This summer, I’ll once again be offering a Minecraft camp for kids ages 8-13. While much of the camp is simply playing Minecraft and letting the kids do some PvP (player-vs-player), I try to incorporate some “learning” experiences. In the past, I’ve shown them how to import 3D models they create in Tinkercad into Minecraft, and they’re blown away by the giant castles that I can “build” in less than five minutes using imported Thingiverse models and the MCEdit tool. We’ve also created 3D images of their in-game buildings that we print and use 3D glasses to view. I’m always on the lookout for new experiences for my campers that allow them to enjoy Minecraft while learning something new or getting their eyeballs away from the screen for a bit.
In a case of perfect timing, Quarto has just released its Unofficial Minecraft STEM Lab for Kids book, and it is OUTSTANDING. The book is divided into six QUESTS:
Quest 1: Pistons, Rails, and Redstone
Quest 2: Construction Zone
Quest 3: The Sky is Not Your Limit
Quest 4: Rocks, Minerals, and Gems
Quest 5: Cycles in Science
Quest 6: Engineering Challenge
Each QUEST covers a unique aspect of learning some STEM-related topics within Minecraft and outside of the game. Inside the full-color book, you’ll find four LABS associated with each QUEST. Each Lab is divided into two parts: an in-game exercise or challenge and an out-of-game hands-on experiment or project. As an example, here is one of my favorites:
Quest 4: Rocks, Minerals and Gems
In-game experience: Construct a model of the Earth’s interior using different types of Minecraft blocks
Out-of-game experience: Create a soil layer-cake using different mixes and crumbles—and you can eat it!
In-game experience: Move from Stone Age to the Iron Age within Minecraft using only specific game tools and blocks
Out-of-game experience: Create an electromagnet using copper wire and a battery
In-game experience: Create an in-game volcano and trigger the eruption with redstone and TNT
Out-of-game experience: Use common household ingredients to create a foaming volcano
In-game experience: Use the new Bone block to create and hide dinosaur skeletons in the game for friends to find
Out-of-game experience: Use cornstarch and water and dinosaur toys to create a chip-away excavation experience
The book is simply amazing, and teachers will find a chart in the back of the book with how each project relates to Classroom Standards. But parents and camp instructors (like me) are going to find this book an invaluable resource for using Minecraft to teach (or sneak in) some real-world projects and hands-on activities. There are dozens of links in the back of the book for kids to continue their research into topics that grab their interest, too.
Summer is just around the corner, and whether your child is taking a Minecraft camp or just enjoying playing the game at home with friends, you are sure to be able to sneak in some learning opportunities and link them to your child’s interest in Minecraft with the 24 Labs found in this book.
Note: I’d like to thank Quarto and Onalee for providing me with a review copy of Unofficial Minecraft STEM Lab for Kids.
Other Minecraft-related Posts: