Minecraft, the indie-success video game that has sold more than 20,000,000 copies in under two years, is now coming to the American Museum of Natural History. Its players learn how to “mine” natural resources in their unique, resource-rich world and then “craft” the objects required to explore its many natural biomes.
I started working in the museum last October. I spent a lot of time just hanging out talking with people. One was a 4th grader I met outside the Discovery Room. For no reason at all, he asked me if I played Minecraft. I said I did. And, in fact, I said, “We might have a program here with Minecraft next year.” He was the first young person I shared the idea with. I wanted him to be excited about it. Instead he thought for a bit then asked, “What does that have to do with natural history?”
Last January we hoped to answer that question with FoodCraft. Combining a custom-mod within MinecraftEdu with our special exhibit on food (Our Global Kitchen), we offered a day-long program focused on the complex and intricate food system that brings what we eat from farm to fork. Specifically, we looked at the cycle of food production, processing and transportation, in both Minecraft and the real world. Below is a video from that remarkable day:
We took a lot of lessons from that day, one being we needed to move beyond a one-day to an on-going, after school engagement. And today I am thrilled to announce that registration will now begin for our new Minecraft at the Museum program. In M@M, youth participants will enter our new private server. Designed with custom mods to teach science, early sessions will teach topics like geology and poison, in the Hall of Planet Earth, our new special exhibit The Power of Poison, AND in Minecraft.
Over the course of the program, as teens learn both science knowledge and Minecraft skills, they will gradually share management of the server and its content, collaborating to produce their own science-based Minecraft experiences and, if deemed worthy, open them up to invited visitors.
Now, when I ask youth what they think about Minecraft at the AMNH, they don’t question it. Instead, they recommend science-flavored mods they insist we use. If you know of any, please let us know below.
Oh, and here is an awesome flyer for the program: