We continue to receive stories from around the world about the powerful impact of learning through build challenges. Not only does it play to the strengths of all types of learners, but it engages students in collaboration, problem-solving, and friendly competition! Here’s a story from a GTP in Canada about a recent build challenge they ran called Future Frontiers. Get started with Minecraft: Education Edition for your students today, or dive into exciting subject kits on esports and more here.

Canadian students started back in classrooms in Sept 2020, but throughout the following 9 months many provinces and schools had to return home because of increasing COVID-19 cases and blended learning became the new normal.  The accelerated technology learnings from earlier in the spring helped teachers adapt and Logics Academy noticed that the adoption of Minecraft Education Edition in the classroom was continuing to grow.  As a result, the second annual Canadian Minecraft Challenge, Future Frontiers, was announced in early spring 2021: Future Frontiers | Logics Academy.

This year’s theme challenged students to create a future community on the Moon, Mars, or several destinations on Earth and it was a huge hit! Watch the overview video here.

To assist the educators to integrate MEE and the build challenge into classroom learning, Logics also aligned several new Minecraft lessons to grades/subjects and curriculum in provinces across Canada and organized some live support sessions.  Armed with the information they needed, teachers rallied their students to get creative, think big, and use all their tools to develop their worlds and enter the contest. Technology partners of Logics helped contribute to 3 top prizes including iPad’s, remote learning devices, and more.  After 8 weeks of intense building and collaboration, 275 submissions were entered!

The judging process was incredibly difficult and the level of talent, extraordinary.  In the end, we included 3 additional recognition categories and awarded all 70 winners (from 6 teams) a medal, trophy and/or a prize:

We recognized the top 3 the prize winners individually on live group calls and were able to share in their excitement.  These were recorded and included in our formal ceremony on June 15: 2021 Canadian Minecraft Challenge: Future Frontiers Awards Ceremony – YouTube. First and second place winners were both from British Columbia and fortunate enough to have experienced in-person learning for most of the school year.  The third-place winner was an online class from Ontario who collaboratively worked on several submissions despite their remote learning environment.

The first-place winners from A.H.P. Matthew Elementary school in Vancouver BC designed their world on a floating island “to be different from the modern generation,” but they also integrated local community elements and landmarks.  The team of girls was inspired by a popular song “Astronauts in the Ocean”, which to them spoke of feelings of not belonging and this resonated with the group.  Collaborating as a team was super fun for all involved, especially one member who was learning remotely and considered this project the highlight of her year!  Lots of lessons were learned by both the guiding teacher and the winners, and their success was celebrated by their school board and shared amongst all the Surrey schools: 2021 Minecraft Challenge Winners! (surreyschoolsone.ca).  Hear firsthand from the team and their coach about why they participated.

“Minecraft Future Frontiers was an ideal learning opportunity. The Minecraft environment allowed for inquiry-based learning as students had to collaborate to design solutions to real-world problems. It was also cross-curricular as students researched alternative energy sources in Science, were able to develop their communication and presentation skills to strengthen Literacy, developed an understanding of elements of successful communities in Social Studies, as well as deepened their Technology and Engineering skills required to navigate the program and design the environments. Without even realizing the complexities and depth of their learning, students were engaged immediately in this hands-on, minds-on project for the 21st century.

“I would recommend any teacher to implement this with their students and empower them to become drivers of their own learning. Don’t feel you need to be an expert as a teacher or as a student. We all learned together, and that was the best part of the experience. Go for it!”

Vice-Principal, A.H.P. Matthew Elementary

The second-place team was a full class effort!  Twenty-seven grade 6/7 students from Waverley Elementary school in Vancouver BC participated in this team project and based their build on the moon, a community called “Waverland”.  You could tell from the entry that many different ideas and elements were combined to create this sophisticated futuristic city of connected domes. What an incredible feat!

“As a teacher, I found the Future Frontiers Challenge very worthwhile. So many core and curricular competencies were achieved. Students improved their communication, critical and creative thinking, and personal and social skills. The students were all very enthusiastic, motivated, and engaged. Each student was able to contribute to the overall success of the project using their particular set of strengths. It gave my class a sense of togetherness and they had so much fun that they didn’t realize how much they had learned.” Classroom teacher, Waverly Elementary School

The third-place team was a virtual class from Thames Valley District School Board in Ontario.  They had been learning exclusively online all school year and their teacher encouraged this project to promote team collaboration.  They chose Mars as the location since it has not yet been explored by mankind and seemed like a good challenge.

“As a teacher, I really appreciated how the world was designed.  Exploring the world and discovering its unique characteristics was very exciting for my students.  The videos and learning material that were embedded were a great place for my students to start their inquiry. The project challenged my students both academically and socially and, in a year, where we were working online, it forced them to come together with their group and create something unique which also added to our sense of classroom community.  We had so much fun!  My past students are still emailing me about this project.” Classroom teacher, Thames Valley District School Board

We were overwhelmed by the quantity and calibre of submissions and included 3 additional recognition awards for Musical Production, Special Effects, and most Creative Introduction.  These were won by Hillcrest Elementary School in Surrey, BC, Thames Valley Online School in London, ON, and General Wolfe Elementary School in Vancouver, BC.

As we start to plan for the 2022 Canadian Minecraft Challenge, we are considering a few changes based on participant feedback. There will likely be two different age/grade streams, Gr 3 – 5 and Gr 6 – 8, and we may also offer an e-sports option for those teachers/students interested in this format of the competition.  We hope to start the Challenge earlier in the year to allow for more build time and a May finish.

There is no doubt that Minecraft Education Edition is building momentum in Canadian classrooms and that students are developing skills that will position them well for future learning while team building and having fun.  Logics Academy looks forward to continuing to support their efforts with this ongoing Challenge!

For more information on how to engage your learners in esports and build challenges, start with these resources for Minecraft: Education Edition. Bring the joy of learning through play to your learners!