The Immersive Education Initiative (iED) launched its Minecraft “Builder Bowl” in June. Students in kindergarten through 12th grade are participating in the Builder Bowl and creating “immersive experiences, content, and applications.”
According to The Journal, the iED provides Minecraft accounts for kids involved in its programs. “It would have been criminal of us not to use it,” said Aaron E. Walsh, the iED’s founding director. The iED has been working with colleges since 2005, and expanded their program to K–12 in 2009. The organization felt that immersive education would be more effective with younger kids. In this inaugural Builder Bowl, they were flooded with sign-ups from kids of all ages.
In the future, Builder Bowls will involve virtual reality tech, simulations, 3D printing, and robotics. Minecraft is just the beginning. It’s a tool that millions of kids are inherently familiar with, on account of it having millions of players. Lots of schools already have Minecraft in the classroom, and both teachers and kids have experience with it.
The students will be working in teams on their creations, and the winners will be featured at IMMERSION 2015 in Paris in September. The theme of the conference is immersive technology and its impact on our lives. Games-based learning is included as one of the immersive technologies, and Minecraft is certainly a part of that. This year’s IMMERSION keynotes will be given by Katie Fico (Walt Disney Animation), and Melissa A. Carrillo (the Smithsonian Latino Center), and will focus on immersive arts, culture, and storytelling.
The students’ assignments actually sound awesome. In this elimination round, students have to build things inspired by Marvel Superheroes and Disney. If they make it to the championship round, they will be asked to create historical content focused on specific events.
And the winners of the championship? Their creations will be available for teachers to use in the classroom, where they can inspire the next generation of students.