Teaching Construction With Minecraft
Minecraft is a video game that allows players to construct worlds of their own by building (or demolishing) blocks. It’s the best-selling video game in history, and it is endlessly customizable to provide continued value to kids and instructors alike. Teaching with Minecraft is an ideal way to introduce the construction industry to children in a way that grabs their attention.
Kids often get to know construction equipment at very early ages, so explaining construction to kids isn’t necessarily a difficult task. In fact, it can be a fun way to get their gears turning by thinking about the buildings they see every day. Minecraft offers them the chance to understand how construction projects come together in the real world.
If you’re wondering how to connect the dots between construction education and building games like Minecraft, first you’ll need to understand Minecraft and the game’s objectives. Read on below for an introduction to the world-building game and its educational potential. You can also jump to our visual guide or check out our fun Minecraft buildable activities for a learning activity.
What is Minecraft?
Minecraft is a type of video game that’s known as a sandbox game because, like a sandbox, its only limits are building materials and creativity. Once in the game, players can roam the infinite landscape to mine raw materials to make tools or construct buildings. Other players can compete for resources, or they can team up to achieve goals together.
Essentially crypto-Legos, Minecraft’s signature blocks make design and construction simple by keeping worlds within the same 3D style structure. The simplicity translates to easy use for children of all ages so that teaching construction methods is a no-brainer.
How to Use Minecraft for Education
Many subjects have a use for a tool like Minecraft for education. Math teachers incorporate lessons about ratios and proportions, and historical replicas of ancient structures teach students about architecture and anthropology. Minecraft even created an Education Edition where developers create worlds that are fine-tuned for learning.
There are specific tools for teaching construction with Minecraft as well. BeIMCraft, or Built Environment Information Modeling Craft, is a play on BIM construction software. It’s a unique modification of Minecraft that gets children thinking about real-life consequences of construction projects like cost and sustainability.
With these tools, the construction industry doesn’t have long to wait before a hoard of savvy Minecraft builders are clamoring to apply their skills to real projects.
Using Minecraft: Education Edition
Developers at Minecraft tailored the Education Edition to appeal to kids of all ages, with lessons planned from age 3 to high school and beyond.
Though instructors can create their own games, existing challenges cover subjects from math and science to business and government, and even music and theater. Many lessons relate to sustainability, a core facet of Minecraft that determines when and where players must travel to collect limited resources, or if they must sustainably create their own in-game.
The Education Edition has several lessons that teach users about construction sustainability. These are just a few:
- Outflow Order: Kids learn about wastewater outflow, including treatment and management.
- It’s Good to Be Green: Construction and excess energy waste mitigation fuels this learning exercise.
- Dependable Forests: Deforestation and lumber alternatives get kids thinking green in this lesson.
- Sustainable Home: Kids build homes with sustainable materials and learn to source them.
These lessons offer a glimpse into the classroom of a construction pupil. They also align with Minecraft’s message of providing a learning environment that encourages inclusivity and creativity. In the near future, more builders than ever before will be thinking about sustainable construction because of what they learned in elementary school.
Whereas the Education Edition of Minecraft is used widely in many different subjects, the BeIMCraft module is tailored specifically for the construction industry. BeIMCraft’s mission is to get kids engaged with BIM software. The game module is designed to spark ideas about building from a managerial perspective: what are the consequences of this construction project, both good and bad?
BIM software introduces a 3D replica of a building for use before, during and after the construction process. BeIMCraft does the same, giving children a glimpse of how complex buildings come together. The game actually pushes for players to create the optimal design for a structure instead of the most inventive one, teaching goal-setting and planning.
The game’s realistic boundaries create measured expectations for construction projects. Foundations must be sufficient, structural support must exist for tall buildings and all materials are assigned a price so students can monitor cost. Objectives also include designing healthy buildings for occupant health, and monitoring supply chains for sustainable structures.
Construction Lessons Learned with Minecraft
While BeIMCraft and the Education Edition both have exciting features to help kids learn construction, building tools in the game can teach construction skills regardless of the specific version in use. Learning how to build a building in Minecraft underscores nearly every lesson and is at the forefront of all Minecraft education.
Through the Building Symmetry lesson plan, students design homes and buildings using formulas learned from geometry. While this lesson specifically accompanies a math course, basic principles of geometry inform the construction projects we interact with and get kids thinking about the planning stages of building.
The ability to visualize shapes and structures in the mind is a key indicator of kids’ inclination to STEM (science, technology, engineering and mathematics) subjects. By visualizing something first and then building it, kids flex their spatial awareness skills with Minecraft and open themselves up to learning more about the world of construction.
Minecraft lessons like Building Architecture teach children to build in different architectural styles. The lessons they learn allow them to see ancient structures in a new light by immersing themselves in the building process. Minecraft could even lead to an appreciation for adaptive reuse projects and remodels in the same way.
Supply Chain Insight
While Minecraft features Creative mode that allows players to work without resource limitations, BeIMCraft intentionally limits supplies to reflect the real world. Players navigate challenges arising from resource depletion and can encounter cost overruns in their projects. Lessons can even incorporate supply chain schedules for kids to grasp unforeseen project delays.
In construction, communication between teams can make or break a project as deadlines loom. Minecraft encourages collaboration in Craft Your Future, a construction module, by making tasks simpler to accomplish together; whether building a structure or defending it from an attacking mob, it’s easier with the help of others. These collaboration skills translate easily into working on a job site.
Minecraft is famous for its general disdain for rules, but it always promotes inclusion. The Climate Action lesson compares today’s climate to ten years ago and asks students to empathize with those who’ve been affected by climate change, like refugees from rising sea levels or extreme drought.
Printable Minecraft Construction Activity
For those days when your child just needs to pull their eyes away from a screen, keep these Minecraft-inspired construction buildables handy. Not only do paper buildables improve hand-eye coordination and motor skills, but they also stimulate creativity and imagination by giving kids new construction scenarios to play with. You can download them for free below!
Learn to Play the Game
Like construction technology and the weather, education is changing rapidly. The COVID-19 pandemic reshaped how many children in the US approach daily education. Teaching initiatives like Minecraft: Education Edition and BeIMCraft have allowed kids to socially reconnect with their peers while working on how to get better at Minecraft during lockdown.
In the future, Minecraft will continue to be a useful tool for educators and students alike as both look for ways to get more from the classroom. The infinitely-explorable, algorithm-created realms in Minecraft would span eight times the earth’s surface if they were in the physical world, ensuring there’s always another lesson to learn or building to build.
Minecraft allows instructors to connect real construction lessons about collaboration, structural integrity and sustainability to fun objectives that stimulate creativity and curiosity. Minecraft’s popularity is off the charts, and there are hundreds of millions of players that are interested in construction and design. The job market just has to wait for them to grow up.