As the first MIT-STEAM Challenge of the year lifted off, the prospect of being virtual did not affect our students. Thanks to their ingenuity and Minecraft Education, they were able to create new objects/processes to allow life in space to continue as normal (as normal as you can be in low gravity) for those participating in sport, art or preparing food.
Year 7 have been the first year group in school to pilot the use of Minecraft Education Edition, and the results so far have been very promising. Minecraft has gone from being a rather abstract and niche mining game to a global phenomenon in just under a decade. It's sandbox nature makes it accessible to everyone who loves to build, it's problem solving core makes it ideal for those who love a challenge and the fact that it incorporates aspects of electronic engineering and replicates real chemistry in its creations, makes it an ideal tool for STEAM subjects. In our topic on Particle Theory, pictures included, students were able to model their thinking like never before. Gone are the days of teachers telling them to 'move like a solid' and 'run around like a gas'. Now students can create a virtual 3-D model of their thinking and it is easy to identify both their grasp of the concept or any areas in which they are still unsure.
Year 8 followed this up by modelling atoms from Group 1&8 as part of their Particle Model and Periodic Table topic. One student (Alzbeta B.) went so far as to create a perfect replica of the entire Periodic Table, while another student (Pavel Dz.) is busy creating a working calculator in Minecraft.
Minecraft is not simply a tool for STEAM subjects though. It is an open world with near infinite possibilities and users can create whatever they want, from the Coliseum to the Taj Mahal, so that it can be adapted from History, Modern Languages, English and just about any topic you can think of. The problem solving aspect is ubiquitous through Minecraft and this is what offers such a valuable and necessary invitation to student and teacher alike. As a result we are also trialing Student Minecraft Gurus for the remainder of this year so the power of this game can be extended across the school.
Wakelet: 8AP went a bit further than simply learning about anaerobic respiration this year, they decided to try out making their own bread and find interesting recipes from around the world. We used a great new website called 'Wakelet' which is a curation site, used for collecting and organising information from across the web. It is perfect for sharing and collaboration as well as giving students space to showcase their work.