Making an Impact: Richmond Collaborative

For the second year in a row, the Richmond Collaborative partnered with Connected Camps to bring Minecraft to kids in the Richmond, California area. The Collaborative provides high quality learning experiences to kids in a predominantly low-income community where many lack access to computers and the internet.

This summer, 48 kids between the ages of 8 and 15 participate in Minecraft activities for two hours Monday through Friday for four weeks. Since girls are less likely to be exposed to STEM programs, the Collaborative focuses on allowing as many girls as possible to participate. All of the kids participate for free and receive lunch for free.

The kids have two different camps that they can participate in: Kid Camp and Code Camp. Kid Camp includes kids in the 8-12 year old range. The kids work in teams to build magnificent creations, such as an Olympic arena that included a horse race, shopping mall, fireworks event, and compete against each other in games like Capture the Flag. Code Camp includes kids 11-15 years old and requires no coding experience. The kids write basic programs to control the movement of robots, known as turtles.

For both of these camps, the Collaborative incorporates Connected Learning, which envisions a world where all young people have access to participatory, interest-driven learning that connects to educational, civic, and career opportunities.

This year, the Collaborative also brought on teenage counselors, who played side-by-side with campers and provided in-person instruction. In doing so, the counselors helped kids ‘level up’ their Minecraft skills and brainstorm some of the elaborate creations built during the camp. The counselors are paid and also receive some unique work experience for their resumes.

“I think with these counselors we are able to better model some of the ideals of connected learning including learning in mixed-age groups, and pathways for evolving and changing participation through communities of practice.” Jenna Burrell, a director at the Collaborative said. “We envision that this could be a pathway for them as well, they could be great Connected Camps server mods in the future!”

The Richmond Collaborative is supported by the City of Richmond which provided the space and computers, YouthWORKS which provided the counselors, and University of California Berkeley. The Collaborative hopes to continue these types of camps during future summers.

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