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STEM camp: More than just games
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Parker Curtis gets ready to do a demo of his actual working Mindcraft-type copy machine. - photo by VINCE REMBUILAT/ The Bulletin
Sean Rutter was teeming with enthusiasm Wednesday during his ongoing efforts of developing the “City of the Future.”
That was the name of the Manteca Unified STEM Summer Camp held at M.E.L.S Garage, a re-purposed space at the district complex.
M.E.L.S. is an acronym about connecting Manufacturing & Engineering to Learning through STEM (Science Technology Engineering and Math).
All of the STEM elements were used in the four-day Minecraft video design sessions, according to camp instructor Richard Johnson.
“We used math to calculate and measure (on our buildings), technology to build our city on computers, and engineering to do the actual building,” he said.
Johnson, who is a first-year STEM Summer Camp instructor, just finished teaching the Special Day Class at Mossdale Elementary School. He’ll be doing likewise in the fall but only at Veritas Elementary School.
“I used Minecraft as a teaching tool for my students at Mossdale,” Johnson said.
Mindcraft is a sandbox video game that allows players to choose what, when, and how they want to approach the available content.
Students at the MUSD summer session used their creativity while incorporating STEM in constructing their virtual city equipped with roads and infrastructure, Johnson noted.
Most in his capacity-filled class – all 20 slots exclusively for fifth- and sixth- grade students of the district were quickly filled – were familiar with the Minecraft video games.
Rutter, who is in incoming fifth grader at McParland Elementary School, and his group developed their city equipped with a movie theater with a ladder leading to the top floor, buildings with working elevators, and a bakery that offers fresh bread at $2 a loaf.
They even designed a house with a swimming pool underneath the balcony.
Curtis Parker, who also attends McParland – he’s also a fifth grader – developed a functioning printer while using the Minecraft program.
Each student was provided with a USB flash drive, allowing him or her to take the summer project home to download on to a computer.
Some admitted that they would otherwise be home on a computer if they weren’t enrolled in the summer camp.
Johnson, who also developed a Minecraft scale of the MUSD district office, was thrilled to see these youngsters engaged in his classroom, having fun while learning through STEM.

To contact reporter Vince Rembulat, e-mail