What is Minecraft Dojo?

Minecraft Dojo is a creation of kidOYO®

The first Minecraft Dojo event took place August 19th - 21st, 2013 at Brookhaven National Lab in Upton, NY on Long Island. As you would expect, the event started with a big bang of technical chaos! The first hour was pure madness! There were 25 students, half with their own laptops, half with laptops provided by BNL as host, all eagerly waiting to log into the Minecraft Dojo server... and... bwaa bwaa bwaa... technical failure.

Have you heard of our mantra at kidOYO? Well, many of the kids had... and their parents were in the room too, all very familiar with the "fail forward" methodology of our programs. So that is what we did. We fixed BNL machines, we fixed install errors of the software we were using to run the event, and we managed chaos one step at a time... and we finished the first of three 2 hour evening events moving forward.

In the ensuing evenings, students interacted with their environment and formed teams that were assigned tasks. Students were dispersed throughout the room, but connected within the MinecraftEDU mod as team members working on constructive tasks. Patterns quickly emerged; and as the teacher-leaders within the game, it became clear where our efforts and interventions were needed. "Griefing" provided an opportunity for student leadership to emerge, and young students in the class assembled an "anti-griefing brigade" in social collaboration after the event.

The immersion within the virtual world and the directed effort by students picked up pace with each event, but it was not until evening 4, an unscheduled extra session offered as compensation for the technical failures experienced on night one, that we truly experienced what was possible with the tool. Of the 25 original students, 18 were able to log in to the server from their home computers. The drop-off a mixture of conflicting schedules and file management complexity that unfortunately could not be resolved well enough, even with remote support.

For 3+ hours, 18 kids built the Relativistic Heavy Ion Collider (RHIC) and ran experiments attempting to use red stone to simulate gold ions circling the build path and exploding in a release of energy that could be observed from the STAR and PHENIX observatories they had built. Some kids built a Maker Lab, where tools and resources were created and managed for the whole of the student body. Some students ran experiments, others dug and learned the basic controls of Minecraft.

The mixed ages (9-14) of students sorted themselves out by the complexity of tasks being engaged. As we watched and engaged we witnessed a natural order form for how MinecraftEDU could be used in multiple age settings and for different educational outcomes.

And so it is on this foundation that we are running this server, and offering these opportunities to kids who want to learn about Minecraft, learn within Minecraft, learn how to build with Minecraft and learn how to mod Minecraft with Java code. Minecraft Dojo is a managed educational effort designed for collaborative learning. Students, teachers, mentors, parents, all in an act of discovery... a tool that can and is changing what is possible in the lives of young people. Some education leaders at BNL have even said that "Minecraft is the most important innovation for education in the past 20 years"... and we are willing and able to test that theory.

As a parent, I am having the same experience with this game that most every other parent is... it is something of a universal experience at this point... but I am going to go one step further with it, and I want to offer the opportunity to others to come along for the experience. Minecraft has allowed me to be involved with teaching 8 year old students how to write code in Java. The motivation in students to learn is off the charts, and they are experiencing practical success. So what about learning quantum science in Minecraft? How about Roman history? How about entrepreneurship and economics? What can't be taught using Minecraft?

Get in touch with us if you are interested in finding out.