Minecraft | Melbourne
A "mini Melbourne"has been built within popular video game Minecraft in a world-first to teach science, maths, archaeology and engineering in Victorian schools.
Students will be tasked with unearthing artefacts in archaeological digs based on those at the sites of the metro tunnel.
They will search for dentures, medicine bottles, pencils and even old dice - all uncovered across the city - before ‘analysing' them at a digital lab.
It took the Department of Education more than six months to build the 600,000 square metre virtual city.
Based on 3D maps, it includes digital replicas of St Paul's Cathedral, Federation Square, the Yarra River and the Arts Centre.
Hidden among the city is also 10 Easter eggs and a drop bear in the Royal Botantic Gardens.
But the department's "digital learning coach"Stephen Elford said the video game also contained serious lessons.
"There is a lot of immersed learning whereby students have to make decisions and live by those decisions,"he said.
"There's the opportunity for students to break artefacts if they are digging too quick and, once it's broken, they can't fix it.
"They can then make that choice whether to keep digging fast and being reckless, or whether to slow down and dig slower and more carefully."
The state government struck a five-year deal with Microsoft last year to roll out an educational version of the popular video game - played by more than 154 million people worldwide - in all public schools.
It has been used to teach coding, science and maths, as well as humanities and geography at Numurkah Secondary College.
Year 8 student Chloe Wilson, 13, today scoured "mini Melbourne"for the first time, manipulating the time of day in search of wildlife more commonly spotted at sunrise.
"It's fun and the way I like to learn - hands on,"she said.
"It is better than writing it all down because that just doesn't stick."
Education Minister James Merlino refused to detail how much the licencing deal with the software giant had cost the state, citing commercial in confidence provisions.
But he said that game-based learning had become a "well-established"tool in Victorian schools.
"It's about going beyond the textbooks,"he said.
"When you think about jobs of the future - science, maths, technology, coding, critical and creative thinking - these are all things that are provided in this Minecraft program."
Games and education consultant Dr Bron Stuckey compared Minecraft to the ‘virtual' equivalent of building with Lego.
"You're building the world, you're creating the path, you're creating the adventures - you're in control of what is happening,"she said.
"The coding side of it is brilliant because the kids are beginning to design code that creates things in the world.
"They are seeing immediate effect for the code that they are creating, and it's not code for code sake.
"It's code to actually understand the mathematics and engineering of something."
Article source: Minecraft ‘mini Melbourne' touted as top educational tool for schools
MONIQUE HORE, STATE POLITICAL REPORTER, Herald Sun
May 13, 2019
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