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Students Learn Through Video Games

Coding With Minecraft

Video games offer ways to explore worlds that have never been seen before while interacting with story characters and gameplay systems. However, video games are not normally thought of as a learning tool. In fact, 20 years ago it would have been unheard of to use a video game in school. In Kent School District students are being introduced to problem solving skills and how to think critically using Minecraft. 

This year, Microsoft’s Minecraft Education team visited some KSD elementary schools to teach programming using Minecraft. “The Minecraft Education team produces learning experiences focused across three areas: future ready skills, climate and sustainability, and social education,” said Susie Tinker, senior business program manager. 

The Minecraft Education team builds worlds for students to explore, and then students explore these worlds using programming logic. However, students are also learning about different issues facing our world. “Our content really touches on tough topics like climate change, and equity and inclusion,” said Tinker. “By using Minecraft’s open-ended, creative environment, we can build lessons and learning activities that help students explore and understand these complex issues in a more engaging and interactive way.”

Mary Elizabeth Pearson, community manager at Microsoft, is excited about how the Hour of Code and Minecraft is bringing more diverse student voices into the computer science industry. “When I see young girls get excited about coding, it makes me feel so proud to be on the team but most importantly, for them to see themselves as a coder and problem solver. I hope Hour of Code breaks down barriers for students to see that learning to code can be fun and rewarding,” said Pearson.

Students at Sawyer Woods Elementary talked about their experience learning programming through Minecraft.

"It was fun, it was difficult, and it taught us to never give up."

Ibrahim, Jackson, and Artin
Sawyer Woods Elementary
Sixth Grade Students 

The determination that students display while trying to solve problems and excel through these Minecraft worlds has been a joy to watch for Amber Gonzalez, Sawyer Woods librarian. “It’s awesome to watch our students approach the coding challenges with growth mindsets and positive attitudes. 

They are determined to write code that solve each problem and are so proud of themselves when they do,” said Gonzalez. 

As we continue to explore student programming curriculum and engaging students with familiar tools such as video games, we are changing the dynamics of their learning process. The Minecraft Education team hopes to see programming become more accessible and provide students with a career pathway they did not know was an option. “I hope the Minecraft Hour of Code teaches students that coding is fun, it’s for everyone, and they get inspired to continue learning more throughout their education,” said Tinker.