Each week, we are introducing you to a winner of the STEM Challenge. Last week, we profiled Brianna Igbnosun, the Scratch High School Winner, and this week we are thrilled to introduce you to Brad Schmitz, the Scratch Middle School winner.
An 8th grader from Glandorf, Ohio, Brad Schmitz is a Boy Scout who sees himself as “more outgoing than most.” His curious nature prompts him to try things that most would never consider and to always push himself. And these skills helped him design the cleverly-addicting Pixel Jet.
Brad first started using Scratch at a summer tech camp three years ago, “and I’ve been toying with it ever since.” The camp introduced him to Scratch and a range of movie, image, and music editing software. More significantly, it gave him the skills to teach himself new tricks and tools. “I keep trying to do new things with them. If it doesn’t work then I try again from a new angle. But once you figure something out, you can keep building on it and growing your projects’ complexity.”
Camp got Brad hooked on game design and he’s been designing ever since. Brad loves the Scratch community and how players can learn from one another. “I love getting to say I’ve made a mark on the world with my own game. It is a great experience to know that other users enjoy your work and that people can use it to make their own. In Scratch, at least 10 people have made remixes of it!”
Given his passion, Brad knew that he wanted to enter the National STEM Video Game Challenge and began work on his game in December, well before the competition began. He spent a lot of time in the brainstorming phase. “I knew I needed a game that would start out so simple that anyone could play but would quickly get more challenging to keep players interested.”
Brad decided to theme his game around aviation and sci-fi because “they’re so cool.” Plus, Brad wanted to design all of the artwork himself and he knew he would do a great job sketching those elements. Perhaps, most impressively, Brad composed and edited all of the music for his game.
Yes, when Brad isn’t designing games, he is also an accomplished musician. He plays six instruments and has been composing his own music since the 6th grade. Brad first experimented with composition when creating music for a game. He did a bit of research into music software and has spent the past two years “teaching myself how different elements fit together and sound together. As I’ve matured, I’ve learned to layer features and experiment in the same way I would when coding.”
So is Brad the next Bach or a budding designer? He hopes to pursue both interests by continuing to teach himself new software programs and experimenting with new tricks. Ultimately, “I hope that when I learn calculus and more physics in school I can use those in my games! I love physics so hopefully I’ll major in physics in college.” And for his next video game? “I’m going to sell my next game to pay for college.”
Brad thinks that the best part of winning has been his ability to inspire other kids. He wants more kids to try game design and coding. “The more I learned, the less ashamed I felt over not always fitting in with athletics. It is so powerful to make something and be able to use it. Looking at all the winners’ games made me so hopeful that people won’t sit on their butt and eat chips but will tinker and make their own fun!”