Did you know that you can make a working calculator in Minecraft with redstone?
Torches and repeaters can be combined to create binary signals with redstone circuits. I learned how this works at Minefaire, a gathering of 12,000 Minecraft enthusiasts.
Geeking out with big and little people at Minefaire is like an in-person version of the Minecraft summer camps and Kid Club server we run at Connected Camps. Minefaire and Connected Camps share a common mission—bringing kids, parents, and Minecraft experts together for play, bonding, and learning.
Even full time Minecraft nerds have a tough time keeping up with the latest and greatest. Minefaire makes it easy to explore the whole spectrum of the Minecraft universe for experts and novices alike. Here’s five unique experiences you can have at Minefaire.
1. Connect with Your Kids’ Interests
Minefaire is a perfect place to connect with your kids’ interest in Minecraft. Unlike arts, crafts, and sports that you grew up with, it can be hard to figure out points of connection in Minecraft. Minefaire makes that easy and fun.
Challenge your kid to a build battle on the Battle Stage, where screens are set up for participants. Pick something simple to level the playing field, but add a clever twist. The challenge could be to create the “simplest block animal” and guess each other’s builds. Or if you prefer physical blocks, dig into piles of them in the Lego Building Zone. By the end of the first day the tables were like an old Minecraft world, with big impressive projects and smatterings of smaller, simpler creations.
2. Meet A Hero
YouTubers are the stars of the Minecraft universe, and are just as big as the TV celebs we grew up with. More than 40 YouTubers flocked to Minefaire to present in panels, do meet and greets, and connect with fans. Meeting one of their heroes can inspire kids to create and share. Having a personal connection with an expert is hugely motivating for kids.
3. Be Inspired
Kids and teachers shared their Minecraft creations and accomplishments on the main Diamond Stage and the smaller Inspiration Stage. One of my favorite presentations was the “video game puppetry performance” by EK Theater. High school students from Connecticut hosted a live retelling of Ovid using video game avatars. I also loved seeing students and teachers showing off Minecraft projects like working models of the immune system and the digestive system, and 3D math projects involving angles, symmetry, and logic.
4. Challenge Yourself
On the Education Stage, rows of laptops were set up to run workshops and classes. These ranged from making Minecraft stories to coding in Minecraft. This is where I worked on my redstone calculator along with dozens of other brave souls. A full redstone calculator is a pretty tall order and not every kid learned how to make one. But we all came away with a deeper understanding of redstone, logic, and circuitry.
5. Try Out Cool New Tech
Minefaire also featured an assortment of other games, activities, and vendors—tables of little robots you could program with your phone, plushies, Super League Gaming, Mineplex and more. The most popular demo was virtual reality. Strapped into a harness, you have to run in place to move in the game. Virtual reality is exploding and Minefaire offered a first taste.
Minecraft is About Community
What makes Minecraft such a special kind of game is the community that includes creators of all ages and varieties. Connected Camps and Minefaire have the same goal: building a friendly Minecraft community that brings together kids and grown-ups around playful learning and creation. Whether it is the in-person festival of Minefaire or the online programs of Connected Camps, Minecraft is at its best when it brings people together.
Gregry Livingston is a Connected Camps Camp Director. He works with the counselor team to design and lead Connected Camps programs.