Mentor of the Week – Alexis Beard

My journey to becoming a Minecraft Global Mentor started through the eyes of my sons

My journey as a Minecraft Global Mentor began as an impulse to take something that my boys love and run with them in a world that they can learn in. One of my boys loves to build. He plays a number of building and engineering games, one of which is Minecraft.

He loves video games, he loves building games, but here is what he does, he takes the ideas that he plays within the computer world and engineers them into the real world. He first did this with Minecraft. He started to gather wood from the yard, the garage, and the street. He then started making swords and shovels out of wood. At first he just used duct tape to bind everything together and then asked me why there was no duct tape in Minecraft. He began to ask how we can cut the wood to make the shapes look more like they do in the simulator. Note, the game in his view evolved. It was no longer a game, it was a simulator. The software became a safe learning space to try out and test ideas. Ideas that he could translate into the real world. He didn’t only make swords and tools he also began to translate boats and buildings into real world. So far, all the boats and buildings are scale models. He started this journey when he was in the 5th grade and now is a 7th grader. He is already asking when I am going to get him a 3d printer! I see, first hand, as a parent and as an educator, the positive effect his experiences with “simulators” has had.

If my son has come this far with game and simulation tools, why am I not using them in my everyday classes for all the other sons and daughters that I am entrusted with every day? There is a reason to use game and simulation programming in your classroom, a safe space to experiment. A place to imagine.

Alexis Beard is a Minecraft Global Mentor and educator in Federal Way, Washington. He teaches Science and Technology at the Federal Way Public Academy.