Solonko creates “Spot It” inspired game to aid Chinese learning


Photo courtesy of Mykyta Solonko

Spot the character: Solonko’s creation of a “Spot It” inspired game is geared to help novice Chinese students master characters quickly and in large amounts.

Youjin Shon, staff reporter

Having been involved with STEM since his freshman year, Junior Mykyta Solonko used his experience from programming and engineering to successfully remodel the game, “Spot It,” which is a fast-paced matching game. This game serves as an online study resource for GBS Chinese students.

“How I designed it is, I’ve been into programming for a while so, I took advantage of some of the programming languages that I already know and programmed [“Spot It”],” Solonko said. “I have a lot of projects on the side, and I want to keep building upon it, so it was just a new addition.”

December 2017, Chinese Teacher Yvonne Wolf proposed the idea to Michael Sinde, technology and engineering teacher, that the game “Spot It” could be modified to fit Chinese characters to help her students learn the Chinese language in an enjoyable and educational way.  This idea came about when she and her family were introduced to a physical version of “Spot It” during Thanksgiving dinner.

“My mother-in-law gave my kids the ‘Spot It’ game. I thought it was very clever because there are 52 cards and each card has eight symbols [. . .] I went online to see if you can make this for learning Chinese.”

Wondering if “Spot It” could actually be made into an online educational game, Wolf asked Sinde if he could find a student who had the intelligence and capability to make her idea come true.  

“I told her, ‘let me see if I have a student who might be able to tackle the challenge,’” Sinde said. “[Mykyta] is never the one to back away from a challenge, and he is always wanting to try something new and different, so I gave the [assignment] to him. Two days later, he already had a prototype and over the course of a few weeks, he modified and really had a nice project at the end.”

According to Wolf, Solonko carefully listened and completed all her individual requests about “Spot It” and executed it beyond her expectations.

“What I like about this young man is that he didn’t say, ‘Okay here it is,’” Wolf said. “I wrote to him, ‘can you make it turn? How about colors?’ He said, ‘I can do that.’ He’s very professional like a professional programmer. He’s very thorough and he knows what kind of goal I want, but I don’t think either of us was expecting the fun that was to come out this game.”

According to Freshman Jasmine Calito, “Spot It” not only allowed her to study and review for her upcoming tests and quizzes, but it also helped her to better memorize difficult Chinese characters with fun and ease.

“I first used it about a month ago, and when I first used it, I thought it was pretty cool being able to recognize characters for Chinese,” Calito said. “I think it helped me recognize stuff better and now I think I understand the radicals a lot better.”