We sometimes get questions about why we teach Minecraft in our classes. Even students sometimes ask us how Minecraft can be educational!
There is so much that students can learn from playing games like Minecraft, and they have loads of fun while they’re doing it! Kids can use their problem-solving, self-direction, and collaboration skills while playing Minecraft. Not only that, but they also learn STEM skills like engineering while playing and building in the game, which is one of the reasons why we love to use it at STEM Minds. Many students already have lots of experience playing Minecraft at home. So its popularity ensures that students are immediately engaged when we say we’re going to be working with Minecraft in class.
Minecraft allows students to be creative. In this world, students can build ANYTHING they can imagine! They can re-create places they know from the real world or fictional worlds from books and movies. Or they can create places completely new! The possibilities are literally endless for creation. If you can imagine it, then you can build it!
Minecraft is also unique in that there is no way to “win” the game. Players must decide for themselves what they want to get out of their time in the game. Do they want to build their dream house? Collect resources? Do they want to play in survival mode and fight enemies while rationing supplies? It’s entirely up to them!
When students play Minecraft together, especially in a classroom as they do at STEM Minds, they pool resources, build structures, trade tips and help each other and cooperate to achieve their goals. Kids can then take these social skills and apply them to their lives off the computer.
Minecraft teaches more than just these important social skills. Kids can even learn how to code! One incredible aspect of Minecraft is how customizable it can be. Students can customize the game is through modding. Modding involves altering the original programming code of the game and can be used by players to enhance the game. Designing mods involves learning Java, the programming language in which Minecraft was built. As students work to improve the game environment, they can even be learning a coding language!
Bringing Minecraft to the classroom can be a scary prospect if you have never played before. But never fear! Even if you aren’t an expert, it is very likely that at least one of your students is an expert! There is so much we can learn from our students in any subject, and when we are struggling with learning something new like Minecraft, they can be such a huge help to get started! Your students can be an excellent resource to get started. There are also lots of tutorials on YouTube, or books in your local library that can help you learn how to play so you can best support your students.
There is a large and growing community of educators who are using Minecraft to support learning in the classroom. There is even an online forum designed to help educators who are using Minecraft in their classroom!
While playing Minecraft, students have a lot of agency to create what they want and play the game how they want. It does not need to be perfectly teacher directed, you can give your students a challenge and stand back and watch as they work together to complete it. It can even be better when us teachers step back and let the students start to take control themselves and work as a team!
Whether kids are learning social skills like collaboration and problem-solving, or learning the principles of Engineering and Coding with Java, there are many ways that Minecraft can be used in the classroom as a fun way to learn. The students will be so busy having fun, they’ll barely notice that they’re also learning STEM skills!
If you’re looking for ways to get started in your own classroom, or to use as an educational tool at home, the Minecraft website even has pre-made lessons to help you get started!