School of Fun for Children in Fukushima

by Academy Camp
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School of Fun for Children in Fukushima
School of Fun for Children in Fukushima
School of Fun for Children in Fukushima
School of Fun for Children in Fukushima
School of Fun for Children in Fukushima
School of Fun for Children in Fukushima
School of Fun for Children in Fukushima
School of Fun for Children in Fukushima
School of Fun for Children in Fukushima
School of Fun for Children in Fukushima
School of Fun for Children in Fukushima
School of Fun for Children in Fukushima
School of Fun for Children in Fukushima
School of Fun for Children in Fukushima
School of Fun for Children in Fukushima
School of Fun for Children in Fukushima
School of Fun for Children in Fukushima
School of Fun for Children in Fukushima
School of Fun for Children in Fukushima
School of Fun for Children in Fukushima
School of Fun for Children in Fukushima
School of Fun for Children in Fukushima
School of Fun for Children in Fukushima
School of Fun for Children in Fukushima
School of Fun for Children in Fukushima
School of Fun for Children in Fukushima
School of Fun for Children in Fukushima
Students gathered in a virtual classroom
Students gathered in a virtual classroom

Please find a Japanese version of this report here.

After the success of our first VR (Virtual Reality) camp, we had two weekends in May 2021 to create additional opportunities for fun.

On the first occasion, we had space scientist Prof. Abe for the third time, and we heard more about our moon, watched the launch of the next generation of commercial rockets, climbed (!) on such rockets, floated around the International Space Station, and went to the moon where we will be building our own secret base, all in VR. We spent a luxurious time receiving the professor's rich knowledge of the universe with experiences through our own (avatar) bodies.

On the second occasion, we had a preview of the completed VR world children 3D-painted at our previous camp "The Birth of Planet Academy Camp", now that everyone can move freely in the space by jumping under very small gravitiy and/or using a personal propulsion system. In addition to the children themselves, parents and our staff members were also invited, as well as VR artist KAHUA, who provided the guidance for 3D-painting at the previous camp. Some of us got motion sickness from flying too fast, but we felt it was so cool!

These were test flights of sorts, not just for the space sector, but for pioneering various new kinds of camps that we will apply VR to achieve in the future. The key to this is the sense that children can create their own worlds.

Listening to a story of the moon on a quiet hill
Listening to a story of the moon on a quiet hill
Run to the moon!
Run to the moon!
Kid in disguise, trying to put on the VR headset
Kid in disguise, trying to put on the VR headset
Up and down in the space children have 3D-painted
Up and down in the space children have 3D-painted
We have made this world ourselves
We have made this world ourselves

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Creating her place in the metaverse in her hands
Creating her place in the metaverse in her hands

Please find a Japanese version of this report here.

During the May holidays in Japan, we conducted our first attempt at a 5-day online camp in virtual reality (VR), Academy Camp VR 2021.5 - Birth of the Planet Academy Camp. Since the use of VR headsets is not recommended for elementary school students whose eyes are still developing, we prepared a program for elementary school students to create their favorite places in Minecraft. For junior and senior high school students, we lend VR headsets to those who wish to use them for a long period of time, and decided to create a series of camps on the theme of shaping the world with their own hands (or controllers in them). A total of 18 children participated in the event. The first three days were a practice period to get used to using the tool.

In Minecraft, we prepared two worlds for children. At the end of the program, we had an expo, in which we were amazed at how many buildings the children were able to create in such a short period of time. All of them were very particular and appealing, and when they showed us the inside of their houses, we felt like we were being previewed by a real estate agent. The message from Academy Camp has always been "Be a MAKER, not a VISITOR of the world," so we gave all children who participated in the Minecraft program at the camp the authority to be operators of the two worlds, like this quote by Arthur C. Clarke goes: "ALL THESE WORLDS ARE YOURS. USE THEM TOGETHER. USE THEM IN PEACE."

For the VR program, we invited Prof. Abe, a space science researcher, as we did last year. Following a lecture on the Earth's moon, we moved to a VR "university classroom" for a question and answer session, and then visited various worlds related to space to listen to the professor's explanations. Finally, we took a commemorative photo on the surface of Mars. Also, following the reading of the last part of Arthur C. Clarke's “Childhood’s End" by VR artist KAHUA, everyone expanded their imaginations and 3D-painted in the VR space at will. Then, together with improvisational artist 6-dim+, we challenged ourselves to "One Word" in Zoom, in which each person speaks one word at a time and plays the role of a single narrator. Then, in VR, the participants were divided into groups and challenged to perform a live improvisational play. Strange and exciting worlds unfolded!

At the end of the final day, the camp director received a message from somewhere. "This planet is ending.... the adults have ruined this planet. Let's all escape to another planet!" Then we all jumped through a portal, and found ourselves on an empty world. "This is the Planet Academy Camp. From here on, we can all create our own worlds." That was the closing ceremony of the camp. After everyone had said a few words and shared their impressions, another portal appeared. When we all jumped in, what we had 3D-painted together was recreated as a VR world there. With the determination to become MAKERS, not VISITORS, in their hearts, the children jumped one by one into the different portals that lead to various worlds and set off into the unknown.

One of the children's creations in the voxel world
One of the children's creations in the voxel world
Exploring new worlds
Exploring new worlds
Held improvisation workshops in both Zoom and VR
Held improvisation workshops in both Zoom and VR
3D painting inspired by "Childhood's End"
3D painting inspired by "Childhood's End"
A group photo on Mars
A group photo on Mars

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Checking out from the event but research continues
Checking out from the event but research continues

Please find a Japanese version of this report here.

At the end of December 2020, we gave our final presentations online as a conclusion to "Serious Research", which had continued through the summer, fall, and winter. This event was also streamed live on YouTube.

The aim of the presentations was to create an "Acdemy-Camp-style! conference" where young researchers (children) and adults, including university students who had been involved as staff members in this series of events, can interact with each other through their research.

To realize this, at the beginning of the conference, we used the "storytellers" method of improvisational comedy to weave a funny improvised story, interspersed with lines about our respective research.

After a good laugh, it was time to present our research. Presentations included city planning, flow experience, viscosity of natto (fermented soybeans), removal of toxicity from potatoes, English language learning, geology, sex-determination of giant hornet, playing music by gravity, cashless changing dietary habits, game making, dietary habits of Dimetrodon, controlling avatars by brain waves, and how to buy alcohol at a future shop with a digital ID card only telling your age (selective disclosure). Children, university students, and adult staff also gave presentations.

The "Serious Research" that we have been doing for a long time has come to a close. But the research by the children is still going on. Because it's not over yet!

HELP US LITTLE BY LITTLE

Please support the children of Fukushima and Academy Camp through GlobalGiving's Little by Little Campaign from Monday, March 8, 14:00 to Saturday, March 13, 13:59 Japan time (March 8-12 EST). During this period, if you donate up to $50 to Academy Camp through GlobalGiving, your donation will be matched by 50%. Please help us spread the word about Academy Camp to as many people as possible, little by little.

Some students made recorded presentations
Some students made recorded presentations
Telling about his survey on flow experiences
Telling about his survey on flow experiences
Got her writing published in professional magazine
Got her writing published in professional magazine
Survey on sex-determination system of giant hornet
Survey on sex-determination system of giant hornet

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From Maker Faire Tokyo last year (2019)
From Maker Faire Tokyo last year (2019)

Please find a Japanese version of this report here.

As our previous report explained, our summer - fall - (and now) winter camp activities have gone online as a countermeasure to COVID-19 pandemic, following our spring activities. We have named the series of activities from this summer "Academy Camp-style! Serious Research", consisting of plenary (bi-)weekly online meetings and continuing conversations/research consultations with an online chat tool.

Here is another mid-term, work-in-progress report from the young researchers whose ages range from 10 to 18. We participated in "Maker Faire Tokyo", a celebration of "Makers", in Tokyo until the last year, but this year we joined the wonderful event online, and we had a lot of fun viewing the exhibition together via Twitter. As makers themselves, one of the young researchers is making a game in which a paleontological animal Dimetrodon eats sharks, another is trying to control his avatar in 3D space with brain waves, and yet another is trying to get the best sustainable plan through classifying the business models of handling donations on blockchain. Activities of others include striving to get rid of the potato poison, planning for sustainable town development, looking for the best way to learn a second language, studies on the genes and behaviors of hornets, building a bartering mechanism, and acquisition of practical knowledge of the flow experience.

We are planning to hold a presentation session in December, and we aim to make it an Academy Camp-style conference where the young researchers plus university students and alike involved as the staff members of this series of events can interact with one other through their research. We hope that it will be an emergent opportunity, because research is not an individual but a community activity from beginning.

PLEASE HELP US ON #GivingTuesday

Please give us on Tuesday, December 1, 2020 ET! (Eastern Time) That is, from 14:00 on Tuesday, Dec 1 to 13:59 on Wednesday, Dec 2 JST! (Japan Standard Time) GlobalGiving is providing $1,000,000 incentive fund for donations that will be distributed proportionally to participating projects, including Academy Camp, based on the final fundraising totals during the period. Every dollar you donate plus the distributed fund go toward our cause, making your contribution even more impactful. Please take advantage of this great opportunity to support our community, children of Fukushima, children of all Japan and Academy Camp.

We are distributing Chromebooks to make it easier for children who don't have a computer of their own to participate in online activities, and more funds are needed to prepare the environments for more children. We are also thinking of gradually reopening the physical camps, and we need funds to do so as well.

Young researcher participates in a meeting
Young researcher participates in a meeting
Contemplating the flow experience w/ street piano
Contemplating the flow experience w/ street piano
Research is a community activity from beginning
Research is a community activity from beginning

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She is conducting a research on potatoes
She is conducting a research on potatoes

Please find a Japanese version of this report here.

Our summer and fall camp activities have gone online as a countermeasure to COVID-19 pandemic. We have named the series of activities "Serious Research", consisting of a plenary online meeting every Sunday and continuing conversations with an online chat tool.

The series will probably continue throughout this year, but here is a mid-term report to let you know just some of the research topics the children are working on: A girl wants to find out about vegetable breeding to get rid of toxins in potatoes. A boy is investigating the differences in his brain waves when he is engaged in different intellectual activities (learning math or English, for example). A girl wants to build a new donation service using blockchain. A boy who is interested in the diet of a paleontological animal called dimetrodon tries to recreate an animated dimetrodon eating a shark.

Our staff and mentors are very excited to see how these studies will progress. At each plenary meeting, we also learn about the attitude of science, the spirit of skepticism and verification, how the results of science are shared and followed up on, and what can be considered fake science.

HELP US LITTLE BY LITTLE

Here is another important announcement! GlobalGiving has launched a "Little by Little" campaign from Sept.14 9:00am to Sept.18 11:59pm EDT (Sept.14 22:00 to Sept.19 12:59 JST), where your donations up to $50 per person will be matched 50%, and there is no limit with the matching funds! We would be very happy if you could take this great opportunity to support children not only in Fukushima, but any children with something to explore, and Academy Camp.

Working on the world's forefront knowledge
Working on the world's forefront knowledge
Brainwave, blockchain, young scientists keep going
Brainwave, blockchain, young scientists keep going
And what did dimetrodons eat, again?
And what did dimetrodons eat, again?
We meet every week, but we explore every day
We meet every week, but we explore every day

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Organization Information

Academy Camp

Location: Fujisawa, Kanagawa - Japan
Website:
Facebook: Facebook Page
Twitter: @academy_camp
Project Leader:
Kenji Saito
Fujisawa, Kanagawa Japan
$161,073 raised of $200,000 goal
 
1,164 donations
$38,927 to go
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