Minecraft for the STEM Classroom


Since its release in 2011, Minecraft has remained one of the most popular video games among teams, renowned for its simple block design and endless building possibilities. With creative and strategic game modes, the unique features of this video game create many possibilities for teaching problem-solving, critical thinking, and innovation in the classroom. Let’s explore some strategies for using Minecraft to teach STEM concepts.

Understanding Minecraft’s Educational Potential

Minecraft is a sandbox video game that allows players to explore and build in a virtual world made of blocks. In the game, players can gather resources by breaking blocks and then use these resources to create tools and craft structures. There are three main game modes: survival, creative, and adventure. In survival mode, players operate in a day-to-night sequence where harmful monsters hunt players down at night. Players must gather resources to keep themselves safe and fight off monsters. Creative mode provides players unlimited access to all resources, allowing them to create structures and complexes without resource limitations. Adventure mode is primarily used to explore mini-games created by other Minecraft players, like obstacle courses.

The open-world nature of Minecraft fosters creativity, exploration, and strategic thinking, providing players with unlimited possibilities for experimenting and innovating. Studies show that using Minecraft in the classroom can support student learning through project-based activities. In the classroom, teachers can use Minecraft to reinforce STEM hard and soft skills, enhancing students’ education in a fun and familiar way. 

Incorporating Minecraft into STEM Curriculum

Teachers and administrators can incorporate Minecraft into a STEM-focused classroom in various ways. Here are some examples of how Minecraft can improve students’ STEM skills.

Exploring Topographical Maps

Minecraft’s Creative mode can aid students in their understanding of topographic contour maps, an essential skill for those interested in civil engineering and city planning. In this mode, the game allows players to fly over the terrain, allowing them to view elevation and biome changes. Minecraft’s virtual world includes several biomes, including forests, snow, and deserts. The game also includes topographical features like hills, mountains, rivers, and lakes. This is an exciting way for your students to learn about elevation and depth (contour lines) and to analyze the size and shape of topographical features like they would on a real-world map.

Time Management and Project Planning

Minecraft’s survival mode is the perfect opportunity for students to learn how to properly manage their resources and time, which are crucial skills for various STEM careers. They must collect and disburse multiple resources and learn how to divvy them out in a controlled manner. This mode also allows students to learn how to collect and mine specific resources using different tools. Then, they must utilize those resources for building houses, roads, and bridges. A crafting table allows them to use their resources to build additional tools and doors. This gives students a fun opportunity to put their time management and project planning skills to the test.

Basic Circuitry Using Redstone

Redstone is one of the more advanced technologies in Minecraft that allows students to make automated technologies. Redstone dust can be obtained by mining Redstone ore in caves and caverns. This dust conducts power like wires and follows a coding language that allows students to learn basic electrical engineering concepts like creating working circuits using inputs and outputs. This circuitry can be as simple as learning how to open a door using levers, buttons, or pressure plates or as complicated as learning how to play music or make a Minecraft computer. This understanding of circuitry can benefit students in later careers in engineering and technology.

Strategic Thinking in Survival Mode

Minecraft’s survival mode can also be used to develop students’ strategic thinking skills. In this mode, players must keep themselves safe from monsters and avoid hunger and exhaustion. This game mode requires students to make strategic decisions regarding resource and time usage, helping them entertainingly develop essential STEM soft skills.

Concluding Thoughts

The popularity of Minecraft amongst students of all ages makes this a great game to bring into the STEM classroom. By helping students develop skills like time management, basic circuitry, project planning, and more, Minecraft can support the integration of STEM into every classroom.

21stCentEd Can Help!

At 21stCentEd, we’re all about a strong tomorrow. We are deeply invested in creating interactive STEM tools for kids, helping them engage with STEM principles in an exciting and meaningful way. With our innovative learning tools and self-paced lessons, students can learn at their own pace and according to their interests. Set up a discovery call today to learn how we can make a difference in your classrooms!

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About 21stCentEd

At 21stCentEd, a strong tomorrow is what we’re all about. We’ve been deeply invested in creating interactive STEM tools for kids for many years.