Science Hunters uses the popular sandbox computer game Minecraft to engage children of all ages about scientific principles in a novel and interactive way. Through guided activities, participants are able to learn about specific concepts and use their creativity to conduct their own research and potential create their own solutions to problems. The versatility and creative freedom of Minecraft is one of the reasons the game became so popular, and being able to tap into this popularity is an effective way to hook in pupils who may not think they are interested in the subject matter, but enjoy the primary gameplay loop of the Minecraft game. With a little preparation, interactive lessons can be created in any subject, although creating the virtual resources to accompany these lessons may take some considerable time commitment.
- Children 3-6
- Children 7-12
You can do it with all those groups, but we did it with professionals from different fields like public engagement or the cultural and creative sector.
The framing of these Science Hunter activities allows for an alternative spin to be given to the lesson structure and provide an experience that is “fun, enjoyable and different”, in which lesson objective can be completed in a novel way and context. The structure of this activity can allow for opportunities for participants to demonstrate what they have learnt, as well as consolidate the information through the nature of the gameplay.
Minecraft is enjoyed by many children and young people and can be used as an effective hook to get participants to engage with the lesson topics. In addition, by giving the participants a chance to create something for themselves, the learner can take greater ownership and can be a more active participant within their own learning. Depending on the format of the lesson, this activity can be highly inclusive in nature and facilitate communications and could be a great benefit to those with particular SEN requirements.
Hobbs, L., Stevens, C., Hartley, J. and Hartley, C., 2019. Science Hunters: an inclusive approach to engaging with science through Minecraft. Journal of Science Communication, 18(2), p.N01.
This activity can be conducted as part of classroom-based learning, or as part of an extra-curricular club, such as an IT or STEM club, or can be planned as part of a science engagement event. Although it is recommended that these events take place in a location where participants are able to access computer equipment, versions of these activities can be conducted using building blocks, such as Lego.
The structure of the activity needs to be pre-planned in advance, to ensure that the lesson objective can be met effectively and that the participants are able to complete the task in the desired timeframe.
It is recommended that you test out the lesson plan before the event. The person leading the activity should introduce the concept and talk through how the participants can use Minecraft to solve a problem. Activity sheets might be required to inform participants of the tasks they need to achieve, or how to answer a series of questions based on the topic. Once the topic has been introduced, it is then time to allow the participants to use Minecraft to explore the subject matter further, this is usually done by setting tasks such as creating a model example using the creation tools within Minecraft, but more elaborate tasks can be created as you gain more confidence in how the game mechanics work.
After the participants have finished the tasks within Minecraft, it may be worth spending a little time where the students are able to speak about the work they have completed or describe what they have created in Minecraft, and how it relates to the lesson topic. This could be done as a presentation, or as a simple sharing exercise with other participant groups.
This activity does require a high number of computers/laptops/tablets, all with the Minecraft available to its users, although alternative methods could be used using building bricks. However, having access to such high numbers of computers may be a difficult requirement for some.
A number of lessons are available for free at
Covering the subjects of Environmental Chemistry and the periodic table, lessons about rainforests and how your pancreas processes the sugar in the human body.