Monday, June 13, 2016

Minecrafts Nights at BrainStorm STEM Eduction in Irvine

Disclosure: We were invited as guests of BrainStorm STEM Education to attend Minecraft Night. All opinions are my own.

 I had seen BrainStorm STEM Education as the hosts of workshops in the IPSF booklets
that come home each semester, but I hadn't looked into them and I definitely didn't know
what STEM stood for. So, when we were given the opportunity to check out BrainStorm
and have the kids attend Minecraft Night, I hopped on the computer to find out all about
this place and why it was so popular with parents from all over Orange County.
I found out that STEM stands for Science, Technology, Engineering and Mathematics
and that BrainStorm is a tech-based academy for children. It was started by film engineer
Darren Jones as a place where cutting-edge STEM curriculum could be taught to close the
gap in the global STEM crisis that leaves US students ranked 26th in math and science.

All I had to do was say "Mincraft" and JT was on board for Minecraft Night at BrainStorm.
He loves playing the PC version and complains that he doesn't have enough computer time
during the school year to figure out more things about Minecraft like mods and skins.
Isabella was a little bit nervous about going, since she's never actually played Minecraft,
just watched over his shoulder as JT plays. But I convinced her that it would be a fun night
of Minecraft, pizza and a movie.

Once we stepped into BrainStorm the kids were totally lost to me. I could have faded 
away into the night, never to be seen again, and they would have been perfectly content
to live at the place of computers, LEGOs, 3-D printing machines, and a vending machine
for the rest of their lives. I have to agree that all the LEGOs and bright colors are very
inviting and make you want to sit down and make something. The staff was helpful and very
knowledgeable and able to answer all of my questions about BrainStorm, STEM, and why
Minecraft is a good vehicle for making STEM education accessible to kids.

The kids got right to work checking out the computer and finding out what was going to
be happening at Minecraft Night, while I got a tour of BrainStorm and found a little bit more
of what they are all about. I found out that Girl Scouts and Boy Scouts can earn merit badges
through one day workshops at BrainStorm. I learned the BrainStorm has LEGO robotics
teams that compete in robotic competitions. And that you can have a Minecraft birthday party
at BrainStorm with all your best buddies. Plus, the kids can learn how to create and print with
a 3-D printer and bring their Minecraft creations to life.

I was really impressed with the location, the venue and the staff at Brainstorm. The kids
were there on a Saturday for Minecraft Night, so the group was smaller than their
Friday nights, since they just added Saturday evenings due to the Friday night popularity.
The Friday night before we were there they had a big group of 30 or so. They have kids
that come from all over Orange County to play and enjoy a night with friends.

There is a large screen that projects the Minecraft world, so all the kids can see what is 
going on with the game. Then, when it's time for the movie to start, after the the team games
are done, then they've got a big screen to enjoy the movie. Isabella said what she liked most
about BrainStorm was that the staff was nice and helped her if she needed it and that she
was allowed to walk around and look at all the LEGO models and no one even got mad.
JT said he liked playing Minecraft with kids that know a lot and learning new things from 
them and the BrainStorm staff.

I really enjoyed checking out all the LEGOs and watching the kids have fun figuring out 
the Minecraft world and games. I like that for $35 per child you not only got a date night
out, but your kids were learning new skills, meeting new kids, and having fun. The staff said
they have kids that come 1-2 times a month and really get to know one another and have a 
great time making friends and learning at the same time while mom and dad are having a night

The kids were not thrilled when I showed up at 9:30 and broke up the party. They were
watching a movie, finishing up their pizza, and playing around on Minecraft on their own.
They both talked non-stop on the way home about all the cool things they learned,
saw, experienced, and ate! They begged to be able to go back soon and invite their
friends to come with them and join in the fun.

Minecraft Nights are held Fridays and Saturdays from 6:30 to 9:30PM at the
BrainStorm brick and mortar location at 5430 Trabuco Road, Suite 150 in Irvine.
Now is a great time to try a Minecraft Night and find out more about their summer
camps and enrichment programs. I know that JT wants to try one of the more
in-depth Minecraft classes this summer.

Do you know a child that would love BrainStorm STEM Education Minecraft Nights like my kids did?



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