Road safety is important but remains an untouched topic in our school. Therefore, a group of Grade 10 students calling themselves ‘The Guardians’ decided to produce a computer game to promote and engage younger students about how to travel safely.
After in-class discussions with our students, we found that road safety in China is not taken as seriously as in other countries. We have similar road laws but these laws are not often followed. For example, it is common for cars in China to use bike lanes, the hard shoulder and ignore traffic signals. You almost never see people wearing helmets on motorbikes, using lights at night on bicycles, and you will often see whole families squeezed onto a motorbike whizzing down the road. Pedestrian crossings are a common sight but are very ineffective. Cars and bikes will barge their way through the crossing no matter how many people are in their way and even policeman themselves can be seen driving down the wrong side of the road to take short cuts. More worryingly, road safety is not a hot topic in schools around China. Even for our students, this is the first time they have actually taken a step back and thought about how dangerous the roads actually are here and how we can help make them safer.
There is definitely a lack of road safety culture so we decided that our initiative should be designed to kick start an awareness of road safety and a starting point for a school wide campaign to educate our students, and which may spread to the local community and even into other schools.
Having looked at previous initiatives and brainstormed ways of creating awareness; such as posters, educational workshops, and safety wardens around the school gate, we decided that because this is a first encounter of road safety for our students, our initiative really needs to be something which is engaging and will get the students excited about learning how to be safe on the roads. Playing computer games is hugely popular in China so we toyed with the idea of making our own game. We also did a skills analysis of our students in the class and found that some are capable of producing a computer game and teaching others how to write simple computer programs so we set to work on this idea.
There were 15 students who volunteered for the initiative and we decided it was best to split them into 3 teams. Team 1 - a technical team headed by a technical director (the most experienced student who has made computer games before). Team 2 - an educational research team which would find road safety scenarios and questions which we could put in the game. This was also led by an elected student. Team 3 - a creative director leading a team of people who could design the graphics, ensure the game is both fun and educational, and that the themes in the game are broad and cover a range of road safety issues. This is particularly important as when teachers eventually write a road safety course into the school’s curriculum, students would have some prior knowledge of each area of road safety, as they would have played the game beforehand.
The next few weeks the students worked in their teams putting the game together. We pilot tested the game with some of our primary school students, made changes and produced a final version of the game. We will give the game to our kindergarten, our primary school and middle school, and encourage each section to implement a road safety course using this game as a starting point. We will also promote the game and the competition on the school’s social network which is followed by all students, teachers, many parents, and other schools. It is hoped that – thanks to the student’s hard work, creativity, and enthusiasm that resulted in a good quality initiative which they are very proud of – road safety will become a hot topic not only within our school but also in the local and wider community. I am already in talks with the senior leadership team in our school to implement regular teacher and student-led road safety workshops and inviting guest speakers, such as the local traffic police.