Tonawanda News — The North Tonawanda Library is putting a $2,000 grant from the East Hill Foundation to good use, creating programs to help encourage creativity and teamwork in teens.
The grant, which the library applied for in the fall, will be used to purchase six new laptops for kids to use at the library after school. The hook is that all the computers will have the popular game Minecraft installed on them.
“(Minecraft) is a virtual world where you can build pretty much anything,” said Library Director Britt White. “You interact with others and do collaborative work using special skills. It’s something popular and this is an opportunity to experience it.
“It will also give kids something they can do after school, after having sat in a classroom all day. It’s something they can enjoy that will occupy their time without them having to be as engaged as they would be in a classroom.”
White noted that the library will implement both passive and organized “in-house” programming to accompany the games. This allows teens to have free play time, as well as instructional time learning how the game can be used to develop real-world skills.
“I’ll start by teaching them the basics,” said Librarian Kelly Menzel, who organized the idea. “In the beginning it will be about collaborative learning, kids will learn social and creative skills that they might not be getting in school, with all the art programs that have been cut.
“Later on I’m hoping to have them learn to modify the game using coding. Knowing how the back of the game works would be good for anyone interested in a tech career.”
Parents may wonder why they’d want their child to go the library to play video games, but Menzel describes Minecraft as more than just a video game.