As a former research scientist with a doctorate in physical chemistry, German Chancellor Angela Merkel will be familiar with the Bohr model – a diagram which depicts an atom as a small nucleus, surrounded by electrons that travel in a circular orbit. The last place she might expect to find it, however, is in a video game.
The German Chancellor, who opened this year’s Gamescom conference in Cologne, was treated to a virtual interpretation of one of science’s most famous diagrams as part of her visit to Microsoft’s Xbox booth, where she was greeted by a blocky representation of a building extremely familiar to her – the Reichstag – during Microsoft’s Minecraft: Education Edition demo.
Minecraft: Education Edition, which has been used by educators in schools around the globe, has proved itself to be a valuable, engaging learning tool which can introduce a new approach to study and learn about a huge range of topics, from science, geography and history, to art, architecture, and much more.
Chancellor Merkel’s booth tour saw her participate in a demo in which a student built a helium atom, before filling a balloon with the newly created gas, allowing animals to fly – an observation that would certainly stand out more in a student’s mind than mere words in a textbook.
One student, Florian Wilhelm, also joined the Chancellor on stage, explaining the benefits of the game and how it helped them learn the characteristics of the different elements in the periodic table: “It is much easier to learn all these details and elements in chemistry with Minecraft”, to which the Chancellor replied “This is observable chemistry.”
Deirdre Quarnstrom, GM of Minecraft: Education Edition also showed the Chancellor a few of the hundreds of lesson plans created by teachers from across the world, including lessons based on teaching economics, empathy, studying literature, and learning the German language.
“We were honoured to welcome Chancellor Merkel during Gamescom and have the opportunity to talk with her about how Minecraft: Education Edition can play a foundational role in today’s classrooms”, said Deirdre Quarnstrom.
“Educators and school leaders are looking for new ways to drive engagement in STEM learning, and research shows us that Minecraft’s unique ability to spark students’ creativity is a powerful way to do this. The work of teachers like Mirek Hancl show that with tools like Minecraft in the hands of educators, we can inspire the next generation of creators, leaders and innovators. We know it’s engaging, we know it’s working and we know it’s reaching both boys and girls.”
Chancellor Merkel concluded her tour by stating that “It is our duty to update all the conventional studying techniques for the new generation. Thank you.”
As Minecraft: Education Edition continues to grow, more and more children and educators will add to the creative potential of this growing community. To find out more information, please visit the official Minecraft: Education Edition website.