Geek Out and Learn in the Denver Pop Culture Classroom

Kids can try their hand at all sorts of geeky goodness in Denver Pop Culture Classroom workshops.
Kids can try their hand at all sorts of geeky goodness in Denver Pop Culture Classroom workshops. YouTube

Denver Pop Culture Classroom is what the folks behind Denver Pop Culture Con do the other 51 weeks of the year.

Pop Culture Classroom was started as Comic Book Classroom in 2010, alongside what was then the Denver Comic Con, by Charlie LaGreca (now running DiNK), Frank Romero and David and Kevin Vinson. All were fans of the comic as art form and sought to marry a love for community, learning and fandom at a central event — the convention — and throughout the year in the classroom. The goal: "enhancing and improving students' learning experience through the use of comic book media."

The Classroom actually predates the Con, hosting its first workshop in late 2011, nearly a year before the first Denver Comic Con debuted in 2012. And just as Denver Comic Con went through a period of re-focus and re-dubbing, so did the Classroom, taking on the current moniker of Pop Culture Classroom in 2014.

But the mission has largely remained the same, even as it's grown more inclusive.

"We want to stress that Pop Culture Classroom and the Pop Culture Con are for everyone," says marketing manager Chris Burley. "I like to tell folks: You belong here, no matter who you are. With comics, authors, artists, gaming, celebrities and more, there's something for any pop-culture fan."

Still, despite Pop Culture Classroom's massive presence at the convention itself (it takes up significant and purposefully conspicuous real estate on the con floor every year), fans of the Con might not know much about what it does outside the walls of the Colorado Convention Center. And it’s an effort that deserves mention — especially for fans.

The nonprofit's mission statement is all about inspiring a love of learning, an increase in literacy, a celebration of diversity, and the building of community through “the tools of popular culture and the power of self-expression.”

These lofty goals aren’t just talk, as the following DPCC Spring schedule of events helps to prove. And what follows is only a taste of what the organization does for kids and the community.

click to enlarge TEAGUE BOHLEN
Teague Bohlen
  • 2/5, 4:30 to 6:30 p.m.: Taming the Demogorgon: Dungeons and Dragons 101
  • 2/8, 10 a.m. to noon: Building Your YouTube Brand
  • 2/10, 4:30 to 6:30 p.m.: Drawing for Comics 101
  • 2/14, 5 to 8 p.m.: Nerd Out Night: Sonic the Hedgehog
  • 2/22, 10 a.m. to noon: Spring into Cosplay: Floral Crowns and Makeup
  • 2/24, 4:30 to 6:30 p.m.: World-Building for Sci-Fi and Fantasy
  • 2/28, 5 to 8 p.m.: Family Game Night
  • 3/4, 4:30 to 6:30 p.m.: Be a Better Dungeon Master
  • 3/9, 4:30 to 6:30 p.m.: Creating and Publishing Web Comics
  • 3/13, 5 to 8 p.m.: Nerd Out Night: Star Trek: The Next Generation
  • 3/21, 10 a.m. to noon: Re-purposing Unusual Materials for Cosplay
  • 3/23, 4:30 to 6:30 p.m.: Creating Comics: Layout and Lettering
  • 3/27, 5 to 8 p.m.: Classic Video Game Night
  • 4/6, 4:30 to 6:30 p.m.: Designing Cyberpunk (Ages 13+ or Parent Required)
  • 4/10, 5 to 8 p.m.: Nerd Out Night: Bill and Ted’s Excellent Adventure
  • 4/15, 4:30 to 6:30 p.m.: World Building for Horror and Zombie Games (Ages 18+ or Parent Required)
  • 4/18, 10 a.m. to noon: Prep Your Denver Pop Culture Con Cosplay
  • 4/20, 4:30 to 6:30 p.m.: Manga Madness: Drawing for Manga
  • 4/24, 5 to 8 p.m.: Family Game Night
  • 5/6, 4:30 to 6:30 p.m.: Painting RPG Minis
  • 5/9, 10 a.m. to noon: Creating Fantastic Fan Art
  • 5/15, 5 to 8 p.m.: Mystery Box Board Game Design Challenge
  • 5/23, 10 a.m. to noon: Getting Into Voice Acting
  • 5/29, 5 to 8 p.m.: Family Game Night
Events range in cost from free to $10, or you can join the Classroom Clubhouse for the spring and get every single wonderful workshop for only $100. All events happen at the Pop Culture Classroom location at 2760 West Fifth Avenue in Denver and are designed for kids eight and up unless otherwise noted.

For more information, or to see how your own kids might get involved in the awesome stuff available to them this spring and beyond, bookmark the Pop Culture Classroom website.
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Teague Bohlen is a writer, novelist and professor at the University of Colorado Denver. His first novel, The Pull of the Earth, won the Colorado Book Award for Literary Fiction in 2007; his textbook The Snarktastic Guide to College Success came out in 2014. His new collection of flash fiction, Flatland, is available now.
Contact: Teague Bohlen