Many parents are skeptical of their children playing video games. This is certainly understandable—the educational benefits of many video games are dubious. But not all video games are created equal. One game is increasingly integrated into classrooms and homeschool curriculums: Minecraft. Minecraft is a uniquely engaging game with a host of educational benefits and applications. Let’s take a look at a few.
Minecraft is different from many video games in that it’s a “sandbox” style game: Kids enter a 3D environment where they are free to build and do whatever they want. This unique experience inspires kids to think creatively, and rewards creation in the many forms it can take, from designing and building their dream house, to collaborating with friends to build their own worlds.
Minecraft can help engage students who might be turned off by the memorization of historical facts and dates. With Minecraft, you can import fully-reconstructed versions of famous buildings and landmarks, or build your own. What better way to bring history to life than going on a virtual tour of the Great Pyramids, the Globe Theatre, or the Coliseum? When kids get a closer look at these buildings, they can develop a greater understanding of the architecture involved, and compare and contrast how different structures were built.
Kids can learn the basics of electrical engineering with Redstone, the Minecraft equivalent of electricity. In Minecraft, you can dig and discover Redstone dust, and when you learn how to combine signal producers and signal consumers, you can power all kinds of devices and contraptions. Kids can use Redstone to build their own circuits and learn the basic principles of electrical engineering.
Programming with Java
One unique aspect of Minecraft is how customizable it can be. One popular way to customize is Modding, or altering the original programming code of the game. Kids can create their own blocks, ores, and other items, and share them with friends. Kids create their own tools and objects while coding and learning the fundamentals of Java, one of the most widely-used programming languages out there.
Math and Geometry
Minecraft has many natural applications to mathematics, and it has been used by many teachers to improve engagement and boost results. Teachers allow kids to manipulate blocks, construct more complex shapes, and solve geometric problems in Minecraft. One teacher in Los Angeles found his “Mathcraft” program “helped increase the math performance of his class from 18% correct at the beginning of the year to 83% correct during the end-of-year retesting, while drastically improving the academic culture of his class.”
Over 100 million copies of Minecraft have been sold— it’s a bonafide phenomenon, and many kids are already spending lots of time playing it. Why not harness some of this enthusiasm and apply it to your child’s education?
James Knutila is Editorial Lead at Tech Rocket, a great destination for kids and teens to learn coding, game design, and graphic design.