THE Gideon Education Centre in Buff Bay, Portland was recently selected to pilot the "Pass Your Exam" game developed by Family Games International for students preparing to sit the Grade Six Achievement Test (GSAT).
Chief Executive Officer of Family Games International Karl Downer, last Friday, presented seven of the games to Gideon, which was the top GSAT school in Portland last year and the institution which produced the two government scholarship recipients for the parish.
The game, which is somewhat similar to the popular family game Monopoly, is designed to be played by two to six persons.
"There are four core subjects, namely Mathematics, English Language, Social Studies and Science, and each subject has 100 questions each; a timer for each question and an answer booklet," Downer, said, adding that there are no true and false questions.
"If they get an answer wrong they will have to research and find the answer as they develop research methods from this early age."
The game, which was developed by him, his wife and their four children four years ago, is designed so that students can learn while having fun and interacting with each other.
According to Downer, the game helped two of his children to score 85 and 95 averages in their GSAT examinations.
The game is a competition in itself and helps students to revise what they have learned from grades four, five and six.
Downer said he is trying to get the Ministry of Education to adapt the game as one of the GSAT education manual for school curriculum.
"We recognise that in the Mathematics question on the board (game) a lot of people, children and parents, are unable to process the question," he told the Jamaica Observer North East.
As such, Downer said a math workbook, which will be available this month, has been developed to assist with working out some 100 questions.
There is a song with the similar title "Pass Your Exam", which Downer said was written by his children, and which he plans on twinning with the game in the future.
Downer, who was involved in marketing at Shopper's Fair, Ramson, Nestle after returning from a football scholarship to San Diego, California, left that career to focus on this educational project.
Gideon Education Centre, he said, is being used as a pilot as he was invited by the director Michael Aiken after he saw one of the games being given to a child, on television.
Aiken was pleased with his institution being used as a pilot for the game.
"Family Games International has chosen Gideon as the school for a pilot project to see if the games really are indeed effective in increasing learning," he told the Observer North East.
He added further, "We are going to have a kind of blind study; kids won't just play the game like that, we are going to set up one set of grade six who will be restricted in their playing three times per week, that's it. The other two will play every day and will be able to take home the games to play at home so they will have unlimited access to it."
According to Aiken, there are five pre-exams before the GSAT to help the students to be comfortable on the actual day of the exam.
"We are going to use those pre-GSAT exams to monitor the performance for those who are playing regularly doing better to those who are not playing as regularly and of course therefore we will make adjustments accordingly," he explained.
Aiken said they are hopeful that with the help of the 'Pass Your Exam" game, their students will score in the high nineties in every unit.
Michelle Desguotte, head of the preparatory department at Gideon, also expressed optimism that the game will help the students.
"I am really impressed with the games and the children are liking it," she said, adding that "it will help them to study and do well and be quick thinkers."
Meanwhile, Desguotte waded in on the effects of the GSAT on students, noting that the examination could be given in three phases - one in grade four, another in grade five and the final aspect in grade six, following which the grades would be combined.
She urged parents to help their children in preparing for the examinations and to monitor their progress along the way.