Author: Connie Cann, CCC Development Associate and 1st-2nd Grade Group Leader
Minecraft Sign designed and constructed by Akhi Mosley (4th grade).
If you have children, or internet access, you’ve probably heard of the popular open-world game Minecraft. On the surface, it looks like a digital game of Legos, with pixelated graphics and blocky monsters. However, the actual complexity and possibilities of Minecraft are astounding. To start, each new world in Minecraft is unique and vast, the maximum world size being around 9.3 million times the surface area of the Earth. It provides users a simple interface for exploration, creation, and survival.
MinecraftEdu is a version of Minecraft adapted by teachers and programmers to create compelling educational experiences. All around the globe Minecraft is being used in classrooms. Teachers everywhere, myself included, can access worlds built by other educators: worlds focusing on topics like environmental issues, city planning, and history. One map I’ve used in my workshops, the World of Humanities (WoH), was designed by a teacher in Kuwait to simulate exploration of ancient civilizations. Inspired by role-playing game World of Warcraft, students can collaborate in WoH to solve puzzles in Ancient Egypt, find their way to the top of Mount Everest, or explore the Roman Colosseum.
At CCC, we use MinecraftEdu to educate youth through a platform they are already excited about. In each workshop, the kids have their own home world, where they can create new identities, selecting their own gender and appearance, and pick a new name, which other kids will use when chatting to each other within MinecraftEdu. Our youth live in homes of their own creation designed from the ground up, placing every block of wood and glass by hand. They befriend animals like horses and wolves, train them, and use them in their exploration of our worlds. They farm their own food, fish, hunt, explore, and protect their classmates.
Kiyomi Starling (2nd Grade) and I fishing outside of our town.
Most recently, we have been using the versatile building tools in MinecraftEdu to create pixel art. Children find their images and recreate them using grids and coordinates. In this video, Rashard Mosley (3rd Grade) uses a grid to create a Minion.
Connie leads two MinecraftEdu workshops per week, one for first and second graders, and one for 3rd-8th graders.
More about MinecraftEdu:
The Wonderful World of Humanities:
Author: Amelia Joselow, Director of Marketing and Outreach, Green Program Director, Cambridge Winter Farmers Market co-manager.
It is hard to imagine, but it is time to start thinking about summer programs. Families prepare early to get their children into the right program for them, and summer programs prepare early to make sure they have the very best to offer youth. But what's the rush all about? Why does it matter?
1. Summer programs keep children's minds active over the summer months, to avoid the "brain dump" that can occur when a child leaves school. With a general enrichment summer program, youth return to school in the fall ready to continue learning; not start over.
2. Summer programs keep kids active! We live an an increasingly screen-centered world- televisions, computers, tablets, phones- but children need to move around to stay healthy! Summer programs usually offer outdoor time, sports, swimming, and more physical activities. Summer is not a time to be a couch potato; it is a time to get out in the sun and have some fun!
3. Summer programs build confidence and a positive attitude. "Ninety-six percent of campers say that 'camp helped me make new friends,' and 92 percent say, 'Camp helped me feel good about myself.' Seventy percent of camp parents say, 'My child gained self-confidence at camp' " (ACA, 2005). When children are a part of a group, a team, a program, they grow individually and together, an invaluable social and developmental experience.
4. Summer programs allow youth to explore new interests. Unlike the classroom, most summer camps allow youth to choose which activities they'd like to participate in. This choice and responsibility engages children and allows them to learn and enjoy something new or delve deeper into something they are already passionate about.
5. Summer programs serve families too. A day camp is not just a great place for a child to spend their days, it is a viable option for parents who need a flexible schedule to accommodate their work. While it works for some families to send their children to a sleep-away camp, for many children and parents that is not the right choice. Day programs keep children close to home and allow parents to communicate as often as they like with group leaders, directors, and staff to ensure that the children are receiving the very best.
Cowemoki Summer Enrichment Program, the K-8 summer program at the Cambridge Community Center, is proud to be a part of this tradition and to offer these important aspects to the community. Find out more about our program here. And get ready for summer! It will be here (hopefully) sooner than you think!