Students learn coding through educational videogame

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  • By Senior Airman Timothy Moore
  • 86th Airlift Wing Public Affairs
Students from Kaiserslautern Middle, Vogelweh Elementary and Landstuhl Elementary schools had the opportunity to learn computer coding through MinecraftEdu on Oct. 16 and 17.

The opportunity was made available as part of the MinecraftEdu creator's European tour to raise awareness of social challenges schools are facing globally.

"The focus of the tour is to give back to the MinecraftEdu community, help teachers and raise awareness and excitement for computer programming in students," said Santeri Koivisto, MinecraftEdu chief executive officer and co-founder, in a pre-released statement.

MinecraftEdu is a school-ready remix of the Minecraft game, which allows players to build constructions out of textured cubes in a three-dimensional world. It was created by teachers for the classroom using a set of powerful yet simple tools to fine tune the experience for learning.

Xavier Flores, Vogelweh Elementary School fourth grade teacher, has been using the educational version of the game in his class for the past six months, integrating the software into his lesson plans.

"When they tweeted for volunteers to host the tours, I immediately replied volunteering our school," Flores said. "I never imagined they would actually come to visit!"

In order to help the students better understand the directions laid out in their programming scripts, the members of TeacherGaming also walked students through a physical grid placed on the ground.

Afterward, students moved to the second part of the workshop, which was centered on game design. Students learned what a game is, the different pieces to make a game and began creating their own videogames.

In the six months Flores has been using the software, his students have used MinecraftEdu to create scenes from books they have read during class, surveys they have conducted and graphs representing data they have collected.

According to the MinecraftEdu website, teachers in more than 40 countries use the software in every subject from science, technology, engineering and mathematics to language, history and art.

"It excites students because of the ease and simplicity of the game," Flores said. "The students are way better at the game than I am. They often have to tell me how to build or create certain features, but if I can tie their lessons into the Minecraft world and think of a way for students to demonstrate them, they will take care of the rest."

Information for this story provided by Xavier Flores