Photo of East Greenbush CSD Art Teacher Valerie Gordon

East Greenbush CSD Art Teacher Valerie Gordon is part of the first cohort of teachers to work with Vicarious Visions through our Summer STEM Research Institute.

Since 2014, Questar III’s Summer STEM Research Institute has placed local secondary school STEM teachers in local businesses, colleges/universities and research facilities to get hands-on experience in areas related to the courses they teach – providing their students a more authentic education and better preparing them for the world they will encounter after graduation.

For the first time this year, we’ve partnered with Troy-based video game developer Vicarious Visions to host six teachers who are working with their team on video games currently in development and gain a better understanding of all the disciplines needed to bring a game from conception to release.

Valerie Gordon teaches art at Columbia High School in East Greenbush and she is part of our first cohort of teachers working with Vicarious Visions.

Briefly describe your research to someone without a STEM background.
We are immersed directly into the workings of a video game developer (Vicarious Visions) where we’re attending team meetings for real projects (future video games), shadowing people who are working in the different disciplines within game dev. , and working with each other to discuss what we see and how it can be applied to a future game dev. course in the high school. It is amazing to see this industry in the day-to-day process of how video games are created. It’s amazing to be part of it, see how it all works, ask questions, and share our experiences with one another in order to write meaningful course work.

What made you want to apply for the Summer STEM program?
I was asked and I was instantly intrigued. I went to college with someone who received a BFA in painting and has been working with Vicarious Visions ever since. I’ve always been interested in how fine art can be applied to today’s world of high-tech like animation, programming, graphic design, etc. As a strong advocate for the arts in school, this just adds a ton more fuel to my fire and plenty of ammunition when people ask, “Who needs art?”. Vicarious Visions employees really hold art as the almighty and treat is as the most important part of what they do (beyond the engineering and programming obviously).

How do you see this program impacting your instruction and benefiting your students?
(See my last answer!) Beyond the above, I am really really excited to share my experience of seeing people work in this field and how art directly affects their workday in, day out. I haven’t spent a lot of time yet with the art department directly, but I can’t wait to see them exchange ideas, give one another feedback and generate ideas. I can’t wait to pick their brains about their processes/techniques and hopefully bring some of those back to my room.

What are you most looking forward to through the program, or what has been the most beneficial experience for you so far?
See my last answer! I also really enjoy working with others and collaborating. I believe the arts can be interwoven into ANY discipline. It’s been really great working with another tech teacher, physics, math and two English teachers. We all have different skills and perspectives to put a really interesting spin on this “Hybrid” course. Meeting and learning about game development. directly from the Vicarious Visions employees is incredible too!

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