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:
Cambridge Community Center Youth Celebrate Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. Day with Donated Tickets to a Screening of "Selma"
Author: Cambridge Community Center youth and youth workers
On January 19, 2015 a small group from Cambridge Community Center went to go see the movie ‘Selma.’ The plot was astonishing, depicting an lesser known battle of the Civil Rights Movement. Some of the scenes displayed gruesome images, and the overall message was clear: it had been a trying and, at times, tragic slog towards achieving equality. Seeing the elderly brutally beaten numerous times left a rancid taste in the mouths of both myself and my peers. ‘Selma’ was not an easy movie to watch, but it did come across as an important one to see.
“‘Selma’ was an inspirational and enlightening movie,” said one of the audience members as he reflected on his viewing experience as we rode home from the theater. Prior to seeing the movie, we’d all had small conversations about what we’d heard, seen, and thought about the movie. Some people had seen the trailer and some people knew very little. With expectations extremely high, the film blew us away in unexpected ways. Mixed emotions flew all over the place as the movie progressed. Tears were shed and giggles were quivered as the movie solemnly progressed. “The movie made me think about how people had suffered for their rights,” said another youth after seeing it.
On the bus ride home, many voices spoke over each other about their feelings. No one was untouched by what they had seen, and the movie had everyone thinking about the current racial climate. It was impossible to not connect the Civil Rights movement of the past with the civil rights violations of today. Was it worth it, what Martin Luther King Jr. and his followers had fought for? Did they succeed in attaining their goals? ‘Selma’ is not a movie to be taken lightly. It’s subject is serious and it’s viewpoint unwavering. For all those who see it, it is will be eye opening and unsettling but essential and unforgettable as it was for us.
-Cambridge Community Center youth and youth workers
This is a Martin Luther King Jr. mural uncovered in our art room last year:
And a poster for the film:
Afterword from Executive Director Corinne Espinoza:
Thanks to a generous donation from area African American business leaders, the Cambridge Community Center was able to take a group of 14 to see Selma on Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. Day. Our group had middle schoolers, high schoolers, a first year college student, their teachers and youth workers. The movie was powerful and difficult to watch. While we know the troubled history of our country, seeing it on the big screen was still startling and elicited reactions ranging the gamut from grief and anger to hope. Led by Kwame Dance, a CCC Board Member and the Director of the Moore Youth Center, we held a debrief with the group afterwards. We went from one word reactions about the movie to making connections between the past and the present. We talked about the future that we want. Our youth talked about racism and inequalities that exist today and discussed what it meant to be a change maker. We ended our talk with a group of youth fired up to talk to the Cambridge City Council about what could be better in our City. Thank you donors, for helping us use art as a tool for social change.
Author: Amelia Joselow, CCC Director of Outreach, Green Program gardening teacher
Fingers crossed, it really is spring out there. No sudden frosts and snow, no more scraping ice off the car windshield. With warmer weather comes the possibility of more outdoor time, but for some it is hard to come out of that couch/computer/TV hibernation. And sadly, the gravitational pull of the couch doesn’t change just because the weather does. It can be hard to get out and get active even if we know it is good for us. But what if it wasn’t just good for us? What if we really needed it?