During the last couple of months, I've been working in what's been one of the most instructive educational experiences that I've had in my whole career. This is the Sustainable Cities collaboration with Geography, that students in Year 9 are undertaking.
Students plan and design a city which is environmentally friendly and carbon neutral. They go on to create a 3D simulation of a sustainable high-tech city that uses existing/or soon-to-exist technologies and products with the goal of providing a healthy and enjoyable place for people to live and work in an environmentally sustainable way. The 3D simulation is created in Minecraft Education which has been specifically designed with educational objectives in mind, incorporating a wider array of practices in experiential learning that can broadly be described as game-informed and academically based.
The criteria for each design are that the city can meet its own demands for food and water for human beings. Streetlights will have solar panels. Homes run on solar panels. The students explore non-polluting means of transport. The city has adequate green spaces. Adequate public transport is provided, and public transport is non-polluting. The city has its own farmlands for producing crops. Animal husbandry is taken up in the city. The city provides safe and affordable housing for the people. The city has a recycling plant to recycle waste and access to fresh clean drinking water, as well as having a water treatment plants.
As educators we have been impressed at the level of student engagement, creativity and problem solving demonstrated. It has allowed students to get a new sense of themselves as learners as well as understand that learning is something valuable, that setting yourself a goal and working to achieve it is something worthwhile and attainable. It is extremely rewarding to see that in some cases students are changing their view of life, themselves and their role in the future.
The final results of their work will be published online at the end of the year, so keep watching this space!