Engaging children with STEM through Minecraft: new practitioner guides

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Science Hunters has been engaging children with the computer game Minecraft since 2014. Originally initiated at Lancaster University, the programme is now run in collaboration between Lancaster University and UWE Bristol. Its engineering strand, Building to Break Barriers aims to engage children from under-represented groups with engineering, using the game.

Minecraft is an extremely popular computer game, and has various features that make it ideal for communicating about Science, Technology, Engineering and Maths (STEM).

Over the course of delivery, the Science Hunters team have gained various insights into the practicalities of using Minecraft to engage children with STEM in schools, at Minecraft Clubs for specific groups and at small and large public events. As part of Building to Break Barriers, two guides, drawing on their extensive experience, have been produced for practitioners thinking of using Minecraft for STEM outreach and engagement:

Engagement through Minecraft: Available editions

Engaging children with STEM using Minecraft

The guides lay out why Science Hunters uses Minecraft to engage children with STEM including:

  • Its popularity makes it familiar and appealing to children
  • It can interest them in topics that they might not otherwise engage with, because they’re interested in the game
  • It is also relatively easy to use, and generally quickly picked up
  • Minecraft has various features which represent items and processes in the real world, which can help children explore and understand a range of scientific concepts.   

They also cover the versions of Minecraft available to choose from, and topics such as making STEM accessible, modes of Minecraft, options for setting up the game for use in engagement, face-to-face and virtual engagement and planning considerations. They are not official Minecraft resources. Building to Break Barriers was funded under the Royal Academy of Engineering Ingenious scheme from May 2020 to January 2022. Ongoing extension work is currently funded by a Biochemical Society Diversity in Science grant. For more information or to discuss future collaboration please contact sciencehunters@uwe.ac.uk.  

By Laura Hobbs and Sarah Behenna.

Please note that these guides were produced in 2021. Information contained within the documents may be subject to change and should be confirmed by users, and does not constitute recommendations.

Cover image build by Jay Fenney.

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