By Makenna Taylor-Gonzalez
Minecraft is a unique and ridiculously popular game that lives 100% online. The game is often compared to digital LEGO’s, and at it’s core, allows players to place and break blocks in a 3D world. Now, more than ever, Minecraft is being recognized as an incredibly powerful, educational tool that promotes in-game coding and game design.
With more than 22 million users in 40 countries, the Minecraft craze is growing, especially within education. The game acts as a medium for educators and students, alike, and allows them to unleash their creativity and fully integrate technology with learning. Because the game lives entirely online, kids can take what they’ve learned either, in or out of the classroom, and build their skills over the summer with Summer of Minecraft Camps.
Connected Camps, an online camp for Minecraft, was catalyzed by three girl geeks on a mission to make coding and digital arts accessible and fun for all kids. After a successful pilot in summer 2014, Connected Camps welcomed over 2000 campers to their summer programs in 2015, and is back by popular demand for a third year. The learning approach and design of Connected Camps is backed by research and testing in practice, and is part of the Connected Learning Alliance, dedicated to mobilizing new technology in the service of equity, access and opportunity for all young people. Research has shown that working in an intergenerational community around a shared interest supports kids in leveling up technical and social skills. By connecting kids to both peers and mentors they identify with, Connected Camps uses Minecraft to cultivate and nurture kid’s interest in the game and transform that interest into genuine engagement in STEM. Tara Tiger Brown, co-founder of LA Makerspace and Connected Camps notes, “Minecraft is more than a game, it’s an environment that can teach problem solving, programming and social skills. It’s like LEGOs, in a social, virtual world”.
During their online summer of Minecraft camp, kids can learn all about Minecraft, from the basics of play to coding and architecture, in-game engineering, and game design. There are camps for mixed groups, a variety of knowledge levels and ages (8-15), and even girls-only camps, to empower next-level STEM learning. Connected Camps Summer of Minecraft Camps are entirely virtual, allowing kids from around the country (and even the world) to connect and play with peers in a dedicated and safe Minecraft server. During the summer camps, kids play in a secure, monitored environment where they learn to code, build circuits, and design games while empowering each other and practicing digital citizenship.
Connected Camps develops campers’ Minecraft skills with week-long camps varying from in-game coding to game design. Not only is Minecraft fun, but kids will learn everything from problem solving and design to digital citizenship, collaboration and community organizing. The Summer of Minecraft Camps begin June 27th and end August 5th, with five, one-week sessions. Kids have the option to choose their area of focus, such as: architecture, game design, survival camp, beginning coding, intermediate coding, advanced coding, engineering in Minecraft, and camps for girls. Each one-week camp costs between $49 and $79.
To learn more about Connected Camps and the educational Minecraft craze, visit ConnectedCamps.com.