Students Use Minecraft: Education Edition To Showcase Solutions Combatting Climate Change

UPDATE: July 2021

This competition ran again in 2021 and had some stunning student submissions that I’m embedding here to show what’s possible when combining deep learning and knowledge sharing in a game based platform for sharing that knowledge:

Team Electrae – Champion (Senior Category)
Team Energae – 1st Runner-up (Senior Category)
Team Goaty – 2nd Runner-up (Senior Category)

Original Post:

I always consider myself very privileged in my role because of the diverse experiences and opportunities I get to participate in. One of the highlights of late 2020 was being asked to judge student submissions in a competition run by Singapore’s Energy Market Authority (EMA).

A well lit campus in a world created by students in Singapore. Credit

The quality of entries by secondary school students was very high, as they collaboratively worked to come up with innovative solutions to combat the energy trilemma of balancing the tradeoffs between:

  1. Energy security
  2. Energy equity (i.e. competitive prices)
  3. Environmental sustainability

There is a terrific blog from the Minecraft: Education Edition team here that I encourage you to read in detail, but you’ll see below I’ve embedded the three top entries.

What I particularly liked about this competition was the depth of scientific knowledge demonstrated by students: both in their explanations during their video walkthrough, and in their world creation inside of Minecraft: Education Edition. As a platform, Minecraft is sometimes dismissed as merely “a game”, but I think readers will see the complex environment that can be created with real-world physics and mechanics demonstrated by these student entries.

To that end, Minecraft: Education Edition is the perfect platform to demonstrate student creativity, collaboration and deep theoretical knowledge and understanding – all skills that sit at the heart of most education frameworks in countries today. On top of this, the students have very high engagement because of the great fun that Minecraft represents as a platform to demonstrate learning.

The Winners

First Place

Each student group reflected on their learnings from this competition (again, read these in full here), with the winners noting:

After taking part in the challenge, we learned that there is no one silver bullet that would solve global and complex issues such as the energy trilemma … We also learned that we do not necessarily have to work in the power industry in order to contribute to a more sustainable energy future.

Students Design Innovative Solutions in the Singapore Energy Grand Challenge for Youth | Minecraft: Education Edition

First Runner Up

When building our energy-efficient world, we were initially worried that we might not be able to meet the deadlines, since we were juggling between this project and our school examinations. But we encouraged one another along to get the tasks done, and we were glad that our strong camaraderie allowed us to eventually finish building a world we are proud of for the challenge…. Through this experience, we have gained a deeper understanding of Singapore’s Energy Story and had fun exploring different, innovative, energy-efficient ideas. It was indeed a gratifying experience for the team as we learned and grew as individuals.

Students Design Innovative Solutions in the Singapore Energy Grand Challenge for Youth | Minecraft: Education Edition

Second Runner Up

The thought of using Minecraft: Education Edition to put our vision of a future energy-efficient school excited us. It put our critical thinking skills to the test because we needed to consider implications and trade-offs to come up with new and innovative ideas …. One of our key takeaways from participating in the challenge is that we are now all more careful about how we use energy and make a point of saving it where we can. Learning more about Singapore’s Energy Story and the energy trilemma that we need to manage has also inspired us to contribute more actively to making Singapore more sustainable for everyone.

Students Design Innovative Solutions in the Singapore Energy Grand Challenge for Youth | Minecraft: Education Edition

Final Thoughts

Running Minecraft:Education Edition competitions like this is a great way to engage students and allow them to demonstrate authentic learning, student voice and creativity in a platform that many students are already familiar with.

Putting together a robust learning outcome from the outset is the key and then wrapping a competition framework around that if appropriate. Hopefully this example from students in Singapore help prove what is possible and inspire you to get involved with your students.

I am always keen to discuss what I've written and hear your ideas so leave a reply here...