STEM teachers from Broward County Public Schools in Florida are making distance learning fun for students stuck at home during the COVID-19 pandemic. The teachers are creating lessons through an education version of Minecraft, a video game that allows students to work together and design their own virtual worlds.
“So I get to play with my friends in Minecraft and I get to create stuff which takes up my time and doesn’t just leave you sitting around doing nothing,” Florida middle school student Megan Mendoza told NBC Miami.
The teachers are using Minecraft to teach students science, engineering, history, geography, math, and many more subjects. Some are using the game to teach geometric math concepts and the impact of climate change.
During the pandemic, teachers created a popular challenge for students where they use the game to build their own dream home — the one they wish they could live in during quarantine.
Minecraft’s education mode has pre-made lessons. It also allows teachers to create their own lessons. They can manage what goes on inside the game through an app called “classroom mode.” It also includes tools for teachers to assess student projects. Students can take snapshots of their projects with an in-game camera, which they can share with their classmates.
“Students can take pictures of what they’re building, work they’ve done together,” Minecraft general manager Deirdre Quarnstrom told the Washington Post. “It provides a gamified way of capturing evidence that they’re learning and showing the mastery of the subjects that they’re studying.”
The company has made the education version of Minecraft free to educators and students through June 2020. Minecraft isn’t the only game teachers are using to help students during the new era of distance learning. Some are also using Roblox to teach kids about biology, climate change, and game design. Others are using Assassin’s Creed, a game that allows kids to study and explore ancient architecture.
Are you looking for games to help teach your students about STEM? Try your hand at one of the engaging engineering games on TryEngineering and learn while having fun! Games for grades K-12 cover topics ranging from inventing and coding to environmental and electrical engineering.