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CV Starr Students Get Creative with Caine’s Arcade

Caine's Arcade polar bear game

“I had to make it challenging so people can earn candy,” said fourth grader Michael Stein, standing in front of his homemade polar bear arcade game. Students lined up, trying to throw colorful Styrofoam balls into the furry cardboard bear’s mouth. “You have to throw the ball into the bucket. It’s like a stomach." 

The game was part of an exciting day-long event at CV Starr Intermediate School. For the seventh consecutive year, Frank LaMorte, Michelle Marzziotti and Kathryn Marchionno hosted Caine’s Arcade, an event that requires their students to create arcade-style games from recyclable materials found around their homes. Throughout the day, the whole school comes through in timed sessions to play the students’ games.

You could hear the excitement from down the hall. Students laughed and cheered as they wove their way through the classrooms. The games’ creators instructed their peers on how to play each game before the students tested them out, hoping to win candy in the process.

Students took a great deal of pride in their games, which some have been working on since September. Many explained that it took several attempts to get their game to work properly.

“We had some problems,” said Brett Gasparini about the foosball game he built with his dad. “Some problems are still there. There’s an air bubble at the bottom that makes the ball go to the side.”  Other problems, like the games’ flimsy sides, were easier to fix. In the end, Gasparini was proud of his game. “The other kids really like it,” he said with a big smile.

Caine's Arcade foosball game

Brody McLoughlin also worked through some issues with his game, improving it over time with help from his dad.

“I started out with an original idea like this, but then me and my dad started working on it and noticed it didn’t work,” McLoughlin said. “So then we turned it into this, where you have to basically just drop the ball into the tube and try to get it into one of the holes. Each one is worth a different number of points. It was very hard to make it. It took several months.”

Perseverance is just one of the many skills utilized by students in a project like this one. The district’s other Strategic Coherence Plan skills were also at play as students used critical thinking skills to both build and play the games, communication to explain how to play, and adaptability as they made fixes and worked with a constantly changing classroom environment.

It was also a way for students to tap into new strengths.

“This is the shining moment for a lot of these kids,” LaMorte said. “Math might be really challenging for them this year, reading and language arts might be challenging. But for some of them, this engineering and the hands-on designing — this is their day to shine.”

Caine's Arcade game