On Saturday, November 22nd, Rob Kissner and Cristina Calabrese of The Digital Arts Experience drove their Mobile STEM Classroom, The DAExpress, to George Washington Elementary school in White Plains, Westchester NY for a mobile Minecraft tournament!
Whether or not you like Minecraft, kids are simply obsessed with it. Often described as an open ended “sandbox” or virtual LEGO world, it allows the user to essentially create anything they can imagine. Some kids create elaborate homes, others medieval castles. Some opt to recreate famous architectural structures. Whether it’s a small wooden hut or The Great Wall of China, it encourages kids to explore, use their imagination and it certainly promotes creative thinking and teamwork.
According to an article written by Margaret Rock in Modern Parent entitled Hey, Parents. What Minecraft Is Doing to Your Kids Is Kind of Surprising:
The mystery of Minecraft’s near-hypnotic effect boils down its flexibility, engagement and community. Like most things, it can be taken to extremes. But overall, kids strategize, plan and connect with one another, learning how to set goals and work together to complete a task.
In accordance with PTA President Laura Reidy, Rob and Cristina hosted students 10 at a time who had signed up for different time slotted rounds and were given the challenge to build their own school using Minecraft’s creative mode. Rob and Cristina chose a winner and 2 runner ups from each round who were then entered in to compete in a final round to battle against all of the other winners!
The final round challenged the students to build the Eiffel Tower in France. Students took their creative energy and resources to not only construct their own twist on the Eiffel Tower, but to also create stunning scenery around the tower.
The winner of the tournament was given a free Minecraft party in The DAExpress at a time of her choosing. All participants left with 3D Printed creepers as well as gift certificates to The DAE!
All in all, the tournament was a huge success. Students were extremely focused, well behaved and driven to do their best. The DAE never hesitates to say yes to a Minecraft tournament because even though Minecraft is a video game, it has strong educational value as well.
Accoding to Minecraft in Education as featured on Minecraftwiki:
Minecraft can have huge educational benefits for children; it can help teach numerous subjects both with and without adult involvement. Learning in Minecraft can be faster than traditional methods of education, as children are often far more motivated, get more practice, and feel that what they are learning is useful.
The DAE believes that because kids can be so focused and engaged in Minecraft, it is the perfect educational tool to supplement learning. For example, The DAE runs a 3D Minecraft Animation class, where students use an advanced 3D Animation software called Blender to model their own original characters. By the final class, students create their own animated shorts with unique storylines that can even be used for a portfolio. View the video below to see an example of student work in our 3D Minecraft Animation class:
The class in itself is a 3D Animation & Modeling class, but we use Minecraft characters for several reasons. For one, Minecraft characters and objects are all block and cube shaped so they are non complex and easy to model in a 3D space. Also, Minecraft is a huge attractor to kids, so learning a complicated 3D Animation software is masked by the fact that they are driven to create something they are interested in.
The DAE also runs a Minecraft Modding & Java class that serves as a Part II class to their Java Coding 101. In the Modding class, kids use their skill in Java, a high-end, industry standard coding language used to create various programs such as Android apps, to create their own modifications to Minecraft. Minecraft in itself is programmed using Java code, so the class allows students to open it up, explore, change things around, experiment and create their own customizations to the game!
Another class The DAE runs that can be related to Minecraft is 3D Printing. While in most 3D Printing classes, kids are encouraged to engineer and model their own original objects, many kids choose to create Minecraft themed models. What’s great about 3D Printing is that the final result is kids get to actually print their models to take home! It starts off with an idea, then transforms into a model, and finishes with physically printing a 3D object. Talk about full circle!
Interested in learning more? View our upcoming January 2015 class schedule here: https://campscui.active.com/orgs/TheDigitalArtsExperience#/selectSessions/630701.