It's a (virtual) new world using Minecraft: Education Edition for STEM curriculum

Minecraft is an effective entry into computer science education for young learners in the DOE's Summer STEM program.

Minecraft is an effective entry into computer science education for young learners in the DOE's Summer STEM program.

For anyone who assumes that video games are fairly mindless adventures with no educational benefit for kids, Minecraft: Education Edition will turn that view upside down. The game, which allows players to build and explore virtual worlds, was a key element in the arts enrichment component of the New York City Department of Education’s second Summer STEM program, which concluded in mid-August. Minecraft: Education Edition, was provided by the Microsoft Corp., in addition to the company's financial support of the program.

More than 2,500 NYC public school students, in grades 2 – 10, participated in the program and were among the first to benefit from Minecraft: Education Edition, the new educational version of the world-renowned game, which was launched by parent Microsoft earlier this year. Through Minecraft: Education Edition, students explored virtual lands where they created their own worlds and experiences, and were required to find resources and tap into their creativity to do so.

“Minecraft is unique in that engagement and students’ confidence in their own ability to learn and grow is high. In terms of learning, it provides a safe place for students to take creative risks and persist through a task,” noted Abigael Escobal, a Visual Arts teacher who was among more than 200 educators who participated in Summer STEM.

By including Minecraft: Education Edition in the arts enrichment component of the program, teachers were able to show students how art can connect back to STEM, broadening students’ understanding of how far-ranging the impact of STEM education can be. And the hands-on and project-based STEM curriculum enabled teachers to engage students of all ages and abilities in problem-solving, planning, organization, and design – skills that will equip students for the 21st century workplace.

During the course of Summer STEM, teachers learned, too. They received training to use a Minecraft: Education Edition arts curriculum that included creation of sculpture gardens, self-portraits, roller coasters, and historical monuments. Having learned how to effectively deliver this innovative curricula during the summer, these teachers can take their training, along with any non-electronic materials, back to their classrooms to use during the regular school year, exposing even more students to this highly engaged style of learning.   

“I am definitely going to bring the use of the Minecraft curriculum back to my school.  It’s an amazing way to engage student learning through technology in a positive way,” said Adam Jacobs, a Music teacher and after-school program coordinator.