GLASGOW, Ky. (AP) — Emma Bunch and Brendan Wilson smiled at a computer screen as they played a game Wednesday afternoon in the Glasgow Middle School library — but this game was unique in that Bunch, an eighth-grader, coded it last semester.

The game is called "Money Makers," Bunch said. "You basically press these two buttons on the circuit board to make more money.

"You press the button and it goes up each time, and you have to get to $5,000 to win."

Bunch used elements of the Javascript programming language to create this game, and instead of using the computer's keyboard for input, they were using an Arduino Circuit Playground Classic — which is basically a micro-computer, said David Vance, GMS computer science instructor.

"So you can write software on the computer itself and then send to that," Vance said. "This simulates programming an actual video game on a system or programming an app for a phone — and a lot of these apps you can actually send to a phone — you may lose some functionality, but you have all the same sensors that you would have on your cell phone.

"The accelerometer mirrors when you turn your cell phone sideways — it knows that you've turned (it) sideways, and adjusts the image for you. There's a toggle switch on there that mimics your silent button — and, in each case, they can write code that responds to not just whether the button has been pushed, but also whether it's been released or how long it's been pushed — so the possibilities are really endless."

Bunch said she enjoyed the process of making this game and "then having a final project at the end that you can actually play," adding that the most-challenging part was making sure that all the coding worked together perfectly.

Wilson, who is also an eighth-grader, said it's really fun to play a game that his classmate created, and that he programmed a similar game called "Recharge Race."

"You have to race your opponent to charge your battery faster by clicking buttons," he said adding that coding with the circuit boards gives them a lot more options. "There's LEDs and sensors. With a regular keyboard you don't have those."

Wilson said he really enjoyed taking coding courses at GMS because he's able to be creative and make his own games and programs.

"It's really fun to problem-solve," he said.

GMS eighth-grader Whit Muhlenkamp created a game similar to "Bop It," the handheld game that has players respond to commands.

"There's two different buttons and there's a switch," Muhlenkamp said. "And you just do what it says to do on the screen."

GMS eighth-grader John Paul said he created a game where "you take a bunch of (musical) notes and organize them into an array, and then every time you push one of these buttons, it generates a random number that corresponds to the array — and then it takes one of the notes and plays it."

The students and their classmates also created programs that simulate devices such as a baby monitor, car alarm, as well as other programs that respond to sound, room temperature and the tilt of the circuit board.

All four of these students said they plan on taking coding courses in high school.

Wilson said he eventually wants to create a program that can store data "in a more efficient way," which could be used to track an athlete's personal stats during a game, "like if you wanted to add it up for later use."

Bunch said taking a coding course "definitely provides a lot of educational opportunities and career opportunities for like web designers, app designers — that kind of thing — and it's a great opportunity to enhance more of your learning skills that could help in other classes."

Wilson added that taking a coding course also "helps you collaborate with other people."

Vance said many of the programs the students created made them use knowledge from other subjects and courses.

"There is no button that says, 'Play "Silent Night",'" Vance said. "They have to know the song, know the notes and program each individual note, and a lot of what we've been doing is learning how to work with arrays, which is a special kind of variable — so there's a whole list of data, and they know how to pull from those lists of data.

"Their abilities have really leapfrogged my expectations. It's fantastic."

Vance said he really likes that his students are not "just going through lessons and learning things, but they're creating original content — and you never know what you're going to get when you unleash a middle school student to just use their imagination."

Muhlenkamp said he hopes to create a larger game in the future.

In addition to creating something like that, Paul said he'd eventually like to code a program "that could help doctors simulate medicine and its reactions."

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Information from: Glasgow Daily Times, http://www.glasgowdailytimes.com