The University of Maine has announced a new study to examine effect of Minecraft on interest in STEM fields.
In rural Maine, students will soon visit a 3-D world as part of a study funded by the National Science Foundation to determine if it builds their interest in science, technology, engineering, and math.
The $2 million dollar research grant will cover three years of study. “The use of computer games as a mechanism for teaching computer science concepts while also improving the effectiveness of the core curriculum is incredibly exciting,” said Professor Bruce Segee. “We believe that we will see an improvement in student learning across multiple areas.” Segee is the University of Maine professor leading the research project.
Minecraft is a popular pixelated open world game. It has been independently developed, and has sold over than 60 million copies since its release in 2009. Players mine blocks of materials to build structures and craft items necessary to play the game. There is a large community of gamers that have used the game to share structures, statues and machines with other Minecraft enthusiasts.
Segee and other investigators will create a curriculum for middle school students. They will use LearnToMod, software that is a browser based add on for Minecraft teaching players programming basics.
Similar studies are happening in the United States in rural and urban schools. Other studies are exploring the role of family income and demographics on STEM interest when they are paired with video games.