aloud from the characters, the spies had then at some point managed to get to a computer either located in the library or the IT department to type in a code and then receive information for where there should look next. It was a race against the clock, as they were given a limited amount of time to do so.
In the end, only one group could be pronounced as victorious and the winners were awarded with a glass trophy and certificates. One of the successful winners, Kieran (also in 1R1) said, “It was a great feeling to win. I really hope there will be more things to do like this.” All the students really enjoyed this active learning opportunity and have not stopped talking about it. They can’t wait to help out with the event next year!
Alisa Wylie, S5 student.
Glasgow Life in conjunction with NHSGCC and SWCHCP working in partnership with internal and external organisations such as Sports Development, PlayServices, Club Coach and Volunteer Officers, Active Schools, Education and NHS to create a programme that incorporates a “Whole School Approach” to health and well being for primary aged children in the South West of Glasgow
Our aim is to support Educators by providing opportunities for pupils to discover that learning in health and wellbeing will ensure that they develop the knowledge and understanding, skills, capabilities and attributes which they need for mental, emotional, social and physical wellbeing now and into the future. Learning through health and wellbeing enables children and young people to:
I felt it was important to include technologies as part of our learning outcomes. In a world that is becoming increasingly reliant on technology, young people need to be given the opportunity to learn ICT skills in an interesting, challenging and relevant way. With Spy Quest, young people were given the opportunity to learn, have fun, be challenged and work together, whilst finding their own strengths within a team.
Working with the lower primary age groups – P1, 2, 3 & 4. I considered what learning outcomes I would hope to achieve, I gave the Polybius team a topic “The Olympics” and whilst keeping the theme in mind, they tailored their programme to involve the main outcomes I hoped to achieve;
Children were engaged in the Spy Quest workshops for the start, their imaginations were captured and the Polybius team held their attention throughout the workshop. It was great to watch children as young as 5, concentrate on solving the clues, work as a team encouraging their peers, as well as taking the lead and having the confidence to voice their opinions. The workshops also gave children to opportunity to be trusted to find clues unsupervised that where hidden around the school, This gave them responsibility, whilst showing them key areas in the school eg Janitors office and the first aid room. Further to this the exit strategy used by Polybius allowed the schools to use the programme throughout the school year and compete with other local schools.
I would not only give David and his team, my full recommendation but I would definitely use the programme again and I am currently considering the workshops as part of my Transitional programme for P7 entering S1.
Through evaluation teachers and pupils from all 4 schools, reported that they felt the team were professional, approachable and the programme was a fabulous way to give children the opportunity to work with others and use other aspects of ICT transferring their ICT skills across the curriculum.
Which colour do you prefer ?
Well done to the 160 S1 pupils took part in a live Spy Quest game on Friday. The girls again showed how good they are in the secret world of espionage.