An outreach project which uses the computer game Minecraft to engage children with science.
Science Hunters engages children of all ages with science using the popular computer game Minecraft. They learn about scientific concepts and university research and try out some hands-on demonstrations before building their own related creations in the game.
Minecraft is an incredibly popular game, especially with children. It is an effective science communication tool, as it has many analogies to real-world processes which aid in explaining scientific concepts, and gives children a sense of ownership and expertise. Evaluations undertaken by the Science Hunters team indicate that use of Minecraft both attracts children who might not otherwise have engaged with science learning, and successfully improves scientific knowledge and understanding after participating in sessions.
The project’s approach follows a constructivist pedagogy, utilising anchored instruction and constructionism. Science Hunters has a Widening Participation focus, reaching children from under-represented groups and with a particularly strong record of working with children with Special Educational Needs, Looked After Children, and children from low participation neighbourhoods and eligible for Pupil Premium. Activities are delivered in schools, at public events and in regular Minecraft Clubs for children from specific groups.
The project is managed by SCU Research Fellow Dr Laura Hobbs, with collaboration between the SCU and Lancaster University, alongside other organisations interested in using Minecraft as a learning tool to explore the game’s efficacy in science communication. For example, ‘Exploring the molecular basis of diabetes with Minecraft’ is a multi-organisation project, led by UWE Bristol, which aims to engage children with learning about diabetes through the Science Hunters approach.