Creating Learning Opportunities for Exploration and Risk Taking

Gina Grant in her own words | A Network50 Spotlight

By Gina Grant

Gina Grant is a connector noun 1. a person or thing that connects.

I am passionate about connecting individuals to one another, organizations to strong partnerships, students to learning opportunities, educators to resources and parents or caring adults to high quality programs for youth. As the mother of three phenomenal kids Madison, Miles and Marli who attend three different school life is FUN and hectic. I am also the proud owner of a 2 year old rescue dog named Blaze.

As an urban educator I have almost 20 years of experience in STEAM (science, technology, engineering, art and mathematics) education. My mission is to advocate for equity, access and increased opportunities for girls and underrepresented youth.

Have you ever wondered why so many youth are driven to the game of Minecraft? Me too, as the parent of an 11 year old son I’ve witnessed first hand the Minecraft frenzy. I also understand the resistance and struggle that ensues between adults and youth in plenty of households regarding the use of video games — Minecraft in particular. For adults and parents the appeal for Minecraft isn’t always understood especially when you consider that the graphics resembles those of our childhood & early video games. I believe the appeal is due to the fact that it’s a sandbox game that allows for open-ended play.

Minecraft has no user guide, manual or rules. In Minecraft youth create their own rules. In creative mode they build, fly, collaborate as a team; and fight zombies, skeletons and spiders in survival mode. But really they’re also able to take an adventure or journey and explore new spaces and places — ultimately involving a lot of creativity and imagination. Youth can persist and accomplish some really complicated tasks from computational thinking to problem based learning as well as coding. Sometimes all this learning is happening and youth are not even aware what they’re doing.

I am passionate about using the Internet, digital tools and games to create learning opportunities for exploration and risk taking. I use Minecraft to facilitate design-thinking challenges, build 21st century skill and knowledge in STEAM fields and develop empathy thru civic engagement.

Why Design Matters: Minecraft & Architecture, Gina Grant with Chicago Middle School Students

Gina Grant is an educator and Senior Manager of Digital Engagement at the Chicago Architecture Foundation. She has been active in the internet health movement as an invaluable Hive Chicago member. She is a member of our first cohort of “Network50.”

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