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How Minecraft is helping kids learn code one block at a time

Using the thousands of mods available, Minecraft can also be used to teach subjects other than programming. Rather than problem solving, it can be tailored to foster creativity, and tasks can be designed to be collaborative rather than carried out alone.

"The great thing about Minecraft is that it's a tool you can use in any subject so long as you have the imagination," says Chambers, adding that multiple subjects can even be taught simultaneously. "Some mods are educational, while others are specifically for programming and allow you to introduce students to things such as javascript, braces and syntax."

To dig deeper into Minecraft's educational potential beyond programming, Chambers outlined a series of ways that the game can be used to teach a range of different subjects.

Modding

History

"In a history lesson you can get students to design and dig war trenches, and then start talking about what life must have been like down there for those people. Teach them the terminology about the Somme, what might have been there, and where the sandbags might have gone."

Mathematics

"In maths lessons, some students might need to build a house. You could give them a challenge such as how many blocks they will need to do that. Give them the measurements of each block and tell them how many planks of wood they will need. Suggest some mathematical equations to get them thinking about how many blocks they will need to build a house that was 5 x 5 — and you don't have to stop there.

Geography

"I've seen some students who have used Minecraft mods with javascript to make a map of the world, so you could challenge your students to make maps for your lessons. Throw in biology by asking them to tunnel into the land and find different objects in the the digestive system that you've placed there."

Science

"Students have to craft things and actually go and find the physical materials to make things they want in their world. That gives them the confidence to say they've created things such as a box to store extra items in, which can be really engaging for them. There's a really scientific element to it in knowing which materials to collect, so if they want to make glass for their house or any type of building, they need to know if they've got enough sand to put in a furnace to make glass windows."

Creative writing

"You can encourage creative writing by getting students to develop a world and then describe to them what's happening. It could be used for the basis of a story, or you could develop a world and get them to describe what they see – use it as a stimulus for your lessons."

Music

"Music can be taught through the use of music blocks. There are people out there making songs by Katy Perry or Avichii. It all links into technological science with logic gates, because they can connect music blocks together and repeat them to play different sounds."

Main Image credit: hobbymb / Flickr