Here at E-Line Media we’ve been working hard on a new, exciting project: teaching principles of quantum mechanics to kids through Minecraft. When I say this in conversation, I get reactions ranging from skeptical to shocked. Learning quantum mechanics is usually not in a kid’s normal curriculum, and Minecraft does not model much classical physics, not to mention quantum physics. But the truth is, understanding quantum physics will become more and more important through upcoming years and decades. Scientists are harnessing quantum principles to explore radical new technologies and concepts, including some that are already being built, like quantum computers. Joel Levin (MinecraftTeachr, TeacherGaming) says in this post:
By the time our 7-year-olds finish grad school, quantum computers may be commonplace. A fundamental shift is on the horizon. Some of the hardest problems in medicine, aerospace, statistics, and more will be tackled by machines using qubits instead of bits. And it is the kids of today who will research, build, and utilize this revolutionary new class of hardware. And to be perfectly frank, too few children are exposed to these sciences or are encouraged to pursue them as a career path.
That’s why we teamed up with TeacherGaming (the folks behind MinecraftEdu), quantum specialists at the California Institute of Technology, and our friends at Google to make qCraft, a mod of Minecraft that exposes basic principles in quantum mechanics. This mod includes blocks that have different properties depending on where you observe them, blocks that exist in superposition (multiple states at once) until you observe them, and the ability to entangle blocks so that observing one will also affect its entangled partners. These features are not meant to give a rigorous, in-depth look at the math and physics behind quantum mechanics. Instead they are a gateway for kids to play with and create worlds where the weirdness that happens on the quantum scale is manipulatable at an observable scale.
If you have students who play with and design systems in Gamestar Mechanic, or are builders and creators in Minecraft, the qCraft mod will let them use their game design and building skills to explore a new and fascinating area of science. Check out the qCraft site, wiki, and blog to learn more about the mod. In a few weeks, we’ll also be releasing a classroom curriculum featuring a teacher guide and MinecraftEdu maps to provide teachers with resources for using the mod with students. Stay tuned for more info on the curriculum and if you’re interested in helping us to beta test it by providing some early feedback, please let us know via email at educators at qcraft dot org.
Looking for something super fun to do with your students this month? Look no further. Our partner MinecraftEdu has teamed up with Toontastic on a contest for kids to show what they are learning by playing Minecraft starting October 7th. There’s even created a Common Core-aligned Mission Plan and a Launchpad Toytivity to help teachers and parents work with kids to create their contest entries teaching others their favorite Minecraft activities.
Here’s how you enter:
Create a Minecraft “How Toon” on Toontastic that teaches other kids your favorite Minecraft activity.
Submit your cartoon to the contest between October 7th and October 17th, 2013.
Share you How Toons with friends and family on Facebook and Twitter – each like, share, comment and tweet counts as a vote for your cartoon!
At the end of the contest, the cartoon with the most votes will win a “How Toons” Prize Package from Launchpad Toys and MinecraftEdu. For more information, check out the post over at Toontastic.
In light of E-Line Media’s new partnership with MinecraftEDU we’ve been playing a lot of Minecraft in the office. Last week E-Line’s entire development team in Seattle played Joel Levin’s (@MinecraftTeachr) mod called Hungercraft. In Hungercraft, players explore the world of the Hunger Games in a setting 75 years before Katniss’ rise to fame. Each person enters the Minecraft mod as either a member of the oppressive Capitol or a lowly coal miner of District 12. The only place the two groups in the game can meet is the trading room, where they can choose to trade coal for food. The Capitol needs coal to make food, and District 12 has no access to food, but plenty of coal. There are no right or wrong ways to solve the conflict in Hungercraft; teams can cooperate, orchestrate an uprising, battle, steal, etc.
We weren’t the only group to try out Hungercraft. This article in the Huffington Post’s Blog describes the experience of Hungercraft with two groups of high schoolers at Brooklyn Public Library. For these high schoolers, Hungercraft started out civil, with each side trading their goods. But when an instigator from District 12 broke into the Capitol, conflict was unavoidable. The teens wrote about the experience:
“We viewed this event as an opportunity to open our minds. Sure it was very fun and entertaining, but the teens from both groups also went away realizing the need for better communication and delegates, increasing the significance of the United Nations. These revelations all occurred within the walls of the Brooklyn Public Library. Who said video games aren’t educational?”
At E-Line, our teams spent their time finding loopholes and resources on their own sides before interacting at all. Once District 12 had scrounged up their own food without asking the Capitol, they prepared for attack. It’s good to know resourcefulness and independence are prevalent qualities at E-Line!