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Here’s why Minecraft matters for Philly public schools

Fundraiser, STEM fair, Minecraft tournament: Public Citizens for Children and Youth is holding its second annual STEMCraft event Oct. 6. Here's how to get involved.

PCCY is using Minecraft to get Philly kids excited about STEM. (Courtesy image)
This is a guest post by Public Citizens for Children and Youth staffer David Kim.

For the vast majority of kids, it’ll be a first.

Their first networked gaming experience.

Their first major fundraising event.

Their first tournament.

It’s STEMCraft, a Minecraft gaming event and STEM fair, a major fundraiser benefitting Philadelphia public schools on Saturday, Oct. 6. The event takes place at the School of the Future, just blocks from the zoo.

And we could use your help.

We are Public Citizens for Children and Youth (PCCY), the leading child advocates for the Philadelphia region, fighting for fair funding for public schools, more high quality pre-K, and greater protections for kids from toxic lead poisoning, among other issues to improve the life chances of children.

Here’s why PCCY is all in on Minecraft

Students are graduating without the skills they’ll need to compete in the future. This is true for other subject areas, but particularly for science, technology, engineering, and mathematics (STEM) fields.

“The fundamentals for students are reading, writing, arithmetic and computer science,” says tech education evangelist Bob Moul. He’s working hard to make sure all students in the district will learn these fundamentals in the future — but we’re not there yet.

The lack of STEM skills isn’t due to lack of interest, but a lack of opportunity. Most kids are eager to partake in the brave new world already defining much of their lives today. But if things don’t change, they’re far more likely to be overshadowed by it than help to build it.

Our main event is all about Minecraft, the gaming phenomenon hailed as a boon to creative play that promotes STEM learning. Kids will compete in or collaborate on Minecraft challenges for fun prizes and special awards. But that’s not all.

While gaming sessions will be rolling all day long, so too will our bigger and better STEM fair, featuring over 20 organizations offering dynamic activities for attendees, including the Franklin Institute, the Philadelphia Zoo and the Academy of Natural Sciences.

We’re also very proud to welcome this year’s special guest: New York Times bestselling author Tracey Baptiste (author of Minecraft: The Crash and The Jumbies series).

Finally, as a perfect illustration of the gap between interest and opportunity, one of the big hits of last year’s event was a drop-in coding workshop, run by Coded by Kids. Due to demand from kids (and parents!), Coded by Kids is back, joined by TechGirlz, offering a total of five coding workshops for those that pre-register.

Register

This year, as the event did last year, STEMCraft will bring high-tech tools to public schools through PCCY’s Turing Tech Grants. Four grants were awarded to area public schools focusing on boosting coding and robotics skills, particularly for girls. (We even awarded one grantee a Shuri Prize, named after the genius inventor sister of the Black Panther.) We hope to double the number of grants this year.

“Groups like PCCY are not only shining a light on the need for greater tech ed in the district but actually making it happen for students,” said Moul, who advised PCCY on its Turing Tech Grants, made possible with the proceeds of last year’s Minecraft event.

Last year’s attendees of STEMCraft had a blast, maybe as much fun as the hundreds of volunteers who led gaming sessions, offered technical assistance and took the time to brighten a kid’s day.

If you have a few hours to spend this Saturday, why not join us at School of the Future? You’ll be supporting a great cause and have a great time doing it.

Know a Minecraft fan or future scientist who would enjoy STEMCraft? As a special thank you to Technical.ly readers, use the discount code TECHPHILLY at checkout for 50 percent percent off the ticket price, while supplies last. Volunteer, guest, or sponsor, we hope to see you at STEMCraft!

Get tickets

For more information, contact us at stemcraft@pccy.org or call 215-563-5848, ext. 40.

Companies: Coded by Kids / TechGirlz

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