Minecraft and Mathematics – STEM

Life for the average eight year old has changed, a new world has opened up…MINECRAFT.

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Every evening around teatime, I have the joy of my son playing this game on the xbox with three of his friends from school. Now they don’t come round to play but meet up in a game world from the comfort of their own homes.

As a regular listener to the verbal exchanges, I am fast growing to see educational potential in this piece of software. In January, I read with interest that a post primary school in Sweden, as even incorporated it into the curriculum.

“Mummy, it is not violent or anything, there is no blood. Just mobs and zombies. You build things and sometimes get attacked”.
“Oh right sounds interesting….”

Fearing the worst, I subjected myself to supervising his gaming. I didn’t like the sound of zombies!!

For the first few months, I couldn’t understand the obession with it but now I get it … well I think I do.

A simple explanation for grown ups – or big kids

Minecraft is basically like a brick building game. The concept is very simple: players build with 3D blocks in an infinite “sandbox” world, with no specific goals or levels to beat. Everyone can experience success no matter what they create.

There are mobs who are tradition type bad characters who can wipe you out but not forever. In the beginning, people built structures to protect against nocturnal monsters.

Brave players battle terrible things in The Nether, which is more scary than pretty. You can also visit a land of mushrooms if it sounds more like your cup of tea.

You can invite friends into this world and you can build things (or destroy them). There are two modes survival or creative. My son likes to enable both when playing with friends but like just making things in creative mode when they aren’t available to play.

My child has built all sorts of things from shops to stadiums both individually and as a group. I am forever impressed with his creativity.

Although I must admit to downloading an app called CraftMC to fully understand what everything does.

When I was at school I loved Mathematics, especially when it is practical and I could fully engage with it. Looks like my boy is no different. He is able to apply his mathematical knowledge to solve all sorts of problems.

For any parent or perhaps adventurous teacher. Here are a few ideas to advance your children’s mathematical ability without them realising it!!

Number

– Number Theory and Counting (blocks as units or items on your inventory)

– Addition and Subtraction of unit-blocks

– Basic Algebraic Equations e.g.

I have 60 wooden planks. How many doors can I make?

I have 64 Iron Ingots and 32 Redstone. How many compasses can I make?

– Times tables 3×3 grids to make chests and tables etc

Data Handling

Graphs

Use Minecraft to create histograms for visual representation.

Area/Volume

Giving children a set number of blocks to explore how many shapes they can make with a specific area, or volume, or surface area.

Scale

Using a scale like 1 block = 1m get your child or pupils to recreate something. Make it even more interesting by changing the scale.

You could explore other concepts, please comment below if you any other ideas.

Picture it

The beauty of this game is it available for the PC, Wii, Xbox and as a pocket edition.

One of the things I like about it on the iPad or as a pocket edition is the ability to take a snap shot of something you have made.

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We do a STEM project on building bridges and this is one of my pupils favourite home learning tasks to write instructions to create a bridge in Minecraft, take a picture using their iPad and email it. Makes a wonderful wall display! Some even make movies of how they completed the task using iMovie complete with creeper music.

If you want further ideas check out the Minecraft teacher.

http://minecraftteacher.tumblr.com/

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