The 1st Philippine National Minecraft Competition
28 Jun 2021
Mylene Abiva is the President and CEO of FELTA Multi-Media, a Microsoft Global Training Partner located in the Philippines. In this guest post, she shares how her team helped students across the country navigate the pandemic with a build challenge centered on sustainable cities.
When lockdowns struck the Philippines last year, everything about the educational experience changed.
In March 2020, our team at FELTAMulti-Media, a Global Training Partner of Microsoft Philippines, knew that our students at iCreate Cafe Manila needed an alternative activity that would help them learn and have fun from the safety and comfort of their homes. And since one of the activities, we offer is Minecraft: Education Edition, we used Microsoft Teams as our online learning platform to continue the tutorials remotely. As a result, we began to see more and more students enroll in our online Minecraft: Education Edition coding workshop! We knew we were onto something…
Conducting workshops as a catalyst for change
iCreate Cafe Manila is a learning center and training subsidiary open to the public. In 2018, 40 teachers from the Philippines Department of Education's Alternative Learning System and 60 students from the School Division of Quezon City were the pilot for Minecraft: Education Edition at the center. The program successfully taught academic concepts to out-of-school students, keeping them engaged and motivated to stick with their schooling.
The Philippines' pandemic lockdown was one of the longest and strictest in the world. Students and educators had to transition to remote learning very rapidly—within a few weeks! FELTA Multi-Media immediately pivoted to digital platforms. Since we already taught with Minecraft: Education Edition at iCreate, it was the obvious educational solution for remote learning.
Our role as a Global Training Partner helped us focus on the game as a learning platform that builds creativity, collaboration, and problem-solving skills. We initially promoted the program within iCreate's regular membership, but eventually, schools and even the Department of Education onboarded into our Minecraft trainings. As a result, students across the country had the chance to participate in the 1st Philippine National Minecraft Competition.
A countrywide build challenge
In October 2020, we organized the 1st Philippine National Minecraft Competition to provide an opportunity for learners all over the country to showcase their work. We knew that Minecraft: Education Edition would be a great platform for encouraging the students to learn and share their brilliant ideas through a friendly competition. We've seen that most of the students wanted to inhabit worlds that reflected the places restricted to them in real life—beaches, churches, schools, shopping malls, forests, and mountains. Minecraft: Education Edition gave the students the liberty to express their desire to be outside the confines of their homes. It wasn't just a tool for learning but for emotional healing. The competition was an opportunity to uplift their spirits as they learned.
The theme for the 1st Philippine National Minecraft Competition was Renewable Energy, aligning with the United Nations' Sustainable Development Goal 7: Affordable and Clean Energy. The students created wind farms, hydropower plants, and city plans as part of their creative builds in two age categories: elementary/junior and high school. The students could participate either as individuals or as a group.
Nine-year-old Sofia Celyn Aban became our FELTA Minecraft: Education Edition Ambassador. She enjoys using Minecraft Education Edition and created her own YouTube channel, and she acted as a coach for younger students. Her videos are a testament to how young minds can support and mentor each other as they learn STEM in a fun and engaging way!
Over 160 students registered for the competition, representing both public and private schools nationwide. After the preliminary presentations, 49 students reached the final round featuring a special challenge: create a renewable city using Minecraft. The catch? They had to build the whole city using only code! Learners got to showcase not just their Minecraft building and programming skills, but also their ability to present their creations with the judges and audiences. Throughout the competition, the students built their time management, teamwork, communication, and literacy skills.
The Philippine National Minecraft Competition was a remarkable experience for the students who participated. Taking on the challenge during the quarantine made them see the brighter side of the situation and look forward to alternative and meaningful activities, despite the COVID-19 pandemic.
Watch the final showdown and see the winning creations!
The elementary level 1st place winner, Jamella Ronquillo from Aurora B. Quezon Elementary School in Manila, shared that the competition was a unique and special experience for her—unique because she didn't expect Minecraft to be a source of learning, especially in STEM. She said the experience helped her feel fulfilled during the months of lockdown and confinement, and she felt a sense of purpose and accomplishment when she won the top award.
In her own words:
It was very fun participating in the 1st Philippine National Minecraft Competition because I was given a chance to use my creativity to make my very own world in Minecraft. I practiced for about two months to make the perfect world. Because it was my first time using the platform, I coordinated with my coaches and researched techniques to get ideas on how to make my world and proceeded on to building and programming. I also let my coaches and family criticize my work and then listened to their suggestions on how I could make it better.
What I built was a simple world that showcased nature. There were animals in their respective mini zoos that mimicked their natural habitats. A wind farm that served as a resource in the form of wind energy to the villagers can also be spotted in the world. You can also see the dam I created. The purpose of the dam was to provide electricity and a water supply to the villagers.
At the end of making my city, I was very proud of what I built and what I learned from building it. Playing Minecraft was definitely a fun and enjoyable time for me. I will carry the learning I gained from the time I spent playing Minecraft with me in my future work."
The team at FELTA has huge goals for the future. We're currently targeting a major Minecraft: Education Edition rollout throughout the Department of Education, and we're even hoping to develop the Philippines National Minecraft Competition into an international event. We know that when we support students' needs and welcome them into flexible virtual environments that accommodate creativity, collaboration, problem-solving, and communication, they'll do incredible things!