Scottish schoolchildren use Minecraft to hold largest ever architecture lesson

PaisleyMore than 400 schoolchildren have used Minecraft in their bid to set a new world record for the largest ever architecture lesson. The youngsters from Paisley took part in a class that used Minecraft: Education Edition to recreate local buildings, including the town’s Coats Observatory – the oldest public observatory in the country.

Two lecturers and an architect guided the children, from eight local primary schools, through the history of Paisley and helped them use code to create buildings in the game. They also designed Coats Observatory on paper before David Renton, West College Scotland curriculum and quality leader for computing, used co-ordinates and coding to create a replica of the building within Minecraft.

Jean Cameron, director of Paisley’s bid to become the UK’s City of Culture in 2021, said: “Paisley has some world-class architecture, and utilising this for digital learning is an excellent way to engage the younger generation, especially using the extremely popular Minecraft game.

“The legacy of our bid will be felt by the pupils who took part in this world record attempt, so it is important we teach them about the history of Paisley to allow them to develop a passion for the area, which they will carry into later life.”

The record attempt will now be sent to the Guinness World Records for verification. However, it is believed the Paisley schoolchildren have beaten the previous record set by Scottish-born teacher Stephen Reid, who used Minecraft to teach 341 students about historical architecture in Pennsylvania.

Neal Manegold, director of Minecraft Education, said: “Minecraft is a creative platform for any student, and becomes even more powerful when players can create together. The Minecraft education team is excited to see this study of architecture on such a large scale, involving mathematics, design thinking and collaboration to achieve learning goals. This is a perfect example of how Minecraft: Education Edition is really only limited by our imagination.”

Among the many challenges – but also opportunities – for Scotland’s educators today is how to best harness the range of technologies now available and how to use them to enhance the learning experience. Join FutureScot on 23 November for our EduTech 2017 conference, where leading experts will discuss how the latest technology can help engage pupils, enhance the learning experience and encourage innovative new approaches to teaching, inside as well as outside the classroom. Plus, on 30 November EduTech – FE&HE.

As part of the world record attempt, each school that was represented will receive a copy of Minecraft: Education Edition to help them teach pupils and create coding clubs.

Minecraft: Education Edition allows pupils to collaborate easily inside the popular block-building game. Teachers can also take photos of work and create plans, guides and chalkboards to help with a range of subjects, from maths and physics to history and languages. Sample lessons include “City Planning for Population Growth”, “Exploring Factors and Multiples” and “Effects of Deforestation”.

Minecraft is one of the most popular computer games of all time, with 122 million copies sold to date – including four to people in Antarctica. Since the beginning of 2016, more than 53,000 copies have been sold every day, and 55 million people play Minecraft every month.