Digital games - Applied science

Tutorial and Lesson plans to teach STEM using gamification

Supported by Microsoft

What is it?

Microsoft is a multinational technology company historically known for their software, and more recently for their hardware. Thanks to the usage of Microsoft products, generations of students have been able to use technology to learn.

Microsoft has always given a significant place to digital games, and this is how small games like "Minesweeper" were included in Windows, a flight simulator could be found as a Microsoft Easter Egg in Excel 97 or Microsoft Game Studios created the famous "Age of Empires" game.

Microsoft in Education's mission is to empower every student and educator to achieve more. The core of this mission is to create immersive and inclusive experiences that inspire lifelong learning, stimulate development of essential life skills, and support educators in guiding and nurturing student passions. Microsoft goal is to inspire students and educators to create and share in entirely new ways, to teach and learn through exploration, and to adapt to individual learning needs so they can make, design, invent and build with technology.

One of Microsoft's flagship game in this field is the Minecraft Education Edition, a digital game where creativity, collaboration and problem solving are fostered. A sandbox game with an open world were STEM concepts can be addressed and truly engage students. Students can use Minecraft to identify issues and solve problems using Inquiry-Base Learning.

The STEM Alliance repository of practices provides Minecraft lesson plans and a tutorial, that will help the teacher to navigate through the installation, introduction and main features of the educational environment of Minecraft.

The lesson plans propose activities like class discussion, independent or cooperative group activities, homework and assignments.

Who is it for?

These lesson plans and the tutorial were developed by Microsoft to be used by teachers with students aged 14-16 years old.

The activities are really interactive and engaging, they can also be used with older students as a way to retain previous concepts.

What are the strengths and opportunities?

Digital games can provide teachers a great tool to bring concepts into the classroom in a new and interactive way. The usage of these kind of games in education is called "Gamification", a great opportunity to raise the interest and attention of students as they are learning and having fun at the same time.

Minecraft foster creativity and problem solving skills. Students will be able to create and discover by themselves solutions to problems while playing.

Another advantage is the amount of material related to Minecraft available on Internet. Teachers will be able to find communities of users sharing tips and tricks about the game and its integration in education.

Minecraft allows to explore the world without leaving the classroom.

Tips and tricks

Minecraft Education Edition can directly be downloaded. The teachers and pupils will be able to practice crafting skills using the tutorial, starting to create the new world - learning how to control a character and creating simple blocks.

The knowledge base of the tutorial contains the most important information regarding installation, availability, main game features, teaching, and more. Additional features are available for teacher's use: video testimonials, where teachers share their experience and impression about Minecraft education platform.

After using the tutorial, the teacher will start planning lessons. Each lesson provided by Microsoft to support Minecraft use in class tackles a specific topic and can be used through various STEM subjects (physics, Environment, biology, etc..). STEM concepts tackled include:

  • Gravity models
  • Electricity and solar panels
  • Resources management
  • Deforestation
  • Unbalanced ecosystem and loss of biodiversity