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Minecraft video game helps educate students
Minecraft fans join together at the North Hall Technology Center for Minecraft Extravaganza. The special program is designed to use the popular game with specific modules to teach georgraphy and mathematics.

About 41 middle- and high-school-age kids converged on the North Hall Technology Center on Thursday to play the popular video game Minecraft.

The “Minecraft Extravaganza” was designed to provide a fun and family-friendly environment for the kids to play the popular world-building video game.

“This is a safe environment for the kids to come in and play,” branch manager Al List said.

“It’s not online so they don’t have to deal with some of the unsavory people. It’s just a good safe environment.”

The game consists of textured cubes the player can destroy or place to build structures. Each cube represents a material, like dirt or trees, and the worlds are randomly generated. Much of the game revolves around collaborative building projects and other creative pursuits.

“I really like it,” said Brittany Dyer, a 13-year-old participant. “I’m not very good, but it’s pretty cool.”

The tech center’s version of Minecraft contains several educational modules, though the recreational version is available, too.

The module “Mathlandia” requires students to work together to solve mathematics-based missions and “Geography Worlds” features replicas of geographical features. List said he hopes that local teachers will take advantage of this resource by having field trips to the center.

“The principal and teachers from North Hall Middle already came here to see what we have,” he said.

“They were very excited about what we have to offer here, and we definitely want to work in conjunction with the school system.”

Minecraft was developed by a small independent team in Sweden. It was released in 2011 and was a breakout success with more than 11 million copies sold to date. Minecraft players have used the game to create replicas of the Taj Mahal, the Starship Enterprise from Star Trek, the Titanic and even entire cities.

List said he is planning to make the extravaganza a regular monthly event and hopes that in the future it will be a weekly event with different weeks for different age groups, including a night for adults.

“We hope this event will continue to bring new people here to experience what we have as far as our technology,” he said. “We’re all about bringing technology to youth and people of all ages.

“Everybody needs to be looking to the future, and technology is always going to be the future.”

Currently, anyone who is interested in Minecraft can play it for up to 100 minutes on any of the center’s computers during regular business hours. Staff members are available to assist newcomers with starting the game.