Any mention of kids and computer games in the same breath tends to conjure up images of zombies, gore, and digital violence—not to mention way too much time spent in isolation. The Minecraft Club at Bristol Public Library offers a different experience.
Starting in October, the library is offering a non-violent cooperative gaming experience with MinecraftEdu—a specialized mode of the hugely popular building game designed for educational use.
During a pilot program this summer, which filled up quickly, Margaret Mennone of the Children’s Department and Computer Lab Supervisor Chris Soper guided two groups of 9-12 year-olds through mining materials and completing their building objectives using the MinecraftEdu game mode.
“MinecraftEdu blends “Creative” and” Survival” modes, so players need to mine their own materials, but they can’t die or be attacked,” said Mennone in a press release from the library. The fall sessions of the club will include challenges suggested by the kids themselves at the end of the summer.
The release said Mennone and Soper saw that the Darien Library started a program and thought the idea would work in Bristol as well. The release said both agree that the Minecraft Club provides 9 to 12 year-old with a high interest/high demand option for using the library. The software licenses were purchased by the Friends of the Bristol Public Library at a discounted rate, so club members do not need to purchase their own.
Both pilot sessions held during the summer filled up quickly, said the library’s news release.
“The kids learn cooperative skills in solving challenges and have a positive fun experience at the library” Soper said.
“The best things about the program are the enthusiasm of the kids who participate and watching kids from different schools and backgrounds come together as a team over a common interest. They knew the game, but learned to know each other” said Mennone in the press release.
Youths from several Bristol schools and homeschoolers participated in the pilot program.
There are two five-week Minecraft Club sessions planned for the fall. The first session will run Oct. 7 to Nov. 4. The second session will run Nov. 18 to Dec. 16. Both sessions will meet on Tuesdays at 5:30 p.m. in the library Computer Lab.
Registration is required and is currently underway.
Youth who participated in the summer Minecraft Club and attended three or more sessions are asked to wait until September 30 to register in order to give other youth a chance to participate.
“We can only take 17 kids in a session,” explains Mennone, “and there were 26 kids on the waiting list after we maxed out.”
More information about the Minecraft Club at Bristol Public Library is available at the library or by calling (860) 584-7787 x 2021.
For a glimpse of what club members have been doing visit the library’s Minecraft blog: www.bplminecraftclub.blogspot.com.