Minecraft Information

Update: See the research article written about our program by clicking here.



What is it?

Minecraft is an immersive digital 3D environment now considered one of the most popular in the world. The creative aspects of Minecraft allow participants to build constructions out of cubes with little restriction. Other activities include exploration, gathering resources, crafting, farming, and even creating circuits. Minecraft is considered a “sandbox” environment, which reflects the creativity that can spawn from within the software.

The endless and immersive landscapes and resources available make the scope of what’s possible in the digital environment quite incredible. It is extremely well-received by school kids, as well as adults – myself included.  Quick surveys of my classes indicate at least a third of the students already have Minecraft, or have used it before.

Minecraft is rated by the Entertainment Software Rating Board (ESRB) as E(+10) for everyone over 10 years old (current as of April, 2015). Since its origin on the PC platform, it has been made available on phones, tablets and consoles. Microsoft recently purchased the software for $2.5 Billion. For some time now, an educational edition of the software “MinecraftEDU” has been available for teachers, which includes additional tools to streamline learning.

Use in the classroom

I wish to use Minecraft as an immersive environment to engage my students in the classroom. Students would connect to a local network server so they can interact in the same world together in real time and collaborate to solve problems. The students would be guided by myself who will generally be included in the software environment, and have more abilities to manage the environment.

Technical Requirements

Student laptops will be sufficiently capable of operating Minecraft. The software will either be deployed automatically by the ICT staff, or by myself manually. Note: An external mouse is highly recommended.

Lesson Examples

Below are some lessons which provide ideas of how Minecraft simulations can be applied directly to the Australian Curriculum, focusing on Earth Sciences, which is where I will initially apply the product.

Australian Curriculum Example 1

Scientific Understanding: Representing the stages in the formation of igneous, metamorphic and sedimentary rocks, including indications of timescales involved
  • Locate the various environments where different types of rocks are formed.
  • Identify regions of the virtual world (oceans, mountains, volcanos, underwater caves) and describe the processes that formed them

Australian Curriculum Example 2

Scientific Understanding: Recognising that some rocks and minerals, such as ores, provide valuable resources
  • List the different types of ore found in Minecraft and what they are used for (different types of ore are used for different purposes e.g. copper used in making electrical wires)
  • Describe the process of making a sword from start to finish in Minecraft (finding ore, mining ore, smelting the ore to extract metal, crafting metal into sword).
  • Compare this process to how it is done in real life.

Australian Curriculum Example 3

Science as a Human Endeavour: Describing how technologies have been applied to modern mining techniques to improve yields and sustainability
  • Record how much gold ore you can mine using a stone pickaxe, iron pickaxe, diamond pickaxe in 10 minutes.
  • Repeat this process using a mining well and then again with a quarry (running at full speed).
  • Which method had the best yield?
  • Which method had the least/most impact on the environment? Why?
  • Which method is the most sustainable? Or how could you improve the methods to make them more sustainable while still being cost effective?

Other Science Topics:

  • Biology: Build a model of a human digestive system and label the components using Minecraft
  • Earth  Sciences: Explore the Earth for a rare artefact (a giant skeleton). Work as a team to extract the fossils safely.
  • Programming/IT: Use red-stone circuits to explore the properties or AND and OR logic gates. Build a simple conditional switch.
  • Music/Programming: Write a musical number with tone boxes and red-stone circuits.
  • Physics: Calculate the velocity of your character when walking/running
The software can also be used in several other subject areas such as Maths (probability, logic, etc) and HASS (replicas of famous buildings, architecture).

How is it different to traditional teaching methods?

Minecraft allows students to experience an immersive simulation of real life processes, it allows them to do things they can’t do in real life (e.g. build a nuclear power plant, mine for gold). As a teacher you can draw on these virtual experiences to build on the learning objectives.

Minecraft is extremely open and limitless, it allows students creativity to shine as anything is possible. It makes it easy to differentiate learning as students can move at their own pace and it is easy to keep the experience challenging for more gifted students. 
In most cases, Minecraft activities require collaboration between students. This powerful tool can facilitate peer learning in a social atmosphere.

Our kids enjoy Minecraft – why not use it to engage them in some of our topics?

Costing

There will be no cost to parents for the Minecraft software.

Minecraft at Home

All of the worlds and lessons are stored on a server at school, so students will not be assigned any work on Minecraft outside of the classroom. Any time spent on the game at home is purely recreational.

Additional Information

Should you require any further information, please email me.