Month: May 2016

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.

The STEM Gap & the Role Parents are Playing

The STEM Gap & the Role Parents are Playing

According to recent research, STEM jobs are growing at 1.7 times the rate of non-STEM jobs, and the U.S. is simply not producing enough candidates to fill them. Only 16% of high school seniors are interested in pursuing STEM careers, according to the Department of Education.

The White House has created a significant initiative to invest in technology education to help bridge the gap. “Now more than ever, the American economy needs a workforce that is skilled, adaptable, creative, and equipped for success in the global marketplace,” said the White House in a recent report. The challenge lies with pace. Many parents feel the STEM education gap isn’t being filled quickly enough for their kids to be relevant and compete for jobs in the future. Because of that, many parents are being proactive in bridging the STEM gap by finding unique solutions to explore technology, creativity and project management.

Youth Digital conducted a survey that asked parents of kids 8-16 what they looked for in technology education and why. Here are some of the core findings:

  • Parents want solutions that allows kids to explore the technology they use day-to-day. Creating apps, designing a video game or creating their own YouTube channel were cited as the three most compelling projects parents wanted children to use.
  • Parents value long-lasting skills. Coding/development, web design and app design were the leading tech skills parents would be willing to invest in.
  • Parents are driven to bridge the STEM gap to allow for long-term professional success. Parents ranked the leading reasons to invest in tech education for their kids with passion for a future career, professional-level tech skills, and a solid understanding of tech skills rounding out the top three.
  • Parents are concerned about their ability to support students through the STEM gap. We commonly find this to be a leading reason many parents don’t pursue investing in finding tech education solutions for their kids. In our study, parents cited that a student could get stuck and give up, the content may be boring, the work could be too challenging, or they will need help a parent can’t provide as the leading reasons not to move forward with tech education for kids outside of school.
  • Parents are concerned about the amount of screen time that isn’t productive. 83% of our parents said they were concerned about how their kids use technology today and felt it wasn’t utilized productively.

Parent’s are clearly driven in ensuring their kids future success and understand the need for a core technology foundation. While schools begin to evolve their technology initiatives, parent’s have and will commit personal resources in bridging the gap. Technology isn’t going away, and the need to find solutions that allow students to be ahead of the curve is growing.

“In Their Own Words” Series: Why I Love to Create

“In Their Own Words” Series: Why I Love to Create

By Jack Buckley, Youth Digital Student

My name is Jack, creator of the Ultimate Knight series and owner of the company, Quantum Games. I’m here to tell you why I love to create. I’ve always been a creator. From art to Minecraft, I have found that I am not content with my day without creating.

You can get bored with playing video games, browsing the app store for the ‘NEXT BIG THING’ or scrolling through social media 24/7. But by creating, you aren’t limited to what the designer put in the game or wishing for more features but not being able to do anything about it. By creating apps, games and more you have the ability to do whatever you want to do. If there isn’t a certain feature or function in Minecraft, you can add it through modding. Have an idea? Simply jot it down on paper or Apple Notes and start creating the ‘NEXT BIG THING’ yourself.

Creativity and imagination are some of the best things in my opinion. It gives you a certain level of security knowing that there are people out there who created Apple or Google. With hard work; you could be like them.

I love to create because it empowers you, makes you feel like you really can accomplish something significant. And you really can. I worked for 80 hours over the summer on the first ‘Ultimate Knight’ game, and am currently 40 Hours in to the sequel. Creativity, for me, makes work seem like fun. I would have never made it through those 120 Hours without creativity.

I also love to create because you feel immense gratification at the end when people say, “Wow! You can create a video game? That is awesome, dude!” I don’t regret one moment of that 80-hour period now, and I’d do it again in a heartbeat.

When work feels like fun, you are encouraged to do it. That is why I love creating. And I would like to encourage you, if you’ve never tried to create something significant or empower people with your product, consider trying it out. You may be surprised – creating is truly the biggest blessing any of us have. So try it out and join me in creating!

4 Ways Education Has Evolved Over Time

4 Ways Education Has Evolved Over Time

Education techniques and methods have certainly evolved since many parents were sitting behind the desks. Instead of pens and paper, students now read and write using iPads and teachers use smartboards at the front of the class instead of projectors. Innovation in education has led to amazing changes in the classroom, especially by way of technology.

Leveraging technology for education not only offers a surplus of learning tools for teachers to make the classroom experience more engaging, but it sets the foundation for students to learn important lessons – from how operating technology to creating with it – that will be beneficial as they head into their professional careers.

According to Education Week, public schools in the United States provide at least one computer for every five students and spend more than $3 billion per year on digital content. The combination of talented teachers and new technology creates a more empowered classroom and better personalized learning experience for both students and teachers – a drastic change from the days of composition notebooks and #2 pencils!

There are many ways that technology has changed the classroom. Here are just a few:

  1. Personalized Learning. Technology has made it easy for kids to receive a personalized curriculum, such as the pace of advancement and challenge level, thanks to digital education programs that can be customized for each student. In fact, 93% of education professionals agree that students benefit from personalized pacing to accelerate learning.
  1. Freedom to Create. Say goodbye to the classic diorama project. Teachers today create fun projects that increase retention and boost entrepreneurial interests. Interactive lessons that cater to various hobbies and interests help entrepreneurial spirits shine brighter than structured projects, showing that there is no one uniform way to encourage learning.
  1. Technology is a Constant in the Learning Experience. Gone are the days of just one hour devoted to using the computer – kids are now using computers for each subject throughout the day. In fact, a research study showed that kindergarteners who use iPads scored much higher on literacy tests than students who don’t use iPads.
  1. Learning Real-Life Skills that Relate to Any Career. Schools offer a wide array of classes that give kids the opportunity to explore a variety of interests and spark creativity. They’re encouraged to question, experiment, and innovate in ways that were not previously stressed, yet are important throughout life no matter the field.

Between the leniency to pursue subjects that excite students and more 1-on-1 learning, the classroom will continue to evolve thanks to innovation in technology. These advances will continue to encourage students to innovate and create in ways that will not only build on skills important for early development, but for every stage of life.

Why Summer Fun Can Include Coding

Why Summer Fun Can Include Coding

Summer is right around the corner! However, simply because school is out doesn’t mean learning needs to stop. Don’t worry; we think your kids will actually be excited to continue their education track during the summer months.

Keeping your kids academically challenged during the summer is crucial to continuing brain development. In fact, kids whose brains aren’t engaged during the summer vacation can lose up to 60% of what they learned during the previous school year. By the time school starts again in September, they’ve forgotten fundamental lessons, which may cause them to fall behind other students.

Don’t let this free time go to waste. Summer break presents a unique opportunity for kids to explore their passions and learn skills that aren’t taught in the traditional classroom, like coding.

The number of programming-related jobs is expected to soar in the next decade and the ability to code will become an essential skill for the future workforce. In fact, our recent study found that 42% of parents list science and technology as the most important subject for their child’s education. Starting to code at a young age puts kids at a competitive advantage as it teaches important problem-solving skills that boost student performance in every academic subject.

Coding software that engages kids with creativity is a great at-home option since it allows kids to work at their own pace while creating impressive projects. At the end of the summer your kid will have knowledge in an emerging technology sector and a finalized project to show for their hard work.

But, your kid doesn’t only have to learn independently!

Summer break is the perfect opportunity to enroll your kid in a coding camp. These camps, like ours, inspire an interest not taught in mainstream education, while promoting creativity and productivity. Here are three benefits of enrolling your kid in a coding camp for the summer:

  1. An opportunity to meet other kids interested in coding. Kids can discuss and collaborate on their projects, which teaches vital teamwork skills. Working with peers can also inspire a passion for computer science beyond the summertime by meeting up with their new friends during the school year to show off their latest creations.
  1. In-person access to dedicated, top-notch professionals. Teachers can be more hands-on in person and motivate kids to stay on task by fostering an environment that welcomes curiosity and creativity. These professionals become role models for the campers, as they show kids real-life examples of where coding can take your career.

 

  1. A structured day filled with different activities. Coding camps aren’t just about sitting in front of a computer. The days are broken up to give campers a chance to play outside and get involved in fun games. Kids can exercise minds while still enjoying the benefits of the warm summer months.

Whether it’s an at-home program or a camp dedicated to computer science, you can’t go wrong with teaching your kid how to code this summer. This valuable skill will transcend their academic careers and provide necessary brain development that is essential for long-term personal and professional growth.

A Youth Digital Story: Why I Love to Create

How Nicholas Found Passion for Animation

Hello everyone! My name is Nicholas, and I’m the creator of the Minecraft short film avalanche, which won a runner-up position in the 2015 winter contest at Youth Digital! Youth Digital asked its students to write essays about why we love to create on our free time. I’m super excited to get to share some of my creative passions with the rest of the world!

Creating for me has become limitless as I explore the possibilities of what I can do in the 3D animation software, blender. I have been animating in blender for about four years, even before Youth Digital released its animation courses. I have had a lot of help from a good friend, Nathaniel, who mentored me voluntarily in 3D animation from the beginning! I also, of course, learned a lot of useful techniques from none other than Youth Digital! They taught me a lot about blending movements in the dope sheet, and the NLA editor.

I love creating because you can take your imagination and bring it to life with digital applications that let you create things such as Minecraft mods and 3D animations that you can share with the rest of the world! Creating sometimes does have its limits, but with hard work and determination, you can stretch those boundaries and create just about whatever you can imagine. I still remember the thrill I had when first booted up blender. I felt like the possibilities were endless for creating and modeling the characters that I could only draw on the Windows Paint Program!  Creating 3D animations in blender, for me, has become a favorite hobby, and quite possibly a future career.

So a note to everyone reading this, you can, with hard work and determination, create just about whatever you want with the main limitation being you time and imagination. But do remember, that sometimes you need to have a team of people working together, to make something possible. Currently, I am working on the story to my next film, which is about an Easter Egg who risks everything, including his shell, for the good of everyone else. Thank you so much for reading, and I encourage you to go and create!

Here’s the link to my friend Nathaniel Winckler’s awesome website: www.natewinck.com.

 

Using Creativity to Fix the STEM Achievement Gap

Using Creativity to Fix the STEM Achievement Gap

 

Did you know that the quality of US math and science education ranks 44th in the world? There’s speculation that these lower levels of STEM education could lead to the country’s declining global economic competitiveness, so how do we go about reversing the achievement gap in US STEM education?

It starts with engagement – and the best way to inspire engagement is with creativity.

With the increase in mandated testing, students are under an enormous amount of pressure to learn as much as possible. But, memorization has replaced creative opportunities in many classrooms. Most students won’t be inspired to take an interest in STEM by sitting in a desk and copying notes on abstract theories. Instead they’ll gain a negative view of these seemingly “dry” subjects that they are struggling to understand. This leads to less interest in STEM and a decline in innovations that have accelerated the US as a global economic power over the last century.

Creativity is a vital part of STEM. Rather than simply memorizing theories and consuming technology, we can inspire kids to create with it. In fact, this year’s White House Science Fair featured over 100 students who used technology to create innovative projects. From robots to 3D printers, these students learned how to think creatively about topics in STEM to invent amazing projects.

It’s time to replace the dry lectures in science and math classes with opportunities for kids to explore their creativity within the subjects. Here are 4 ways to bring creativity into STEM education:

  1. Don’t just give kids the answer – make them find it. Rather than simply assigning readings detailing a complex theory that explains how the world works, we need to create lesson plans based around projects. These projects give students the opportunity to figure out creative solutions to come to their own conclusions.
  1. Provide opportunities for real-world engagement. Connecting lessons to real life situations gives kids a better grasp of the subjects while providing them with the chance to come up with actual solutions to real problems. 
  1. Give them the opportunity to bounce ideas off of one another. Setting aside time for brainstorming and discussion teaches kids how to work together to come up with creative ideas. It can even help a student who is struggling with a classroom lesson to understand it better based on a peer’s explanation.
  1. Open lessons up to more questions. Recognizing and encouraging curiosity during lessons by giving students the chance to ask questions gives them an opportunity to explore more in the topics that interest them the most.

The former US Secretary of Education stressed, “Arts education stimulates creativity and innovation, critical for young Americans competing in a global economy.” Integrating art and creativity into STEM education will lead to more innovation and creation that is necessary for not only professional growth, but a crucial component to the future economic success of the US. From kids creating their own digital worlds with coding or making impressive designs with 3D printing, creativity plays a big role in STEM and should be celebrated.

Youth Digital Honored as Gold Stevie® Award Winner in 2016 American Business Awards

Youth Digital, the leading technology education organization for kids ages 8 to 14, was named the winner of a Gold Stevie® Award in the New Product or Service of the Year – Education – Game-based Curriculum Solution category for its Server Design 1 course in the 14th Annual American Business Awards.

Server Design 1 is an interactive online course that teaches kids Java programming as they design and develop their own Minecraft world. Through engaging videos, challenging assignments, interactive quizzes and access to a professional Java development tool, kids are able to create their own customized Minecraft server from scratch.

More than 3,400 nominations from organizations of all sizes and in virtually every industry were submitted this year for consideration in a wide range of categories, including Startup of the Year, Executive of the Year, Best New Product or Service of the Year, Marketing Campaign of the Year, Live Event of the Year, and App of the Year, among others.

“Server Design 1 is one of our most popular courses and we’re thrilled to receive the Gold Stevie Award in recognition of its success to help turn kids into creators, not just consumers, of technology,” said Justin Richards, CEO of Youth Digital. “Congratulations to all of this year’s winners!”

More than 250 professionals worldwide participated in the judging process to select this year’s Stevie Award winners.

“The judges were extremely impressed with the quality of entries we received this year. The competition was intense and every organization that has won should be proud,” said Michael Gallagher, president and founder of the Stevie Awards.

Details about The American Business Awards and the list of 2016 Stevie winners are available at http://www.StevieAwards.com/ABA.

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 60,000 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 the Stevie Awards
Stevie Awards are conferred in seven programs: the Asia-Pacific Stevie Awards, the German Stevie Awards, The American Business Awards, The International Business Awards, the Stevie Awards for Women in Business, the Stevie Awards for Great Employers, and the Stevie Awards for Sales & Customer Service. Stevie Awards competitions receive more than 10,000 entries each year from organizations in more than 60 nations. Honoring organizations of all types and sizes and the people behind them, the Stevies recognize outstanding performances in the workplace worldwide. Learn more about the Stevie Awards at http://www.StevieAwards.com.

Youth Digital Gives Kids the Tools to Create

Not just consumers, but technology creators

Youth Digital provides online computer courses that teach kids how to be digital creators and innovators. It also offers summer camps to those lucky enough to live near one of its 21 camp locations. But the founder of Youth Digital, Justin Richards, has a goal of reaching kids who may not have access to a cool camp like his. Hence the online courses, which are engaging youngsters in more than 100 countries.

More Information: http://www.blackenterprise.com/education/youth-digital-gives-kids-the-tools-to-create/