Category: Creativity

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.

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!
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!

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.

“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!

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.

Parents Use Technology to Drive Creativity

Parents Use Technology to Drive Creativity

There are a lot of stats regarding the use of technology by kids. Many caution that device and technology time can be a distraction versus an educational outlet. However, the reality is the way that we interact and engage in the present day is heavily digital. So how can parents find a way to pivot technology digestion into creativity? Here are three ways to take technology and turn it from a passive engagement to an interactive one for kids.

    1. Don’t just play games, create them. Playing games is fun and in many ways reinforces problem solving skills and other key ingredients to development. But what if you could take the passion for playing games and infuse a desire to create them. It’s not unheard of for kids to create their own video games, apps, and more. There are multiple resources out there that can get your kid learning to code including Scratch, Lissa Explains it All, and Kids Ruby.
    2. Don’t just watch YouTube videos, star in them. We are all guilty of spending time watching the most recent video sensation, but what if you become the next YouTube video sensation. Creating videos with your kids can help with project management skills, creativity, story building and more. Don’t just take our word for it, but check out one of our students who has created her own YouTube channel.
    3. Don’t just be social, inspire group interaction. Kids are actively leveraging social media, and while most parents are spending the majority of their time encouraging social responsibility, another great avenue for creating inspiration is through social media. Encourage your kids, along with you, to share their multimedia content they’ve created. So instead of just using it for conversations, start conversations by sharing the latest Mod for Minecraft, or the most recent video creation, or a customized app.

We are living in a digital era, but that doesn’t mean that digital equals consumption only.  Encourage your kids to look up from the screen and envision the next digital project they will create.

Parents: Technology Isn’t Just for Entertainment

Parents: Technology Isn’t Just for Entertainment

Technology presents numerous challenges for parents with young children. From frequent tablet and smartphone product updates to new video games and cartoons, technology plays a prominent role in kids’ lives.

Kids today consume more media and technology than ever before. In fact, those ages 8 – 12 spend an average of eight hours per day playing video games, watching TV or movies, checking social media, etc. The various devices, programs, and platforms keep kids quiet and entertained, but the educational value of what the kids watch – typically on multiple screens at once – is disturbingly low.

As technology takes on a bigger role in our everyday lives, the instinct to put a tablet or smartphone in kids’ hands to keep the peace shouldn’t be the norm. Instead, for the 60 percent of parents who admit to using tablets and smartphones to distract their kids, advancements in technology have actually presented the opportunity to introduce technology as a fun learning tool, not a distraction.

Learning skills in technology can turn the next generation into creators, not just consumers. The innovation within technology education has been immensely valuable in sparking this shift inside the classroom, but parents also need to help kids create and ask questions outside of the classroom – both valuable assets in shaping the minds of tomorrow.

Online technology courses empower kids to create their own games and apps, which can turn into profitable businesses. Technology offers endless opportunities for creation, so imagine what kids can create in the future if they’re learning now. As they build necessary skills in technology, kids can learn what their passions are and better prepare themselves for the next phase of their life or even their future professional careers.

Some parents believe that teaching kids with their gadgets is a way of “tricking” them into learning. But, 9 out of 10 parents want their kids to learn basic skills in technology. So, why not provide children with the opportunity to learn necessary skills for the digital age via mediums that they already enjoy?

There are three main areas where technology education provides numerous advances for kids, planting the seeds for passion and professional success and even the beginnings of an entrepreneurial mindset:

  1. Literacy for the digital age:Technology is an integral part of almost all industries, from healthcare to transportation. Accordingly, proficient technology skills and knowledge are critical assets for students’ future economic opportunity and social mobility.
  1. Job readiness:In 2015, there were more than 600,000 high-paying technology jobs unfilled, and by 2018, 51 percent of all STEM jobs are projected to be in computer science-related fields, according to the White House. Today’s students are tomorrow’s engineers, programmers, and entrepreneurs, and they will need a solid technology foundation in order to be successful, regardless of the industry they choose.
  1. Real-life skills:Technology education offers great benefits to students that translate to real life, regardless of career path. From problem solving to critical thinking, using and learning to create with technology helps kids acquire skills that will aid them in their educational, professional, and personal pursuits.

Teaching tech at a young age gives kids a competitive advantage in the growing digital era. In fact, a study conducted by Google found that early exposure is essential to creating interest in the growing computer science field. These skills need to be fostered not only at home, but also in the classroom.

Parents who encourage their kids to create and ask questions outside of the classroom fosters an atmosphere of learning and creativity. Technology doesn’t need to be mechanism for distraction. Embrace it as a method to draw out interests and hobbies that otherwise remain buried when kids simply consume technology instead of using it to create.