Engineering in Minecraft

Online Camps Foster Curiosity and Creativity

Isn’t it fun to watch kids figure out something new? At the beach, they might pick up a large shell and hold it up to miraculously hear the sound of the waves inside. Maybe they take a kit with gears and blocks and build a fun contraption. On the computer, they learn new programs and tackle technology with interest (and often, much more easily than I do!). 

At Connected Camps, we foster that curiosity and desire to explore and create, weaving solid educational principles and research into everything we do. In all of our programs, learning happens through play, which goes hand-in-hand with interest- and project-based learning. 

Interest-based Learning

My son loves music. In the school band, he learned to play saxophone and trombone and French horn. He also taught himself to play the drums and ukulele (thank you, YouTube!). His interest drives his desire to learn. This blog from KQED explains that “interest can help us think more clearly, understand more deeply, and remember more accurately.” That’s why Connected Camps offers such a wide range of programs. 

Our programs appeal to all kids who like using technology, whether Minecraft or Roblox or esports titles. We get even more specific, too. Builders can join camps in architecture or engineering. Others may prefer arts camp or game design

As our thought partners at the Connected Learning Alliance point out, youth benefit from “online collaboration in which they are sharing code, art, music, or writing.” It’s good for them to “spend time observing others, messing around with tools and technologies in a low-stakes environment” like a summer camp or weekly club.   

One parent described the benefits of collaborating in our camp this way: “My son enjoyed playing Minecraft with individuals other than his siblings. He said it was fun because he was able to see how other people built their buildings. He also learned about several types of architectural designs of which he did not have previous knowledge. He said he would definitely take the course again.”

Another mom said, “My son absolutely loved this class. It is a great class for kids that really love video games, but need something a little more focused with a purpose. It is a way for him to do something that he enjoys, while learning how to use a PC, and in a productive way.”

Project-based Learning

Kids thrive when they’re learning about something they’re interested in and also when they’re working on projects. Edutopia describes project-based learning as a dynamic approach in which students actively explore real-world problems and challenges and acquire a deeper knowledge. Their experts point out that “Deep learning often happens when learners encounter experiences that challenge them to figure something out, explore new information, and create a product.”

For example, in our Minecraft Modding course, kids learn the basics of modding (customizing games) through group discussions and personal experimentation. As they design, refine, and test run each mod, they add a new level of gameplay to Minecraft.

In the Game Design Camp in Roblox, youth create a game vision document, then produce an adventure game which they playtest and then share with other students. They get a ton of feedback so they can continue to improve as they make new games in the future.

Counselor Support is Key

Through all our different programs types and formats, Connected Camps’ awesome counselors and coaches are the key. They’re enthusiastic about technology and gaming, and they come from top university programs in computer science, game development, economics, sports performance, and design.

Counselor Brandon loves working on projects just like the kids do. He said, “I’ve been coding and developing games for about five years now. I’m currently a student at DePaul University studying computer science. You can always find me working on a new project, whether it’s game development, programming, or even music composition related. Minecraft is such an amazing tool to learn about pretty much anything. I look forward to getting to know the campers and can’t wait to see what awesome things they create!”

YouTube campThe parent of a child who took our YouTube Video Camp in Minecraft said, “Awesome class. Not only did it stretch my kid’s technical skills, but he also did a fair amount of moderated gaming. He learned to take vids of the gaming experiences – which were so much fun to watch with him later. He also learned from his own videos. The instructor managed the kids well and gave them a good mixture of challenging material, technical support and fun.”

Connected Camps builds important concepts like interest-based and project-based learning into the foundation of our programs. Your kids will benefit from this structure while they’re focused on the fun and creativity of the experience.

Note: this blog is part of a series explaining the educational backbone of our programs. Click here to read the first post about “Why Peer Mentorship Matters to Young People,” and click here to read the post on how “Counselors and Coaches Build Connections through Shared Interest.”

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