On Thursday, Mayor Kenney and Philadelphia School Superintendent William R. Hite Jr. announced the Block by Block Party, a partnership among the city, the School District, Public Citizens for Children and Youth (PCCY), and the University of the Sciences.
And then they played some Minecraft.
The Block by Block Party will bring 1,500 children to USciences on Sept. 16 and 17 to play the game in which children build their own worlds and go on adventures. Tickets are $35 for gamers and $20 for those who just want to attend the block party, where there will be vendors, arts, crafts, and scientific demonstrations.
"This event will raise funds for a new grant program to bring innovative technology to district schools, as well as support PCCY," Hite said at the announcement.
Kenney spoke about the popularity of the game among his favorite constituents, children.
"Educators across the country and worldwide are noticing that Minecraft has the power to help our kids learn," he said. "They learn things like natural sciences, construction skills, math, problem solving, and, the best of all, they explore their own creativity."
In talking about the city's commitment to education, the mayor also mentioned the opening of two community schools in the city, adding as an aside: "If we get rid of this stupid lawsuit, we could open more."
He was referring to an ongoing suit aimed at stopping the city's tax on sweetened beverages, which Kenney intends to use to fund community schools.
About 10 children were at the event to teach Kenney and Hite how to play Minecraft.
"I love it. It's awesome," said Autumn Smith, 12, about the game. "You get to create anything you want to, and like just like go around and do anything."
She was one of several students who showed the mayor and Hite how to place the blocks and make their characters fly and sneak around.
"It was fun helping him," Smith said of her time working with the mayor.
After the announcement, Hite said that he'd be able to use his new Minecraft skills when playing the game with his 5-year-old grandson. He also reinforced the things that children learn from playing the game.
"The fact they are building and constructing and coding and thinking and problem solving all simultaneously is really important. … They classify this as gaming, and I classify it as learning," he said.