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Seventh-grader McKenzie Matthews works on making a replica of Episcopal Day School on Thursday during the school’s Minecraft camp. (Kara Carrier / American Press)

Seventh-grader McKenzie Matthews works on making a replica of Episcopal Day School on Thursday during the school’s Minecraft camp. (Kara Carrier / American Press)

EDS incorporates Minecraft into learning

Last Modified: Saturday, June 28, 2014 11:49 AM

By Kara Carrier / American Press

Students at Bishop Noland Episcopal Day School had the opportunity to spend this past week playing a popular video game during the school’s first Minecraft Camp.

Minecraft, a game that involves creating and building structures out of textured cubes, has over 100 million users and has become increasingly popular among school-age children.

Candace Marque, school curriculum coordinator, said she heard about the game from her students and children. She recently began reading articles on education blogs about how to incorporate the game in a learning environment.

Marque said she found that a modification for the game had been created solely for teachers to use in their classrooms and decided to use it for a weeklong camp.

“This game is all about problem-based learning,” she said. “It engages learners to problem solve. They use visual and spacial skills, interpersonal skills, collaboration and creativity.”

Marque said 36 kids attended the camp during daily, three-hour sessions. She said the group’s first project was working in a pre-created world about ancient history.

“A teacher from the International School of Kuwait uploaded a world that he made called ‘The World of Humanities,’ ” Marque said. “There’s all these replicas built within the game of international monuments like the Roman Colosseum. The kids can also visit ancient civilizations like ancient China and ancient Egypt.”

She said characters in the world include Aristotle and Confucius, who talk with the students and send them on quests.

On Thursday, Marque said, the students began working on their second project — building a replica of their school. Marque said she gave students a flat, grass landscape. The students were instructed to work together to create the different parts of the building.

“Students keep popping up to go measure things because we agreed our unit of measure would be our 12-inch tiles that we have on the floor, but we are going to build it half the size,” Marque said.

“They had to learn to negotiate and collaborate really quickly about who’s going to build which parts of the school, materials to use, just a lot of decisions they had to make up front.”

Marque said some things have worked out perfectly, but others the kids had to problem solve and figure out another solution. “What I’ve learned is that Minecraft is a really great place for them to fail and try again,” she said. “It’s nothing but time, practice and collaboration.”

Marque said that instead of answering students’ questions, she tries to advise and redirect them to teach one another.

On Thursday, seventh-grader McKenzie Matthews said she was trying to fix a hallway door. “I’m trying to figure out why I can’t place the blocks,” Matthews said. “If I can’t figure it out, I’ll have to ask someone to help me.”

Sixth-grader Jacob Ardoin said he and Sophia Hadon, also in sixth grade, were also working on a doorway. “We got all of these the same except for that one because we messed up on the entrance,” Ardoin said. “That’s our vice principal’s office, and we can’t move it. We’re trying to figure out how to make it the right size.”

Marque said she is hoping now that the school has the Minecraft education software, she can create a technology club or incorporate it into some after-school activities.

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