Excitement is building in Timaru as construction work is set to begin on the $344million Scott Base Redevelopment Rebuild. And that proved the foundation for a virtual initiative for hundreds of local students to create the base in Minecraft.
Towards the end of last year Hayden Inkster and Rebecca Best, Timaru Kāhui Ako Digital Technology Leads, had an idea.
Around them the South Canterbury town was buzzing with the Scott Base Redevelopment Rebuild. What if they could harness this energy and engagement by involving as many of their schools as possible in a collaborative project to build this newly designed Scott Base using Minecraft Education Edition? Having recently completed work on a Ka-hui-wide Digital Technology framework, they saw this as an opportunity for the group to work together on an authentic community engagement initiative. Working with impactED, an MOE-accredited PLD provider, the project took shape and soon schools began signing up.
Snapped up quickly
With support from Antarctica New Zealand, the Kāhui Ako began working with schools to link the educational lessons from the organisation’s Education Hub (antarcticanz.govt.nz/ education-hub) into the immersive Minecraft experience.
Within the first two weeks of the project, more than 300 students, ranging from Year 5 to Year 10, had contributed to the Minecraft project.
“With Scott Base being so important to the region, opportunities to work on this authentic educational resource were snapped up quickly,” said impactED’s project lead Wilj Dekkers. “It soon became apparent that we needed to re-evaluate the timeline for the work.”
With the outer shell of the New Scott base completed in Minecraft earlier than anticipated, Antarctic New Zealand came to the rescue, providing the floor plans and the layout of the three new Scott Base buildings. With these in hand, Phase 2 of the project was able to begin with ākonga putting their maths skills to good use using scale and ratio and to develop the interior of the buildings.
“Antarctica New Zealand is delighted that the Scott Base Redevelopment is inspiring such fantastic learning in young people,” said Jon Ager, Project Director Scott Base Redevelopment. “The students’ Minecraft creation really does look like the new Scott Base design and it’s fantastic that they are making the connection in the game with the work of New Zealand’s world-leading Antarctic science community”.
Antarctica New Zealand’s involvement will see scientists who have lived and worked at Scott Base, helping students to develop the interactions to take place in Minecraft, adding authenticity to the project and engaging learners with the experiences of professionals in their field.
“Students will not only be using Minecraft tools but also they’ll be learning to use editing software to create and animate animals indigenous to Antarctica, such as the Adelie penguin,” added Dekkers. “The learning taking place meets so many of the progress outcomes that are an integral part of the Kāhui DT framework.”
With a final term ahead developing Scott Base in Minecraft, approximately 400 students are expected to collaborate on the project.
The aim is to develop an immersive learning experience within Minecraft that would allow teachers, students and schools around the world to explore the new Scott Base. Students will be able to work with Antarctic scientists and Scott Base personnel (non-player characters in Minecraft), learning about their roles and responsibilities and develop a better understanding of the environmental importance of the work conducted there.
Students will complete both in-game and external learning experiences around the resource, culminating in groups and classes designing and building their own Antarctic research base on a space near the new Scott Base in Minecraft.
“It has been great getting buy in from so many students and having a wide range of teachers onboard from a number of schools,” said Rebecca Best. “The children have been completely hooked and we’ve been blown away by how quickly they could engage with this work and the progress that they have made.”
The final project will be submitted for publication on the Minecraft Educator website and will be freely available to everyone.
Learn more at timarukahuiako.nz/digital-technology/
About Scott Base
Scott Base is a New Zealand research station on Ross Island in Antarctica. Named after British explorer Robert Falcon Scott, it was set up in January 1957 and is operated by Antarctica New Zealand.
Last year, Antarctica New Zealand received funding from the Government to rebuild Scott Base. Consisting of three interconnected buildings housing up to 100 people, the new base will include an accommodation, dining and welfare building, a science and management building, and an engineering and storage area.
INTERFACE Magazine August 2022