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Boston teams up with 'Pokemon Go' for summer challenge

Local students will have a say in where to place PokeStops in the city.
Pokemon Go
Gotta catch 'em all. Photo by Niantic

If you thought the rise of fidget spinners meant the end of the "Pokemon Go" craze, think again.

The augmented reality game based on the hit Japanese cartoon is still going strong and is now partnering with the city for a new summer challenge. Boston's Mayor’s Office of New Urban Mechanics and the Mayor's Office of Resilience and Racial Equity, along with Engage Boston and Emerson College's Engagement Lab, are teaming up with Niantic, Inc., the developer behind the app, to get local students out and about this season.

Dubbed Participatory Pokemon Go, the initiative is aimed at area middle school and high school students, encouraging them to explore their neighborhoods to find new places to set up PokeStops, which are designated areas that give players free in-game goodies. From parks and playgrounds to historic buildings, students will be asked to research various local spots and create 60-second videos explaining why the chosen sites deserve to have permanent PokeStops placed there.

The challenge, which runs July 10 through Aug. 18, will culminate in a youth-led selection process that will decide which videos are the winners. According to a description on the event's website, the project will offer students lessons in "civic advocacy, training in media literacy and enrichment through cultural and community exploration."

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Boston is also encouraging other local summer youth groups to get involved with the challenge. The city will award $100 stipends to the first 50 sites that successfully implement the program, which includes five lessons on neighborhood discovery, advocacy and video production. Students from Emerson College will be available to help co-teach the lessons and run video production workshops as well.

Since it doesn't seem like this video game phenomenon will lose steam anytime soon, perhaps the city can convince the folks at Niantic to bring the next big "Pokemon Go" festival to Boston next time around.

 
 
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