Students and educator focus on the computer screens in the Minecraft Coding lab

Video – Students explore coding through Minecraft lab at Springfield Middle

Jan. 25, 2022 – Welcome to the Minecraft Lab at Springfield Middle, where teachers say students are being introduced to coding in a fun way. Watch this video to see how students are being impacted in this new, innovative environment.

Video Transcript

Tristan Zeigler/Biscayne Elementary Student: “I was like, Whoa, I didn’t expect it to be like this!”

Allison McGrath/District Specialist, Technology and Innovation: “Students walk in and they’re like, ‘This is amazing. This is the best day of my life!'”

Nadine Ebri/District Specialist, Technology and Innovation: “They’re getting so excited. They feel like they’re in a whole new world.”

Narration: This may look a lot like just fun and games, and some ways, that’s true. But the reality is that behind the lights, high-tech computers, and creative setup…is a very intentional and innovative strategy in using Minecraft to introduce coding to students.

Kassidy Johnson/Biscayne Elementary Student: “It’s really engaging and a lot more fun for students to learn in that classroom.”

Narration: This is the Minecraft lab at Springfield Middle School, and it falls under the district’s technology innovation team. While this lab is set up to benefit all students, teachers say they really want to ensure two specific groups are impacted: young girls and minorities.

Nadine Ebri/District Specialist, Technology and Innovation: “One of the goals is to really get younger girls into STEM. We really want to see more females and give everybody access to it. Because typically, girls don’t really have a lot of exposure to things like this.”

Allison McGrath/District Specialist, Technology and Innovation: “There’s so few women on and minorities in the field that we just want to boost that number and get everybody involved.”

Narration: While the lab is located at Springfield Middle, it’s available as a free field trip to students in grades kindergarten through fifth. Any teacher, no matter what they teach, can book time to bring their students in for standards-aligned lessons in areas like math, reading, and science.

Holly Lanham/Director of Technology Innovation: “As an elementary teacher, I’m excited to see kids think they’re coming in to play games this whole time…”

Narration: In using Minecraft as a vehicle, teachers are actually showing students how to code. And in no time, students begin picking up new tools and concepts, implementing them on their own.

Tristan Zeigler/Biscayne Elementary Student: “I liked how I could learn how to code. Like, I didn’t know how to code before, but now I do. And it’s way easier now. And I don’t think it’s hard anymore.”

Narration: Just a few months into its existence, the success of this lab ha been undeniable, attracting the attention of educators, news outlets and even Microsoft.

Nadine Ebri/District Specialist, Technology and Innovation: “Students are in a non threatening environment, and sometimes things that they weren’t able to do on a paper they can do through gaming.”

Narration: What’s more is that district staff say the lab is pointing students to the stem programs that exist within schools like Springfield Middle, and the gaming programs that exist in schools like Andrew Jackson. When it’s all said and done, leaders say this lab is about more than just offering a one-day experience. It’s about equipping this next generation for an increasingly STEM-focused workforce. And giving them all the tools they need to succeed.

Holly Lanham/Director of Technology Innovation: “If we can get students engaged and interacting and things like Minecraft, without them realizing they’re really going down that road, then our hope is that they will be a little bit more engaged and likely to go in maybe to a field that maybe they didn’t think about or weren’t even aware of at that time.”

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