Math is an important subject for students. Mastering math skills is critical as it encourages students to think creatively and develop logical reasoning, which is highly necessary for our day-to-day lives. We use math in so many ways; whether we are managing money, cooking a recipe, shopping, or analyzing time, distance, and the cost of going on a vacation, we are using math skills everywhere. Therefore, it is crucial for students to be good at math to sail through life smoothly.
The past few years have seen a remarkable shift in how math is taught in class. Educators have realized the need for new strategies to engage students as a typical math session is not very effective in instilling a desire to learn and understand math concepts.
Of all the new techniques and tools employed to impart a good learning experience, Minecraft has gained significant popularity in recent years. But before we discuss how Minecraft is beneficial in teaching core mathematics concepts, let us first understand what it is.
Minecraft – Is it a game? A learning tool? or both?
Minecraft is primarily a sandbox video game. It is developed by Mojang Studios. Players get to explore a three-dimensional world with infinite terrain where they can build simple machines and interesting structures using blocks. Minecraft allows you to create anything that you can imagine.
Interestingly, this game has found another purpose, and that is supporting students in the learning process. Teachers are now using Minecraft to reinforce learning of different subjects, especially mathematics. The immersive digital learning experience is apt for students born in the digitally savvy world. The game surpasses the traditional math worksheets and manages to keep kids engaged for a longer time while letting them practice math skills in a fun and creative way.
Another fun aspect of this game/ educational tool is that students can create their world and invite other students to visit and explore it. Teachers can even make teams of up to 30 students for an activity. All you need is a Mojang account, a genuine email account for verification, and a desktop, laptop, iPad, or Xbox to get started.
How Minecraft assists in improving mathematical literacy?
According to the International Bureau of Education, mathematical literacy is related to a student’s ability to analyze, reason, and communicate thoughts effectively as they solve and interpret solutions to mathematical problems in different situations.
Using Minecraft in the math classroom helps improve math literacy which is crucial for a student’s overall development. A research report was developed to understand the educational impact of Minecraft’s education edition. The study concluded that students using Minecraft displayed remarkable progress in understanding math concepts and developed confidence in the subject.
With that said, let us look at how Minecraft benefits the students in getting better at math.
1. Improves Problem-Solving Skills
Math requires a student to be good at problem-solving. Without this skill, students cannot work their way out to solve a problem. A survey reports that 98% of teachers believe that problem-solving is the topmost skill that students learn by integrating Minecraft with their math curriculum.
2. Expands Computational Thinking
Minecraft allows students to practice and expand their computational thinking by breaking down a complex problem into smaller parts for better understanding and explanation. Improved computational thinking helps the students in analyzing data and applying quantitative relationships where required. Minecraft allows students to design and build models of things found in the real world, thereby enhancing their computational thinking.
3. Encourages Critical Thinking
Critical thinking is necessary for solving math problems as it helps students make thoughtful decisions about how to go about a problem rather than simply guessing and applying a rule without understanding its relevance. Minecraft pushes the students towards higher order thinking, making them think logically to solve problems, find creative solutions and implement relevant actions.
4. Improves Numeracy
Numeracy is the capability to identify and use mathematical concepts when required. Using Minecraft, students work on improving their numeracy skills, such as counting, sorting, identifying patterns, addition, subtraction, solving word problems, and so on.
5. Increases Analytical Thinking
Analytical thinking and math are linked to each other. Without analytical thinking, students will have a tough time understanding a situation in a problem, scrutinizing and breaking down facts to solve the problem. Through the three-dimensional approach that Minecraft offers, students can understand the problem in a better way, work on reasoning, and find solutions to develop proficiency in the subject.
6. Helps Build Logical Skills
Solving math needs logic. You need to think logically to analyze and solve a problem. When solving math in Minecraft, students use their logical skills to think in a disciplined manner so as to analyze the given information and find ways to arrive at a conclusion.
7. Develops Spatial Reasoning
Spatial reasoning is the ability to visualize things in three dimensions. It helps you understand the position and dimensions of an object in a 3D environment. By using spatial reasoning skills, students can visualize numbers linearly, mentally arrange them from the smallest to the largest, and work on problems mentally. Minecraft provides a great platform to practice spatial reasoning skills, like how objects appear from different angles, how they would look when sliced from the middle, and so on.
8. Permits Manipulation of Numbers
Students can use their creativity in infinite ways to manipulate numbers in the form of blocks in Minecraft. Just like physical manipulatives, Minecraft helps students develop an understanding of mathematical concepts and solve problems. It engages students by providing a virtual learning experience of math concepts.
9. Allows Students to Create Their Visual Math World
Being able to create a world of our own is the best part of using Minecraft. You can involve the students by asking them to represent long division by stacking blocks one over the other or make trees using the concepts of prime factorization. Finally, you can ask them to chase each other in this virtual world to add a little fun element to the learning process.
What are the other benefits of using Minecraft as an educational tool?
Besides the numerous ways stated above through which Minecraft improves mathematical skills, the game has other benefits as well.
It also helps improve communication, collaboration, time management, creativity, teamwork, resource management, patience, and perseverance in students.
Some parents and teachers may question the use of virtual games in a school environment. They have every right to ask because a game can do more harm than good. Problems like game addiction and screen saturation are a matter of concern that can be addressed by maintaining a balance between gaming lessons and other learning methods.
The educational potential of Minecraft is massive. It can be employed to teach and practice mathematical concepts like counting, simple sums, area and volume, fractions, quadrants, integers, etc. That’s the reason why several American schools are integrating the use of Minecraft in their teaching process. Teachers can decide a definite objective they wish to achieve through the Minecraft lesson and proceed accordingly to make it worthwhile.
Minecraft can create a whole new world of possibilities for students to learn and explore. Using the game is a great way to support student learning in today’s time.
- Karsenti, T., Bugmann, J, and Gros, P. P. (2017) Transforming Education with Minecraft? Results of an exploratory study conducted with 118 elementary-school students. Montréal: CRIFPE.
- Wilder, L., Cook, M., & O’Donnell, R. (2014, August). Learning Mathematics through Minecraft. Teaching Children Mathematics, 21(1), 56–59. https://doi.org/10.5951/teacchilmath.21.1.0056