by Lisa Whittaker, teacher at the WOW Zone
Placing emerald blocks, crafting tables and using a furnace are not ordinarily things that you would associate with primary-aged children. However, on the October 27th MinecraftEdu workshops hosted by The WOW Zone in Wythenshawe, this is exactly what over 30 young people did!
The WOW Zone is Wythenshawe Community Housing Group’s learning centre that works with local schools on a variety of exciting, creative, technology-based projects. The WOW Zone team aims to raise children’s aspirations and equip them with the knowledge and skills to enter this modern age of computing. The feedback from this event, from both children and parents, proves how relevant an event like this really is. Mark, a parent from Wythenshawe, said:
‘Athena and Zanthe enjoyed the Minecraft workshop immensely. It’s great to see such forward thinking ideas that will introduce kids to the world of code, whilst allowing them to socialise and share ideas.’
The event, run by TeacherGaming, was part of their European tour, and saw children working collaboratively to navigate through the virtual world, build houses and program turtles. Mikael Uusi-Mäkelä, Learning Designer at TeacherGaming said:
‘Compared to all of the other places I’ve been on the tour, the room was very well equipped and the group actually worked well as a group, as opposed to working individually.’
Construction of a virtual house is much more complex than you might first imagine. Initially, student’s inventories were bare. They had to ‘mine’ for raw materials, and combine those materials to create new ones, thus learning about manufacturing processes and skills. Approaching Minecraft in an educational setting, using structured guidance, enabled the children to be creative without being destructive.
Daniel (aged 11) said:
‘It’s fun, it’s great and it helps educate!’
Primary school teachers are now expected to deliver programming and coding sessions as part of the new Computing Curriculum. MinecraftEdu covers objectives linked with coding in a discrete way, so that children don’t even realise that they are learning. The sessions highlighted the children’s natural affinity to the language of code.
Chris Jones, Computing & Solutions Expert for over 20 years, said:
‘They [children] take to it like a duck to water. I’ve never seen kids so excited and enthusiastic about anything before.’
The WOW Zone are proud to have been the North-West host on this tour, and will continue to deliver high-quality MinecraftEdu sessions as part of their unique offer to schools.