Skip to main content

Manitoba students to solve downtown problems with Minecraft

Students at schools across the province are going to get a chance to tackle the problems facing Winnipeg's downtown through an educational version of the popular video game Minecraft.

Level Up: Winnipeg is a collaborative project between Microsoft, the City of Winnipeg, and school divisions across Manitoba. Students will be able to explore a digitized version of Winnipeg's downtown and be challenged to solve the problems facing the troubled area using Minecraft: Education Edition.

Teacher Chris Heidebrecht said the game has become an invaluable learning tool.

"Not only do you have the ability to go into an endless creative world, there's also the ability now to structure lessons around specific learning goals, and to have kids participating in an engaging and collaborative way around things that connect to the curriculum," he said.

It's not the first time the Louis Riel School Division (LRSD) has used Minecraft in this way. Communications manager Taylor Fenn said a team from the Louis Riel School Division used the game to re-create an Anishinaabe community from pre-colonial times.

"So, when (Microsoft) approached us for Level Up: Winnipeg, our superintendent was really interested in getting other school divisions and other independent schools on board," said Fenn.

Heidebrecht thinks the kids are going to love it, "What's fantastic about having a collaboration with Microsoft is that they have developers who are going to be able to re-create areas and sections of the city. So when students play the game, they're going to actually see the things that they see in real life," he said.

Students will be able to explore downtown Winnipeg through Minecraft, and will also encounter NPCs (non-playable characters) of notable Winnipeggers and community members who will teach them about the city.

When the project begins in spring 2023, students will be given a prompt related to reimagining downtown and sustainability. Heidebrecht said they will then have to build a solution to that prompt.

"There's so many things that the creative minds of kids can really participate in, so we're thinking about ideas around transportation, we're thinking about ideas around spaces, we're thinking about ideas that support kids, there's many different directions we could go with this project," he said.

After completing the project, students will pitch their ideas to a panel of experts, who will then take the best ones forward to the city.

"It's imagining a city that is healthy and strong, and really incorporating voices from everybody that we possibly can," said Heidebrecht.

"It's not just about the build, it's about the research and the learning and the innovation that students can provide." Top Stories


WATCH LIVE NDP agriculture critic says he's not impressed by grocers' plans to stabilize prices

New Democrat MP Alistair MacGregor says he has reviewed the major grocers' plans to stabilize prices, and he's unimpressed by what is in them. MacGregor spoke to reporters Monday afternoon ahead of a committee appearance by Michael Medline, the president and CEO of Empire Company Ltd., which owns Sobeys and other grocery store chains.

Stay Connected