World Premier of ‘Refugee Dash’ – a Minecraft Minigame

The critics have spoken: “Powerful!” “Moving!” “Makes an impact!” On Thursday, April 28, the world got it’s first glimpse of Refugee Dash, a Minecraft minigame where you experience the struggle of a Syrian Refugee. Last week the Seventh grade Global Studies students at Brentwood School gave their annual presentations for Human Rights Day (formerly know as Global Awareness Day). For the creative component of this project, one student used Minecraft to demonstrate her empathy and awareness of the Syrian refugee crisis.

This project is an example of how Minecraft can engage students in learning and facilitate understanding of serious events that occur in the real world. I think she did an outstanding job representing the war torn environment, the urgency to the situation and the dangers of the journey.

Trailer, photos and a description of the project are below. 

p1Refugeedash p2FreedomDash

Students gave their presentations in classrooms and then at lunch time the computer lab was open with 5 computers set up for students to play Refugee Dash. Below are some photos testing the computers the day before and students playing during lunch.

NatalieRefugeeDash    PlayingFreedomDash  PlayingFreedomDash7   PlayingFreedomDash6

The project is described a follows:

2015-2016 Global Studies Service Learning Project: Human Rights and Human Rights Defenders

“Never doubt that a small group of thoughtful people can change the world. Indeed, it’s       the only thing that ever has.” — Margaret Mead
“Be the change you want to see in the world.”– Mahatma Gandhi

Essential question: How can I be a Human Rights Defender?
Introduction:  It has become a tradition in the 7th grade to end the year with a service       learning project that allows you to incorporate a DEEPER UNDERSTANDING of                 REGIONS we have studied, to engage in SOCIAL CHANGE, to foster and engender           empathy and COMPASSION, to learn about and hopefully connect with a HUMAN           RIGHTS DEFENDER , and to raise money for CHARITY.  As a class, we will brainstorm     possible regions and topics from which you and your group can choose.  This project       will entail both INDIVIDUAL and GROUP WORK.  It will culminate in a SERVICE                 LEARNING DAY at the end of May where you will be able to showcase you and your         group’s work.

This is one more example of the power of Minecraft as an educational tool. 

Next on the docket- a study of genetics in Minecraft. Stay tuned.


Girls Learning Minecraft with MinecraftEdu

There were 20 boys in my Exploratory class last semester. The next Exploratory class begins in two weeks and I hope to get some girls to sign up. I have been making references to Minecraft in my science classes this last semester and I heard many girls say things like, “What’s Mindcraft?” “I don’t know anything about Mindcraft.” I think you can see the problem here. So, I announced at assembly that I would offer a training course at lunch the next day for anybody interested in learning the game that was sweeping through our middle school. I knew everyone would forget, so I went around to some lunch tables and encouraged some of my girl students to bring their lunch and come up to the classroom. I think it is very important to get girls involved in technology, and Minecraft is a great way to do this. MinecraftEdu provides an excellent education version with an easy to use tutorial world for students. I watched a video by the Minecraft Teacher called Using MinecraftEdu – Part 1 – Introduction to learn how to set up the server tool; several clicks of the mouse and the server was up and running.

Some of my observations of the girls include: how engaged they were in the game. how social they were. their physical proximity to each other; they preferred to bring the laptops near each other, rather than work separately at the lab stations. Safety in numbers, maybe, while trying something new?

Did I miss anything?

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