Introducing Chemistry Update for Minecraft: Education Edition!
We are thrilled to bring chemistry into Minecraft with a new update for Minecraft: Education Edition. With input from chemistry teachers, students and Minecraft Global Mentors, the Chemistry Update offers educators and learners a fun, accessible way to explore chemistry within the immersive world of Minecraft. Make pigs fly with helium balloons, create underwater TNT or see what elements make up a grass block. If you can craft a pickaxe in Minecraft, you can learn chemistry. The free update will launch in early February for all Minecraft: Education Edition customers.
Science education is driven by hands-on learning, but only half of fourth graders in the U.S. do hands-on science once a week. In low income schools, the numbers are even lower, as students have less access to labs and equipment. Chemistry in Minecraft allows teachers to introduce chemistry concepts without the costs of lab equipment in the engaging Minecraft world that will inspire more girls and boys to explore the subject.
Tens of thousands of educators around the world are already using Minecraft: Education Edition to teach concepts like coding, the water cycle, photosynthesis and renewable energy. Now classrooms can explore chemistry with educator-created lesson plans, a brand-new Minecraft ‘World of Chemistry’ and a teacher’s lab journal to help get started. Using four new crafting tools, students can craft compounds and never-before-seen Minecraft items using chemistry, such as glow sticks, rapid grow fertilizer and underwater torches.
“Bringing chemistry to Minecraft not only helps spark interest in STEM, but also helps educators engage students in the scientific process, reinforcing creative problem solving and engaging experiments,” says Minecraft Education Director Neal Manegold. “Concepts like states of matter, structure of atoms and chemical reactions become accessible in Minecraft through the immersive world and these brand-new tools. We are excited to share not only the game updates, but also the collection of lessons, world and teacher’s guide to help educators on their journey with games for learning.”
As subjects like chemistry become accessible to more students, educators can help close the STEM gap holding many students back, especially girls and students of color. Accenture released a report in 2017 that surveyed 8,500 young people across the UK. Among the 7-11 age group, 50% of the girls described STEM subjects as “fun,” but this number fell to 36% in the 11-14 age group.1 This significant drop in the number of girls studying core STEM subjects impacts how many go on to attain secondary degrees (only 9%).2 Women make up only 23% of STEM jobs in the UK.3
Dr. Kate Biberdorf, Ph.D., public outreach director and lecturer at University of Texas, thinks adding chemistry to Minecraft could be a game-changer for introducing students to the subject. “Even the most basic concepts can be hard to learn without the freedom to experiment,” she said. “The best way to learn is to try and fail, and try again – and that’s what games like Minecraft do best!”
The Minecraft Education team will be previewing the Chemistry Update at BETT this week to thousands of educators from across Europe. One of the world’s largest education technology conferences, BETT brings together over 34,000 attendees from over 100 countries in London, United Kingdom. We will be running workshops and demo presentations each day of the event facilitated by Global Minecraft Mentors, and we encourage attendees to stop by the Minecraft booth to try the chemistry features firsthand.
Above, two middle school students in Renton, Washington, explore the Chemistry Resource Pack demo.
What’s new about the Chemistry Update?
There are four new crafting stations that offer innovative ways to combine and reduce materials. The Chemistry Resource Pack also adds element blocks to your inventory. Learn more about how to use the crafting stations in the downloadable Teacher’s Lab Journal, which provides a visual inventory of chemistry in Minecraft.
- The Element Constructor allows you to create elements based on their atomic structure with sliders to choose the number of protons, neutrons and electrons. By using the Element Constructor, you can create 118 elements from the Periodic Table as well as over 400 stable isotopes.
- With the Compound Creator, you can add elements to the grid and the resulting compound will appear for you to use in Minecraft. Create over 30 compounds with this tool – from luminol and hydrogen peroxide to charcoal and soap.
- The Lab Table allows you to create Minecraft items by combining elements and compounds in a grid. For example, adding water and sodium hypochlorite makes bleach, which a player can use to turn wool white.
- The Material Reducer reduces a block to its component elements, providing a useful way to explore the elements that make up our environment. Some blocks in Minecraft do not exist in the natural world, and we’ve added a “?” element for these as well to encourage curiosity of learners.
The Element Constructor is one of the new crafting tools included in the Chemistry Resource Pack.
How can I access the Chemistry Resource Pack?
UPDATE (21 February 2018): The Chemistry Update is available as an in-game resource pack for all users of Minecraft: Education Edition, along with ten lesson plans, the Minecraft ‘World of Chemistry’ and teacher’s lab journal. The chemistry features complement other features in Minecraft: Education Edition that support computer science, language arts, history, math and more. All Windows 10 users will receive automatic update at the next login, and Mac/iOS users will have to reinstall Minecraft: Education Edition to access the updated version. Stay tuned on our social media channels @playcraftlearn for details on how to get started with Minecraft: Education Edition.
For more resources to learn and teach chemistry in Minecraft, visit http://education.minecraft.net/chemistry.
- Accenture, 2017. https://newsroom.accenture.com/news/accenture-finds-girls-take-up-of-stem-subjects-is-held-back-by-stereotypes-negative-perceptions-and-poor-understanding-of-career-options.htm
- WISE, 2017. The STEM Education Pipeline. https://www.wisecampaign.org.uk/resources/2017/11/from-classroom-to-boardroom-the-stem-pipeline-2017
- UK STEM Report, Royal Academy of Engineering, 2015