Sonia Sotomayor’s Innovative Game

Adriana Cataño (Remezcla) writes about Puerto Rican Supreme Court Justice Sonia Sotomayor and the development of a game for young English learners—Do I Have a Right? [¿Tengo algún derecho?]—to help promote civics education, awareness, and the possibility of becoming informed and engaged citizens.

When Sonia Sotomayor isn’t serving as the first Latina justice on the Supreme Court or imparting wisdom during talks, she’s helping develop video games to mold the minds of young students. Sotomayor – who sits on the board of iCivics (a nonprofit that promotes civics education) – envisioned a Spanish-language computer game that could make the subject more accessible to English learners. The topic is often difficult for English learners, because the books are dense and written in academic language. In 2011, her idea became a reality with a game titled Do I Have a Right?, which has a Spanish-language version, ¿Tengo Algún Derecho? Since its launch, it’s successfully helped English learners connect with civics material, according to NBC News.

Research shows that knowledge of civics leads to more engaged citizens. This means they’ll be more likely to vote and to understand what their rights are. In Do I Have a Right? players run their own law firms and take on pro-bono cases for clients who believe they have had their rights violated. Each game is about a half an hour long, and doesn’t feel as laborious as reading a chapter of a textbook.

Students have vouched for the game. For 12-year-old Yosviel, who arrived to the United States in March 2016, it allows him to learn about his rights in a fun way. “The games allow me to learn about the rights that I have as a citizen; to me that is important since I am a new immigrant,” he told NBC News. “The games are also very entertaining and much more fun than traditional homework.”

Teachers have similarly seen how this game makes a difference, which is what Sotomayor was shooting for. “Supporting students is a cause very near to my heart,” she said. “We need all young people engaged in the future of our democracy. Initiatives such as this one mark an important step towards ensuring that, no matter what language they speak, all young people have access to the knowledge and skills they need to fully participate in those important conversations.”

[Play the game at iCivics:]

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