MINECRAFT + STEM EDUCATION + CLIMATE CHANGE = STEM4CLIM8
A question about why we should involve Minecraft in STEM education may come to our minds occasionally. There is no unique answer to this question. One answer may be that students can learn and have so much fun during playing games like Minecraft. The skills that children gain by playing Minecraft includes problem-solving, self-direction, and collaboration. In addition, they also gain engineering skills (which is one of the main STEM skills) by building in the game. Minecraft is already a very popular game among majority of secondary school students. This ensures more volunteer participation of students within STEM classes.
Another reason for why we should use Minecraft in STEM education brings out the creativity of students by letting them build according to their imagination. Students can create worlds they are familiar with, or they can create completely new worlds through Minecraft. The only limit to students’ building works is their own imagination.
Minecraft is not a game intended for “winning”. It is up to the player to decide what to achieve during a specific time period, conducting tasks within their preferred ranks and playing modes. This makes Minecraft unique in STEM education. Ranks in Minecraft can be chosen according to player categories (such as “Newcomer” for new players, “Citizen” for low-level players, “Elder” for mid-level players, and “Veteran” for high-level players, etc.). The main game modes in Minecraft are “Creative”, “Survival”, “Hardcore”, and “Adventure”. There is also the Spectator mode, where players can observe worlds without interacting. Students can have unlimited resources to create everything they need to build in Creator mode. The Survival mode provides students a gaming approach with challenges, restrictions, enemies, and the ability to fight, using limited resources. In Adventure mode, students can develop a game within a particular story, in other words, an epic adventure. In Hardcore mode (which is only available in Minecraft Java Edition), players need to preserve their one life available, undergoing a survival test, under the threats of health, hunger, experience, and mobs.
Playing Minecraft is a collaborative task for students, where they can collect resources, build structures, share their tips and help each other, cooperating to achieve their common goals. This is another important social skill that students gain by playing Minecraft. Being “STEM-minded”, students can apply all the above-mentioned social skills to their real lives.
There are other important skills that Minecraft teaches students, in addition to social skills. In Minecraft games, players can make the game special for them. Therefore, students can write coding to customize the game they play. In this way, while students learn to code, they also learn the Java programming language. So, Minecraft gives them computer programming learning skills.
In fact, teachers who have never used Minecraft shouldn't be worried in the classroom. Because there will be another student who uses it. They will be happy to share their knowledge of how to play with their teachers. There are also many tutorial videos on the internet for people who have never used Minecraft. In addition, there are many forums that teachers can benefit from.
Minecraft is like giving teachers a break in the classroom. Because if students are not kept under control while playing, they will have the opportunity to reveal their own creativity and discover themselves. This will contribute to students' self-learning skills. In addition, the student who cannot solve the situations they encounter during the game on their own can contact their other friends and solve their problem by getting help from them. In this way, the student's ability to work in a team will also develop. The best part of the job is that students gain all these skills without realizing it while having fun.
The STEM4CLIM8 Project will raise students’ awareness of climate change through learning about natural disasters, in a funny way, while playing Minecraft. Students will not only play but also learn about climate change in an innovative way. Higher order thinking skills including critical and analytical thinking will be developed. At the same time, students’ digital skills will be improved during the whole process.