Saturday, July 16, 2016

2016 Youthspark Microsoft Camp for your Gamer!

My 10-year old son is a gamer. Last year during summer he attended a 3-day Apple Camp and was able to integrate his love of Minecraft into his project. (Read more about that here.)  This year I signed him up for a 4-day Youthspark Microsoft camp. What's really cool is that both of these camps are totally free!

The camp was two hours a day and took place in the back of the Microsoft store in the Fashion Valley Mall.  Julia was the employee in charge of the camp. She informed me that the camp had been running since the store opened, so for six years now.  I could tell right away she had experience in working with kids.
On the first day, she explained the camp rules, i.e. stay in the store, respect the employees, etc...and most of all have FUN!  Each camper received a t-shirt, a set of earphones, and their own booklet. There were about 12 kids in this session.

This was a beginner-level camp aimed at kids ages 8 to 11.  They explored three main Kodu games: Boku's Amazing Race, Flashy Fishbots and Air Delivery.  Each session they analyzed the games, created new edits, and then wrote the code to change the game action. I believe Julia mentioned that these Kodu games could be downloaded at home and there are tutorials to learn how to edit the games.

The campers answered questions in their workbooks to record their ideas and make a plan for the changes to their chosen game. The camp was very structured.  Like any good activity, time was built in for individual work, pair work, team work and breaks! During breaks students could explore the store and demo Microsoft products.

The camp even allotted time for the campers to give and receive feedback from their peers, not once, but multiple times during the four days.I was impressed to see the kids practice the soft skills of critical thinking, collaboration and communication.

My son, who is extremely shy, warmed up to his partners by the second day and even willingly participated in his team's presentation. I was pleasantly surprised!

Microsoft's Youthspark Camp was a very positive experience for my son.  I hope to take advantage of another camp soon! Check out your local Microsoft store for more opportunities like this!

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