Do Your Kids Love Minecraft? Use the Game to Build Their STEM Skills

I often hear that Minecraft classes are among the most popular STEM programs for kids. I’m not surprised. As the popularity of this interactive video game has endured, STEM providers have recognized its potential for educational purposes and developed programs devoted exclusively to Minecraft. The creative, adventurous, and world-building nature of Minecraft lends itself well as an educational tool in both imaginative and productive ways.

In these programs, kids aren’t just playing Minecraft; they use the game to explore and learn about academic subjects like coding, animation, art, engineering, ecosystems, and architecture. Its creator, Mojang Studios, describes some of those applications in a short video about the Minecraft Education Edition, which many educators use in their classes.

minecraft-project-using-and-gates-to-create-a-piston-door
An Empow Studios’ student used AND gates, learning about electrical engineering concepts, to create a piston door that requires a lever password to open.

What do kids learn in Minecraft classes?

You are sure to find a diverse range of options, but most programs are based on the idea of learning through play. The types of programs offered are broad, as are the approaches to teaching. Some follow a traditional classroom teaching style, while others place students into groups or teams; for more experienced Minecraft players, some pose creative or technical challenges. Minecraft classes and camps cover various topics or themes, such as architecture, electrical engineering concepts with Redstone, or graphic design and programming while creating Minecraft mods. Some schools even teach chemistry using the Minecraft Education Edition.

You will find programs tailored to different ages, grades, and experience levels (beginner, intermediate, advanced). I recommend reviewing class descriptions and contacting provider organizations to find out what your child will be learning and which class is the best fit for your child’s age and experience with Minecraft.

I spoke with Nancy L., Regional Director at Boston-based Empow Studios. She said that Minecraft has been at the foundation of project-based learning at Empow Studios since they began teaching it in 2014. Nancy explained, “We started teaching Minecraft as an educational tool before Minecraft launched its Education Edition!” Minecraft camps and classes continue to be Empow Studios’ most popular, where students are constantly engaged in creating and building their custom projects. She added, “The best part is seeing more parents recognizing its creative benefits and educational value.” 

“I would say that learning how to build and do Redstone in Minecraft at Empow definitely helped me decide that I want to do Robotics in college.” 

Sam P., Lead Instructor Empow Studios

How to find programs

There are many different ways you can find Minecraft classes and camps. Here are some ideas:

At Your School — If you’re looking for a familiar setting (with no driving involved!), find out if your school offers Minecraft as part of its after-school enrichment programs. This is a low-key, low-pressure, fun way to try a Minecraft STEM program. 

Local Programs — Libraries, community centers, municipal recreation programs, and local STEM organizations are popular venues for Minecraft programs. To find classes in your area, search online for “Minecraft classes kids [include your city, state].”

National STEM Centers — If you’re looking for in-person programs outside of school, Code Ninjas and The CoderSchool have hundreds of centers around the country that offer Minecraft classes and camps.

Online Programs— Perhaps you don’t have time to drive to a class or there aren’t classes near you. Consider a live, online class taught by an instructor. You have a great deal of choice when selecting a program that will be a good fit for your child. Here is a selection of companies that offer online Minecraft classes with links to their programs:

Summer Camps — Minecraft summer camps are popular among kids! Many of the organizations listed here offer summer camps; you can also modify your online search to include “camp” in the description.

Free Programs — Microsoft offers live virtual Minecraft coding workshops and Code.org has Minecraft Hour of Code Tutorials.

Turning play to good use

If your child loves the game, why not parlay their skill and enjoyment into foundational or even advanced tech skills? Minecraft can be an effective gateway to exploring STEM topics, helping kids find connections between a game they love and STEM applications that transcend Minecraft. It can also be the hook needed to get a reluctant child to try a STEM program. Over the years, I have heard many students say they became interested in coding or engineering because they were curious to understand how their favorite computer games worked. It was the spark that led them into a deeper exploration of technical topics.

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