Learn about the “father of modern gaming” Jerry Lawson, then learn to code your own video game using Scratch.
game on! | k - 3rd
Imagine if every time you wanted to play a new video game, you had to get an entirely new gaming console. In the early 1970s, before roblox, minecraft and fruit ninja were available for instant download, each video game had its own gaming system. That meant there was one game per gaming console.
Gerald “Jerry” Lawson was a young engineer working to make video games accessible to more consumers. In 1976 his product the Fairchild Channel F ran the first removable gaming card or cartridge, which meant that one console could now play multiple games.
Lawson’s work on the game cartridge revolutionized the way video games were developed and played. Having multiple cartridges meant developers could create multiple games for a single platform and consumers could decide which games they wanted to play without having to invest in an entirely new console.
After working hard to bring the Fairchild Channel F to the market, Lawson eventually moved on. In 1982 he founded one of the earliest Black owned video game companies, VideoSoft, where he explored creating games of his own, some of them even in 3D!
Read or listen to this StoryCorps story about how Jerry Lawson’s innovative spirit inspired his kids to become creative problem solvers.
Watch this video to learn more about Jerry Lawson’s invention journey and see how his work continues to provide opportunities for innovation and invention today.
Jerry Lawson was an electrical engineer who was inspired to become an inventor by another famous Black history maker, George Washington Carver.
Like George Washington Carver, Lawson wanted to improve the world around him. He was a tinkerer who loved exploring new ideas and trying new things and used his passion for electronics and coding to help make video games more accessible. Creating video game cartridges took a lot of trial and error, and there were many unknowns along the way. Would the cartridge be able to withstand multiple uses? What if there was an electric spark, would it damage the card? Would people even want to change their games? Sometimes the process of invention is an adventure all of its own! Lawson and his team undertook all of these challenges and more and were ultimately successful.
What might you invent to improve the world? What might your invention journey look like?
Using Scratch, ScratchJr, or another coding platform, code a video game, story or animation that shares a dream invention, or shares the adventure you might face in bringing your invention to the world.
There are many ways to express your thoughts and reactions to “The Hill We Climb” using maker tools and materials. Here are some ideas:
– A 2D artwork like a drawing, collage, or digital illustration
-A sculpture using household materials or digital 3D modeling
– A poster, lawn sign, or other work to share with your community
– A video or animation
– A song, poem, or podcast
One way to share your ideas inspired by “The Hill We Climb” is to create an animation using Scratch. Check out this video for some tips and pointers.
If a sculpture is more your style, check out these helpful videos to get you started working with cardboard.
When you’ve created your project, email a photo, video, or file to email@example.com. Include the first name and age of the maker along with a description of your project, and your project could be featured on our website and social media!