Over the past few year as we have been out talking about Minecraft Circuits in Real Life we have received a consistent question from parents: “isn’t Minecraft just another video game?” With all that kids are into today it is easy to understand why parents can not keep up and it is easy to just put Minecraft in that bucket of “just another video game.” After a few minutes of conversation about what their kids are doing in Minecraft and how it works, we usually see a big ah-ha moment happen. They get it. Often parents will even commit to try to play it with their child and understand it a little more.
From those conversations we have put together a talk for Minecrafters and their parental units on how Minecraft is inspiring a generation of Makers. Architecture, Mechanical Engineering, Civil Engineering, Mass Communication, Video Production, Electrical Engineering, Computer Sciences, Project Management, and more skills being used in and around the Minecraft universe. Minecraft cuts across gender, age, nationality, social or economic status and is truly a global phenomenon. We first presented this at the Greater Newark Area Mini Maker Faire and received an overwhelmingly positive response. We were amazed at not only the interest from the crowd but the conversations afterwards. We experienced a lot of ah-ha moments for a lot of families. The kids in the audience were awesome and jumped right in to help us help their parents understand Minecraft. Every kid had stories of what they had built and what they want to build. There was definitely no shortage of creativity. It was inspiring to say the least.
We also experienced a new ah-ha moment – from the kids. When they realized that they could take what they have been doing in the game into the real world, they had questions, lots of them. How do I 3D print? How do I build this that I made in the game in real-life? How do circuits work?
Since that initial talk Minecraft to Maker has grown into a grass roots movement of Makers and Makerspaces uses Minecraft related projects to teach young makers new skills. Mary Glendening, Library Director of the Middetown Free Library, is using Minecraft all year round in their CreateSpace Makerspace. Mary and her team have done projects with the young makers that range from Minecraft E-Textiles to a Minecraft Christmas Tree made from “real-life Minecraft blocks” that the kids made. She has also tacked edible projects and everything in between.
Lavon Phillips, Director of SOHA Smart Makerspace in New Jersey has been using Minecraft themed Maker projects for the last year. Starting with Minecraft Circuits in Real Life and he continues to evolve the series with classes such as Minecraft 3D Doodling where kids use the 3D Doodler to make Minecraft characters and blocks. They have also recently added Minecraft Circuit Sewing which includes soldering, sewing, and hacking of Minecraft plushies.
Minecraft to Maker continues to be an evolving discussion about all of these topics. How Minecraft is a safe place to play and how that play can be turned into real-life accomplishments and innovations. We will continue to update this page with resource and links for all the Minecrafter’s and parents.
Most recently, Microsoft, who purchased Mojang in 2014 has launched a new Minecraft in Education site. The description and video make it looks to be a promising venture to support teachers everywhere. We hope to leverage this and more Microsoft resources in the continuing story of Minecraft to Maker.
“Minecraft in education is students visiting an ancient civilization and creating a setting for a story. It is exploring math concepts using Minecraft blocks. It is practicing collaboration, problem solving, digital citizenship and leadership skills while designing experiments and demonstrating mastery. Minecraft in education is teachers inspired by their students to explore and create, and students motivated to learn.”
LINKS and RESOURCES:
Middletown Free Library – 21 N. Pennell Rd., Box 275, Lima, PA 19037 – (610) 566-7828
CreateSpace @ MFL a Digital Media Lab & MakerSpace is now open!
See what’s happening @ http://www.createspacemfl.com
On Facebook @ https://www.facebook.com/createspacemfl
Or on Twitter @ http://twitter.com/CreateSpace
FUBAR LABS – 100 Jersey Ave, Suit B-103, New Brunswick, NJ 08901
Microsoft Minecraft Education: http://education.minecraft.net
Minecraft in Education – http://minecraftedu.com/
In their words: “MinecraftEdu is a school-ready remix of the original smash hit game Minecraft, played by over 30 million people worldwide. Created by teachers for classroom use and officially supported by Mojang, the company behind Minecraft, MinecraftEdu contains a set of powerful yet simple tools to fine-tune the Minecraft experience for learning. Teachers in over 40 countries use MinecraftEdu in every subject area from STEM to Language, to History, to Art.”
Raspberry PI – http://www.raspberrypi.org/
The Raspberry Pi is a credit-card sized computer that plugs into your TV and a keyboard. It is a capable little computer which can be used in electronics projects, and for many of the things that your desktop PC does, like spreadsheets, word-processing and games. It also plays high-definition video. We want to see it being used by kids all over the world to learn how computers work, how to manipulate the electronic world around them, and how to program.
Minecraft – Raspberry Pi Edition – http://pi.minecraft.net/
MagPI Magazine – Minecraft Issue # 11 – http://www.themagpi.com/issue/issue-11/
3D Printing: Mineways – http://www.realtimerendering.com/erich/minecraft/public/mineways/
Mineways is a free, open-source program for exporting Minecraft models for 3D printing or rendering. You don’t need a 3D printer, you can easily upload and view (for free) and buy models using 3D print services.
3D Printing: Printcraft – http://www.printcraft.org/
Printcraft is the world’s first 3D printing multi-player Minecraft server. Download your Minecraft models to print on your 3D printer or order models online and have them printed and delivered.