Monday, February 23, 2015

Minecraft - the Game

     Our children have been playing the game Minecraft.  I typically try to limit time on their electronics, but I was impressed when I found this article about the educational benefits of them playing this game.  Here is the review, taken from The Old Schoolhouse Magazine.

Why buy?

LearnToMod is the perfect way to channel your child's passion for Minecraft towards a skill that they can nurture and develop as they grow up. Professions in computer science are not only some of the highest paying jobs out there, they are also some of the highest satisfaction jobs! Because computer science isn't being taught in most schools, these jobs are ripe for the taking.

What is included?

Tutorials, videos, and puzzles guide students through basic and complex mod building; soon students will be dreaming up and creating their own mods from scratch. Today's purchase will give your student access to the LearnToMod software and their own private Minecraft for 1 year.
Modding Studio
The studio is where you bring your ideas to life with code. It's where you write your mods. You get to choose from two powerful programming languages. You can even share your code with others and remix code that others have written.
Private Server
Test your mods on a private server. Invite friends to play too. You control everything about your server: The weather, the time of day, who's banned and who's not. You can install texture packs. And, of course, you can mod it with mods you've written.
Even if you've never coded before, you can learn to mod. We have hundreds of video lessons, puzzles, and quizzes to teach you. Unlock cool badge and start leveling-up as a coder. Soon you'll be designing and coding multi-player mini-games of your own."

Friday, February 6, 2015

NY Teen Tyler Madoff Killed While Kayaking In Hawaii; Family Blames Colorado Tour Group

Parents, beware of who, and where, your children are with.

HONOLULU (AP) — Lawyers for the family of a New York teen killed during a kayak excursion in Hawaii last year said Tuesday that the trip's organizers didn't properly vet or train its leader.

Lawyers for the family of Tyler Madoff, 15, said Tuesday in federal court in Hawaii that Bold Earth Teen Adventures ignored or didn't know about marijuana and alcohol use by trip leader Andrew Mork, and ignored safety rules for a state park on Hawaii's Big Island where Madoff died when he was swept out to sea.

"This young man never, ever, ever should have been in charge of children," said Loretta Sheehan, an attorney for Tyler's father, Michael Madoff.

Lawyers for Mork and Colorado-based Bold Earth Teen Adventures declined to comment to The Associated Press after the court hearing in Honolulu.

The details surfaced as attorneys argued whether potential punitive damages in the wrongful death lawsuit would be guided by Hawaii or Colorado laws.

U.S. District Judge Susan Oki Mollway has already ruled twice this year that the case must move forward in Hawaii and not in the state where Bold Earth is based. She said she would likely decide by next week on whether the case would be governed by Hawaii laws on punitive damages, which are less favorable for defendants than in Colorado.

"What happens if every company that offers recreational activity in Hawaii decided to incorporate in Colorado and incorporate at least some activities in Hawaii," Mollway said.

Douglas Stevens, a lawyer for Bold Earth, said Madoff's family agreed in their contract arranging the trip that issues would be resolved under Colorado law. He said the language was clear in the contract.
Mollway previously rejected a similar argument the company made for moving the case, saying the contract's clause was not enforceable.

Sheehan said Tuesday that Bold Earth didn't perform a proper background check on Mork, which would have found three marijuana-related convictions. She said Mork was also kicked out of a bar on the Big Island while there for a previous trip for the company in 2011.

Sheehan said that while on the excursion, the group took too many people and stayed too long in the park, and didn't know about warnings of high surf.

A Letter from a Reader

A letter from our reader...

     Hi Kelly:

I love your blog -- your post about your child, Samuel, was simply beautiful. It's so brave of you to share your story with us.

As parents, our number one priority is always the safety of our children. When they're at school or camp, or anywhere outside of the home, we're forced to trust them in the care of others. I recently came across this story about a high school boy on a travel excursion with Bold Earth, who was swept out to sea and died when the tour guides ignored warnings about the area. You can read more about this tragedy here:

I don't have a blog of my own, but as a reader of so many parenting blogs, I think it's really important to spread awareness of incidents like this that can easily occur to any family during travel. I hope you'll share this story with your readers so they can think twice before sending their children on these types of trips.