Youth Digital® Named Winner of the Parents’ Choice® Gold Award for the Second Year in a Row and 12 year old Student Wins 2016 STEM Video Game Challenge

Youth Digital® Named Winner of the Parents’ Choice® Gold Award for the Second Year in a Row and 12 year old Student Wins 2016 STEM Video Game Challenge

Youth Digital Inc., a leading technology education organization for youth ages 8-14 that brought you Mod Design 1, Learn to Code with Minecraft® and 3D Game Development 1, Learn to Code C# in Unity®, is proud to be named winner of the Parents’ Choice Gold Award for the second year in a row.

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The winning course, 3D Character Animation 1, is another installment in Youth Digital’s series of courses around Minecraft®. Emily Crawford, reviewer for Parents’ Choice® , writes, “We have been astonished by Youth Digital’s level of commitment to its students; this, above even the brilliantly-written course material, is the company’s greatest asset…[this] more than justifies the $250 price tag.”

Continuing the winning streak, Youth Digital would like to congratulate student Ronan Boyarksi, age 12, for winning the 2016 STEM Video Game Challenge! Ronan’s game, Hungry Black Hole, won the Open Platform Middle School category. Read more about Ronan’s win at the STEM Challenge website.

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“We are extremely proud of Ronan,” says Justin Richards, CEO and Founder of Youth Digital® . “His commitment, appetite for learning, and creativity paid off here. Ronan is a shining example of what we at Youth Digital believe at our core: teaching kids how to create with technology leads to a world of opportunities.”

Youth Digital is offering exclusive deals on its award winning courses throughout the 2016 Holiday season and beyond.

To learn more about Youth Digital and its unique approach to technology education, please visit http://www.youthdigital.com.

About Youth Digital
Youth Digital® offers a compelling mix of online courses that teach kids the critical technology concepts and skills that they will need to be successful in today’s digital world. With courses designed to be fun, interactive, and rewarding, kids ages 8 to 14 become digital creators through their breakthrough learning platform and cutting-edge curriculum. Students watch video tutorials, respond to questions, earn badges, complete interactive quizzes, and attempt challenging assignments as they step toward mastering key technology skills and professional-level software.

Founded in 2010 and based in the Research Triangle Park in North Carolina, Youth Digital is committed to making technology education accessible to kids globally. Since its inception, the company has reached more than 100,000 students through its popular summer camp programs and expanding portfolio of introductory and advanced online courses. Today, students from more than 100 countries are enrolled in Youth Digital’s online courses in Java programming, game development, mobile app design, 3D printing, 3D animation, and more.

About Parents’Choice®
Parents’ Choice Foundation, established in 1978 as a 501c3, is the nation’s oldest nonprofit guide to quality children’s media and toys. Best known for the Parents’ Choice Awards® program, the Parents’ Choice Award Seals are the Foundation’s internationally recognized and respected icons of quality. The Parents’ Choice core team is a small group of talented and fun-loving alphabetically sorted professionals: Claire S. Green, Jackie Yau, and Keri Zeiler. The Parents’ Choice Award judges are experts in areas of industry and interest, from dinosaurs to digital media and from mathematics to making mayhem. The Parents’ Choice Awards committee members hail from families across the country.

Youth Digital Launches 3D Game Development 1 Course to Teach Kids Unity® the Leading Platform for Creating in 2D, 3D, VR and AR

Youth Digital Launches 3D Game Development 1 Course to Teach Kids Unity® the Leading Platform for Creating in 2D, 3D, VR and AR

Youth Digital, the leading technology education organization for youth ages 8-14, today announced the launch of 3D Game Development 1, an engaging online course that teaches kids how to develop their own video games using the industry leading Unity® game engine.

Youth Digital, the leading technology education organization for youth ages 8-14, today announced the launch of 3D Game Development 1.

This course gives students the freedom to fully realize their game vision using the professional Unity® game engine. Kids will learn to code in C#, and throughout the course they will be taught industry-standard coding and design skills. Students have full control of the story; they can code their own quests, design multiple levels, puzzles, and enemies. At the end of the course, students will have a complete video game to share with friends and family.

Course highlights include the following:

  • Learn Unity® – an industry-standard tool for video game development and the platform for many popular titles like Pokémon Go® and Temple Run®
  • Learn C# – a professional programming language – and career-ready best practices

“Because Unity® is one of the most widely-used professional game engines in the Industry, there is no limit to what our kids can do after taking this course,” said Justin Richards, CEO and Founder of Youth Digital. “A lot of people don’t think kids as young as eight or even ten can learn to use tools like this, but they can learn anything if they’re excited enough about what they’re making. We give them the fundamentals, but our students always take the skills we give them and run with them, so we can’t wait to see what they go on to do with Unity®.”

The 12-month subscription (Approximately $~21/month, paid annually at $249.99) includes more than 30 hours of learning, 1 year of course access, support from online teachers, self-paced and project-based curriculum, interactive quizzes and challenges, final project, and a personalized evaluation of their final project.

To learn more about Youth Digital and its unique approach to technology education, please visit http://www.youthdigital.com.

About Youth Digital
Youth Digital offers a compelling mix of online courses that teach kids the critical technology concepts and skills that they will need to be successful in today’s digital world. With courses designed to be fun, interactive, and rewarding, kids ages 8 to 14 become digital creators through their breakthrough learning platform and cutting-edge curriculum. Students watch video tutorials, respond to questions, earn badges, complete interactive quizzes, and attempt challenging assignments as they step toward mastering key technology skills and professional-level software.

Founded in 2010 and based in the Research Triangle Park in North Carolina, Youth Digital is committed to making technology education accessible to kids globally. Since its inception, the company has reached more than 100,000 students through its popular summer camp programs and expanding portfolio of introductory and advanced online courses. Today, students from more than 100 countries are enrolled in Youth Digital’s online courses in Java programming, game development, mobile app design, 3D printing, 3D animation, and more.

5 Interactive Events for Creative Kids

5 Interactive Events for Creative Kids

Creative kids are tough to keep engaged– they’re always on to the next thing! This can be a challenge for many parents who want to fill their students’ lives outside of school with relevant, educational activities.

Beyond your kid’s regular extracurriculars, contests and conferences are a great way to explore your kids’ interests! If you missed our post on STEAM contests for kids, check it out here. Today, we’ll cover six events that make a great enrichment activity for creative kids.

1. LEGO Kids Fest

What? LEGO Kids Fest is a 3-day event filled with fun interactive, creative and educational activities for the whole family. It’s a hands-on event where kids of all ages can make awesome creations with LEGOs and participate in other activities like rock climbing, art projects, and feats of engineering.

Who? LEGO Kids Fest is great for kids and families of all ages!

Where? When? The Fest travels around North America each year. Check their schedule to see when it stops in a city near you.

Why kids will love it: LEGO Kids Fest brings a hands-on approach to creating creators. Through the various activities offered at the Fest, each kid is sure to create something awesome during the event.

2. Young Innovators Fair

What? The Young Innovators Fair is an event that brings science, technology, engineering, and math to the forefront for kids. The Fair offers ten distinct Innovation Worlds focused on themes like robots and coding, with a variety of exhibits, activities, and experiments for kids.

Who? Young innovators ages K-12 are encouraged to attend!

Where? When? The Young Innovators Fair just passed but stay tuned to their website to see when the next event will happen!

Why kids will love it: With over 40 exhibits and attractions, kids are sure to find an activity that appeals to their interests. From launching their own rocket to learning about dinosaurs, there’s something for everyone!

3. Maker Faire

What? Also known as the Greatest Show (& Tell) on Earth, Maker Faire is part science fair, part county fair, and part something entirely new! According to their website, Maker Faire is a family-friendly showcase of invention, creativity, and resourcefulness.

Who? Maker Faire gives people of all ages a chance to be makers of art, technology, or whatever sparks their interest. They also sponsor the Young Makers program, which gives kids ages 8 to 18 a space to be makers in their own communities.

Where? When? Started in 2006 in San Francisco, Maker Faire has quickly become a national phenomenon, with approximately 150 Faires all over the country last year! Find an upcoming fair near you here.

Why kids will love it: At the 10th Annual Maker Faire, there were ten workshops designed specifically for kids, including a chance for kids to create their own electronic circuit, as well as a station for kids to try their hand at woodworking. Each Maker Faire offers a new, unique experience to inspire kids and adults alike to become Makers.

4. Kids Hack Day

What? Kids Hack Day is a global series of events that give kids the chance to be creative and innovative as they invent new technologies. It’s a one-day event where kids come together to hack and make new uses of everyday items.

Who? Kids of all ages!

Where? When? Kids Hack Day has held events all over the world, from San Francisco to Sydney! The next one is happening in Sweden and you can check out their website for upcoming events.

Why kids will love it: Kids Hack Day encourages kids to think differently about the uses of items they encounter every day. It’s a one-of-a-kind experience for kids globally!

5. USA Science & Engineering Festival Expo

What? The USA Science & Engineering Festival Expo is a national science fair that aims to put the spotlight on STEM subjects. At this free event, over 1,000 STEM organizations will present hands-on science and engineering activities for people of all ages.

Who? All ages!

Where? When? The Expo will take place on April 16-17, 2016, in Washington, D.C. Find out all you need to know about attending here!

Why kids will love it: As one of the largest STEM events in the country, the USA Science & Engineering Festival Expo, is a dream come true for creative kids. It’ll take the two full days to experience all of the activities and exhibits available for kids, so plan accordingly!

Events and fairs are a great way to encourage kids’ creativity and empower them to become creators. Any of these events is sure to be a great experience for the whole family!

Why I Love to Create: Caleb

Why I Love to Create: Caleb

Hello, my name is Caleb and I am excited to share all of the reasons that I like to create.
First, creating is not like anything else. You can take your amazing ideas and digitally apply them into a 3D game, app, mod, or animation. To me, being able to create is like being bilingual. In fact, by 2020, quite a few STEM careers will include computer programming. This is an amazing number and I enjoy being able to learn some basic programming.
Whatever I have created, from a flying reindeer in my mod CookieCraft or making cool cutscenes in my app, Bowler Bash (not yet released!), I have always had lots of fun making my ideas come to life. Every single Minecraft item and every single if/then statement that I’ve programmed was awesome. Here are two more reasons that I like to create:
  • I can let my imagination run wild.
  • Programming is like a puzzle with lots of pieces to put together.
I like to create so much that I’m creating a software company called Cliffdrop Creative. I will use my company to make apps and other programming masterpieces.
Programming is also a great source of entertainment, so when you can’t go outside because you’d turn into a water monster, can’t find your book, and your iPad is out of battery, you can have something that will help you get a job instead.
No rules or boundaries are found in creating. It’s what you want, when you want, how you want. For example, if you want a giant troll that can control the gravity of Jupiter and you have to defeat the troll by destroying all his hot dogs (just an idea!) you can do that. The only limits are the storage space on your computer and your imagination.
If you do not think creating sounds fun, think again. And if it still doesn’t sound totally awesome, I don’t know what will be. Keep creating!
Fashion Design – New York Fashion Week

Fashion Design – New York Fashion Week

To all of our fashion design friends out there! This past week was a big event, September 8 – 15, New York kicked off the fashion world’s global tour of all things avant garde, couture, and on trend for many acclaimed designers’ 2017 Spring lines. This year’s shows included works from couture mainstays, large retail chains, and lots of newcomers trying to make waves in their NYFW debut.

This season’s collections saw lots of creativity from use of vibrant colors, bold prints, and mixtures of textures. The hybrid athleisure (athletics + leisure) wear has shown its longevity with a strong statement from a familiar brand having it’s fashion week debut, Under Armour.

This year was collaborations. Recording artist Rihanna joined forces with athletic apparel group Puma to create Fenty X Puma and model, Gigi Hadid, took a leading role with design house Tommy Hilfiger for TOMMYXGIGI.

With all of the excitement that engulfs New York City over the course of this week and trends to follow, a staple of the weekly semi-annual event is the interpretations of fashion expressed on the pavement runways of the city.

As published by New York Times, here are some of the best outfits outside of the main events:

NY Times Best of Street Style – NYFW 2016

We are so excited about this past week, it is time for us to create our own designs! Time to login to our Fashion Design 1 course to get a jumpstart in the fashion design industry. Fashion Design 1

Now that we have seen what New York had to offer – we are anticipating great things from London, Milan, Paris, and YOU!

 

Why I Love to Create: Sofie

Why I Love to Create: Sofie

I like to create because I am a right brained person. I am the creative soul who needs to burst out, for others fear to do so. I feel it’s my calling to use my creative skills for the good of others and hopefully bring out the good in others!

Where I mainly put my talent is in animation. Since I was young, I was marveled by the illusion of life created by animation. Over the years, I have found it a coping mechanism for my anxiety, I found a soothing rhythm in frame by frame 2D animation and the bounciness of 3D animation. My creation through animation has lead me to write screenplays and short stories, I even plan to start my own productions company when I’m older in hopes to inspire others to create!

My passion will burn with me for the rest of my life, and hope that one day my works are looked upon with the same awe that I have when I look upon another’s creation. I love to create!

A Parent’s Guide to the Technology Education (TechEd) Space

As in all things, once a topic becomes trend-worthy, the space gets crowded quickly. STEM and coding have seen a significant rise in importance as more and more of our world becomes digitally-focused. It’s challenging for a parent to navigate. What is out there to help inspire kids to use technology productively? What is the right fit for a particular kid?

This handy guide will provide insights into what tools and solutions are out there to help parents navigate technology education and find the right solution for their kids.

Let’s first begin by defining technology education (TechEd). TechEd can refer to anything that teachers your child how to use or understand technology, including learning to code, designing apps, creating video games, and more.

TechEd Resources Available

  • Afterschool programs or summer camps (like ID Tech, Sylvan, and Youth Digital). Afterschool programs and summer camps have risen in popularity over the last couple of years. They provide kids with the ability to have a condensed technology introduction over the span of a week while giving parents a fun summer kids activity while school is out. Costs vary from $350 to $900 per week.
  • Online educational videos (like Khan Academy, YouTube). Educational video resources provide a host of content across a myriad of subjects. It is a self-paced solution that gives students the ability to learn from subject-matter experts and can span videos to written content. Most times these solutions are at no cost to parents and kids.
  • Online coding tools (like Scratch, Tynker, CodeCombat). Online coding tools provide a software solution for students to explore coding in a very focused environment. Often times it is a proprietary solution that teaches coding in a gamified ecosystem. Most pricing is subscription with a monthly fee starting at as little as $6/month.
  • Online courses (like Udemy, Coursera, Youth Digital). Online courses offer the opportunity to take a more structured course that has a focused beginning and end. In addition, they provide more long-term educational opportunities by teaching the fundamentals of anything from coding to design. Pricing varies starting at $25 to more than $500.
  • Robotics and Hardware (like Lego Mindstorms, BitsBox). This is the solution for those that don’t want their kids tied to computer coding only. Solutions like Lego Mindstorms and BitsBox introduce coding concepts with simple commands for everything from app design to robotics. Monthly subscriptions begin at $20/month or one-time fees up to $350.
  • 1-on-1 Tutoring (like a friend, relative, tutor). One-on-one tutoring provides a customized curriculum for your student which allows control of pace and engagement.
  • Books (like textbooks, how to guides). There are quite a few educational resources like textbooks to help guide students on subjects such as coding, programming and design. This type of solution will be for kids who love reading and learn best when they are reading and then applying what they’ve learned. Pricing varies.

Things to look for

Technology education isn’t a one size fits all. Determining what is right for your family and your kids can be hard to navigate, but here are a few key questions you should ask yourself before pursuing a solution. Also, keep in mind, it may be a combination of many solutions that meets your family’s needs.

  1. Does the solution hold my child’s attention? This is an important one to consider? Does your child prefer reading to videos? Does he or she prefer learning through gamification or through projects? Considering what will hold your kid’s attention will be an important component in determining the right TechEd solution for you.
  2. Is it fun and exciting? This more than likely always has to check the box “yes”, especially since you are considering extra-curricular activities outside of a school environment. Finding a solution that engages your kid while keeping it fun and exciting will be necessary to achieve success.
  3. Is it the right level of difficulty? Has your kid already gained some fundamental TechEd knowledge and you are building on it? Is it moving at their pace? Being able to answer whether or not a solution provides the right level of difficulty may require some trial and error, but finding a solution that challenges your kid will be important.
  4. Will your kid want to do it in their spare time? This is a big one! When they are outside the classroom, will they spend their extra time learning about coding? Is the content fresh and engaging enough to entice them to want to learn outside of the classroom? Don’t know? Just ask. I’m certain a kid will tell you more about what they want to create to help guide you.
  5. Does it require a lot of your time? Parents are limited on time, so finding a resource that limits the amount of time a student needs parent support on is important. However, if you are a parent that wants to be actively engaged, there are also limitless solutions that are more of a guide to enriching a parent-led technology education environment.
  6. Are they learning or just playing? Gamification is great. It helps kids learn, but it’s also important to discern whether or not they are learning or just spending a lot of time in video games that introduce coding concepts, but not actual coding. Again, it’s sometimes challenging to determine from a solution whether or not that is the case, so a little research ahead of time is good.
  7. What does the support look like? If you are limited on time, support is an essential part of the solution you choose. Is it kid-friendly? Is it responsive to your kid’s requests? What is the availability? Be certain to take a look at the support solution prior to choosing.

Choosing a TechEd solution for your kids can be challenging, but hopefully this guide will help give you an overview of what is available and what may be a good fit for your kids.

Why I love to code

Why I love to code

By Sam D., Youth Digital student

Hi, I’m Sam D. I’m a programmer! I created a company with some of my friends called ‘Funny Sharks United’. I have created many games such as ‘Bouncing’ and ‘Bouncing 2’. Youth Digital has asked why we love to create, and I wanted to share my thoughts.

I love to create because you set your own rules, boundaries, and can go wherever your imagination takes you. You can create your own world, dimension, galaxy, design, or anything! Creating is easy, and fun. Coding may seem challenging at first and you might say, “This looks hard”, but it’s actually not.

I love creating because you don’t have to follow someone else’s order, you make your own order. To me that’s amazing.  Plus your friends can play whatever you made and you love seeing them laugh and smile at what you created.

Each time you create something, it’s exciting! I remember when I first made my character launch in App Design 1, I ran downstairs and yelled to my dad, “DAD. DAD. DAD. I JUST MADE A BLUE BALL LAUNCH!”

Whatever new component I had coded, I would get excited at my accomplishments! And while half of the time people wouldn’t know what I was talking about, I still knew I had done something amazing.

I have health problems. When I was in the hospital and I created something new, it would make me happy- even when I was suffering from lots of pain.

Whenever you learn how to code, design, or animate you have the ability to go deeper within the software and learn new things. I have done that and I’m creating things that aren’t even in COURSES!

Creating is really awesome. It’s like being a mayor of a city. So I suggest if you have never created anything to consider exploring taking a creative journey through app design, game design or coding.

Keep staying creative!

-Sam D.

The Top 5 Youth Digital Blog Posts

If you are looking for the hottest topics fresh on parent’s minds, look no further than the Youth Digital blog. We have collected the five hottest Youth Digital blog posts over the last 12 months and collected them in one area. The common theme: Minecraft. Is it productive? Is it safe? We answer those questions and more below.

  1. 5 Things Parents Should Know About MInecraft. Many parents worry about their kids wasting time on video games, and also about the potentially violent or inappropriate content of those games. While it’s true that some video games aren’t suitable for kids, many games present a valuable learning opportunity and can be a productive use of your kids’ time.
  2. 5 More Things Every Parent Should Know About MInecraft. By now, we’re all familiar with Minecraft, the amazingly fun, never-ending sandbox game that has been popular with kids and people of all ages for more than five years. We also know that kids gain substantial benefits from playing video games. So let’s dive a little deeper into the world of Minecraft with five more things that every parent should know about their kid’s favorite game!
  3. What Do Kids Learn When They Play MInecraft? At first glance, Minecraft may look like any other video game: a fantasy world where players gather resources, battle obstacles, and try to stay alive. But the sandbox nature of the game actually creates a learning experience for kids where they gain valuable skills that are applicable to real life through gameplay. So what exactly are kids learning as they play Minecraft? There must be a reason that it’s been incorporated into classrooms and homeschool curriculum, after all! Here are five things that kids learn when they play Minecraft.
  4. 6 Surprising Benefits of Playing Video Games. One of the most common concerns we hear from parents is that their kids’ love of video games is causing them to spend their time unproductively. Instead of playing outside or reading a book, they’re glued to a screen. But rest assured, parents– there are proven benefits to playing video games! There have even been several recent studies that generated scientific evidence of the beneficial effects of playing video games.
  5. Top 10 STEAM Contests for My Kid. It may seem that one of the last things kids want to do outside of school is something that feels like homework. However, contests are a great extra-curricular activity to get kids involved in their favorite subjects! Covering topics from science to art, there are plenty of national and regional contests open to students of all ages that are sure to excite kids and bring out their competitive spirit.

What are your thoughts? Are there other posts that resonated more? Tell us what you think.