Successful Minecraft Workshop from Game Start at AADL

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Yesterday when I was writing the weekly roundup, I discovered that AADL had added a series of programming workshops with Game Start School on Mondays and Fridays in August. The Monday workshops are based on Minecraft which my daughter loves playing on the iPad and iPod Touch (Minecraft – Pocket Edition). However, she was less successful when she tried the computer version. She had trouble navigating and placing blocks (I know next to nothing about Minecraft, so I couldn’t help her).  Fortunately, we had downloaded a free demo before purchasing the computer version. When I asked her if she wanted to attend yesterday’s Redstone Engineering in Minecraft workshop, her immediate answer was “Yes!” even though I told her it would probably be on the computer version.

The workshop, Redstone Engineering, was held at the training room on the third floor of the Downtown Branch. The elevator at the Downtown Branch is out of commission this summer so you will need to take the stairs (if you or your child needs assistance, ask a staff member for help and they can escort you to the freight elevator).

We arrived almost 20 minutes early and were the first ones there. They were still setting up, so we wandered around the third floor collecting a few codes for the AADL Summer Game for 5 minutes. We returned about 10 minutes before the workshop began and my daughter was able to claim a computer, log in, and start exploring Minecraft. They had the computers setup so that you could log into the library’s Minecraft account or use your own. Since my daughter only had a demo account with restricted capabilities, she used the library’s account to have access to the full features.

The Training Room is not that large (16-20 computers) and does not have extra chairs. After getting my daughter situated, I left the room and took my laptop to a table on the third floor and was able to get a lot of work done while she was at the workshop. Most of the other parents also left the training room. The workshop did reach capacity by 2p and they did turn people away. I am glad that I had planned to arrive early in case it was crowded.

I peeked in on the class a few times and it seemed to be going well. Based on my daughter’s previous struggles with the computer version, I was worried about her keeping up. The workshop was designed for 1st-3rd graders so I figured she would be able to catch up as a 3rd grader (attendees looked to be both older and younger than the recommended age). She seemed to be doing fine as she didn’t look frustrated and her screen seemed to match the other kids. They were utilizing a Hands-Up technique whenever they wanted the kids to pay attention instead of being distracted by working individually.

When I talked to my daughter after the workshop, she said it was a lot of fun and not only did she learn the Redstone Engineering, but that she know understands how to use the computer version and wants me to buy it for her. She is also talking about having a Minecraft themed party for her birthday this year. While Game Start School offers birthday parties at their facility, they are limited to 15 children which is often a challenge for my daughter between classmates, Girl Scout friends, soccer teammates, and neighbors.

Game Start School is holding additional workshops at the Donwtown Branch of AADL on Mondays and Fridays this month. If you missed the Redstone Engineering workshop, it will be repeated on August 18. Game Start School is also holding Minecraft Programming workshops (grades 3-8) on August 11 & 25. On Fridays they will have non-Minecraft programming such as Computer Animation and Artificial Intelligence. We will probably attend at least one more session, and will be sure to arrive early again.

Game Start School also offers classes at their location on Saturdays. The fall session will begin on September 6 and runs through October 11. A second session will begin on October 25 and run through December 6. Unfortunately, with my daughter playing Rec & Ed soccer and having games at variable times, the early fall session probably does not work for us (we don’t have the game schedule yet). Game Start School is located at 505 E. Liberty St, Ann Arbor.

I definitely recommend the Game Start School workshops at Ann Arbor District Library. I recommend arriving about 10 minutes before the workshop begins. I am going to keep my eye out for more in the future. As someone with a minor in computer science, I am thrilled that my daughter is showing an interest in these workshops. They are also a great FREE introduction to the topics that they cover in their classes to determine if your child would be interested in attending a 6 week class.

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Ann Arbor with Kids is your go-to source for Ann Arbor Family Fun. It got its start in an activity list that I was compiling for the playgroup I ran at our church. When my daughter started preschool, the other moms were thrilled to hear about my list. I decided to take the list public in 2009.

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