Minecraft Campers Combat Diseases, Solve Problems. Why It Matters.
Online Camp Caves For All Ages To Hand A Key To The Computer Into Their Careers
By MindShift Experts
After spending weeks building cubes and models for Minecraft–software that lets kids create their own virtual worlds–the 256 kids from low-income families at the Aids Ministries Minecraft Camp were sent to Philadelphia this past weekend. They went to the Ideaconsortium National Reprogramming Camp, a free, two-week training and coaching program to create digital programming to fight disease and poverty–whether it’s a battle for property rights for renters or infectious disease prevention.
This piece was originally published on Vice.com
Out of this one week, the kids’ skills and knowledge have grown exponentially. MindShift think these camps are crucial.
“Our experience shows that Minecraft is an accessible tool that allows children and parents to think critically about difficult subjects, solve complex problems, build social and environmental systems, and use technological tools to help address human suffering in the real world,” MindShift CEO Mark Huelsman said.
In fact, because Minecraft does not have any educational requirements–perhaps the free nature of the game allows more kids to learn–and has been mainstream in the past few years, people have asked where this game fits in with traditional educational frameworks.
Huelsman believes that Minecraft, combined with a knowledge of all the coding languages used in games, enables kids to embrace gaming, which isn’t just another name for popular on-screen graphics but a platform, like iOS or Android, that can be used to build systems.
“Families don’t have to take out loans to buy computers and training in computer science,” Huelsman said. “All of those coding and programming languages exist in mobile games and Minecraft games.”
Though Minecraft is a public game that anyone can play, MindShift’s camp had a specific goal in mind: to help create skilled and independent developers that will spur innovation and entrepreneurship, thus creating a better future for disadvantaged youth in the future.
Each day of the camp taught kids one or two coding languages and one or two design languages–such as design language used for Minecraft and storytelling. Then, they’d play Minecraft for a few hours. No general lessons in computer science, just learning to build worlds and solve problems that inspire them to continue playing. After the week, the Minecraft campers would meet with their IBM coach and go on to San Diego to design or develop a software.
“Technology can be an enormous force for social change. Our goal is to create an industry of creators that develop apps and products that can be used to address the problems we face,” Huelsman said.