Minecraft is a current obsession for many kids, teenagers, and adults alike.
It’s relatively simple. The game looks a bit crude… the graphics look blocky, like giant, digital Lego pieces… The goal of the game is to craft, or build, structures in these 16-bit worlds, and figuring things out on your own is a big part of it. In its “creative mode,” Minecraft is about building, exploration, creativity and even collaboration.
But many educators now are getting creative and using the world and tools of Minecraft to create immerse and engaging opportunities to learn.
Minecraft is being used to educate children on everything from science to city planning to speaking a new language, said Joel Levin, co-founder and education director at the company TeacherGaming.
A history teacher in Australia set up “quest missions” where students can wander through and explore ancient worlds. An English-language teacher in Denmark told children they could play Minecraft collectively in the classroom but with one caveat: they were allowed to communicate both orally and through text only in English. A science teacher in California has set up experiments in Minecraft to teach students about gravity.
But what do the neurologists and cognitive scientists have to say about it?
A study by S.R.I. International, a Silicon Valley research group that specializes in technology, found that game-based play could raise cognitive learning for students by as much as 12 percent and improve hand-eye coordination, problem-solving ability and memory.
And children who play games could even become better doctors. No joke. Neuroscientists performed a study at Iowa State University that found that surgeons performed better, and were more accurate on the operating table, when they regularly played video games.