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Why Minecraft is the newest
and coolest teaching tool in school
In School - Student Work
Camps Webinar #1: How to run your own Minecraft Camp
Camps Webinar #2: Setup Minecraft-in-a-box, Useful
Camps Webinar #4: Running a Minecraft Coding Camp
Camps Summer of Minecraft - Week 3 Spotlight
Why Minecraft is the newest and coolest teaching tool
LA Makerspace teaches kids to code, problem-solve, and build
... using Minecraft.
Have you ever heard of Minecraft?
If you haven't, don't worry I had no clue what it
was either until my 14-year-old brother showed it to me.
It's a game that has become really popular in the past few
years, and it looks kind of like Legos coming to life
combined with The Sims.
In the game, you can build worlds, craft shelters, create
tools, and go on missions. It's kind of old school but in a
refreshing way. People love Minecraft for the same reason
they loved The Sims: There aren't many rules, and you don't
have to worry that someone hiding around the next corner
might kill you and steal your ammo (... usually).
Minecraft might seem like just a sweet video game. But
now it's being used as a teaching tool for kids,
Remember when "educational games" involved watching your
pixelated family and livestock perish repeatedly on the
Oregon Trail? Yeah, things have gotten a lot more
sophisticated since then.
Los Angeles Makerspace, a nonprofit dedicated to STEAM
(science, technology, engineering, art, and math), just
proposed a camp that will teach underprivileged kids to
code, problem-solve, and build ... using Minecraft.
They're partnering with Connected Camps, an organization
that offers game-based coding camps, to make it happen.
"These workshops move students beyond coding
syntax and get them learning how [to] code
robust, unique programs to solve complex problems," Tara
Tiger Brown from LA Makerspace told Boing Boing.
That's right: Kids are learning to code programs and
solving complex problems in elementary school. Is anyone
else wishing they'd actually made progress on their New
Year's resolution to complete Codecademy?
LA Makerspace wants young coders to rediscover the fun
and adventure in learning, so they're using games that kids
It's part of a bigger trend you've probably noticed
lately: "gamification," which occurs when things like work,
school, and exercise are turned into games. That's why some
businesses are starting video game competitions. It's why my
family does a weekly Fitbit challenge. And it's also behind
some schools' decisions to put iPads and game apps in
It's important to bring the fun back into learning
because much of that gets lost in schools that are required
to focus largely on standardized testing.
Anyway, back to the Minecraft coding camps.
To sweeten the deal even further, the organizers plan to
bring high school and college students in as mentors for the
kids, fighting back against youth unemployment in L.A.
The mentorship part of the program is important; studies
have shown that having an older mentor they can trust could
help keep kids out of trouble and in school.
The opportunity to learn how to code as a kid could be
According to Code.org, there will be 1.4 million open
computer science jobs by 2020, but less than 1% of
accelerated high school students are enrolled in computer
Students of color make up less than one-tenth of that 1%
of students, so it's extra important for LA Makerspace and
Connected Camps to launch this camp in underserved
communities. Right now, about a quarter of their existing
workshops are offered in places where half the families live
below the poverty line.
Programs that teach underprivileged kids how to code
might even be a great way to fix the diversity problem in
This new project isn't a done deal yet, though. It's
currently in the running for a competition to win $100,000,
and they've made it to the top 10. They'll find out if they
win by early December.
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