JUNEAU, Alaska (AP) — It can be hard to peel a young person’s eyes off the screen. Rather than fight the electronic glue, some educators are embracing kids’ tech-obsession and finding ways to incorporate computer games into the classroom. None has been more popular than Minecraft.
“Gaming in education has been gaining steady popularity particularly with the proliferation of iPads in the classroom,” said Lee Graham, coordinator of Education Technology and associate professor at the University of Alaska Southeast School of Education. “So, as we were looking at games — many of which really have no educational value or redeeming value at all — Minecraft … came to the forefront.”
Minecraft should be easy to explain. Colin Osterhout, who recently completed his master’s in Ed-Tech through UAS, describes it as digital Legos, the Juneau Empire (http://bit.ly/1Ew06Wj) reported. It’s a lot more than that, though.
Minecraft is a “sandbox” game. It’s an open, virtual world with a lot of freedom. Users manipulate the world by mining and building, and mirroring the real world, what can be built can be pretty amazing.
Osterhout learned about a modification for the game that allows programming inside Minecraft. Users can build circuits, gate switches and more. He’s seen a fully functioning calculator built within Minecraft. It’s also possible to explore engineering and physics, even calculus in Minecraft.
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