When you think video games, what comes to mind? Italian brothers hopping through imaginary landscapes, collecting coins to save a princess? Fast cars speeding around a racetrack filled with obstacles like mud pits and moguls? How about a game that lets the user build an entire world, block by block, complete with farms equipped with functioning irrigation systems? With MinecraftEdu, students create their own fun instead of relying on a prepackaged interpretation of fun. Imagination, ingenuity and collaboration skills are all put to test as students work to develop a thriving, functioning world all their own.
The commercial version of Minecraft was first developed in 2009 by an independent programmer in Sweden named Markus Persson. The full version of the game was released by the company Mojang on November 18, 2011. Since its inception the game has boomed in popularity, with over 20 million copies sold to date. Minecraft is a three-dimensional, large-world game that allows players creative control over the environment and what happens in it. There are two primary ways to play, either in survival mode or creative mode. In survival mode players must mine to gather raw materials to use to craft and build, while maintaining their health and protecting themselves against monsters. In creative mode there is no threat to the player, and he or she can make use of the materials without having to mine and craft them first.
|"The implementation of MinecraftEdu at Milwaukee Montessori allows students to play together safely in a monitored environment by confining students to our local server for multi-player games."
One reason for the Minecraft’s popularity is the ability for more than one person to be in a world at the same time. Multiple players can work together in the same game to collaborate, allowing complex and detailed structures to be realized very quickly. To be in the same world, players connect to the same server over the Internet. The open nature of the commercial version of Minecraft allows anyone with a computer to set up a server for play without any restrictions on access or content. The implementation of MinecraftEdu at Milwaukee Montessori School allows students to play together safely in a monitored environment by confining students to our local server for multi-player games. Students can also play by themselves at home as a single player, but without the option to connect to a server through the Internet.
There are approximately 100 schools worldwide currently using MinecraftEdu, and the number is rapidly expanding as schools learn how to take advantage of the game. At Milwaukee Montessori School the game is being used in technology to orient students to three-dimensional space and provide a platform for rendering objects that can be brought into the physical world using our 3D printer. In Upper Elementary students are using MinecraftEdu to develop a virtual timeline and construct the major architectural features of Ancient Rome. Around the world the game is being used to teach math, science, conservation, electronics, engineering and more. Pepperdine University has recently developed an engineering class using Minecraft to teach basic circuitry. Because it is an open space without limits, the possibilities for using Minecraft in education are endless.
Implemented just over a month ago, students at MMS are clearly enjoying the new addition to our program. Seventh grader Avani Y. says she thinks MinecraftEdu is “a great way for students to work together and use their imaginations to build things. It also provides [us] with necessary skills in life such as teamwork, originality, basic building knowledge and many different technical abilities.”
|"Because it is an open space without limits, the possibilities for using Minecraft in education are endless."
MMS received a grant to implement MinecraftEdu in conjunction with The World Peace Game (learn more about the Peace Game here). While playing The World Peace Game in the physical world, students will recreate it in the virtual world of MinecraftEdu. Once the virtual version of The World Peace Game is operational, students will use the 3D printer to bring characters and features from the virtual world into the physical world. Those figures will be placed on the game board being used to play The World Peace Game in the classroom, thus forging the tie between both virtual and physical worlds – both of which are “real worlds” at MMS.
Interested in learning more about MinecraftEdu? Click here.