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Open Access Using Minecraft to engage children with science at public events

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Engagement with science and scientific skills is an important aspect of children's ability to navigate the world around them, but engagement with science is low in comparison with other subjects. The Lancaster University outreach project Science Hunters takes a novel approach to engaging children with environmental science research through a constructivist pedagogical approach using the popular computer game Minecraft. While Minecraft is extensively used in formal education settings, few data are available on its use in public engagement with scientific research, and the relationship between children's and adults' attitudes to science and computer games are complex. Through motivational surveys conducted as part of the project evaluation, we analysed feedback from participants who attended sessions as part of a programme at public events, to explore the basic demographics of children attending our events, and whether it is the prospect of learning about science, or the opportunity to play Minecraft that leads them to choose our activity. We also present evaluation of general feedback from participants at public events over four years to give a broader view of participants' response to the activities.

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Keywords: ENVIRONMENTAL SCIENCE; INFORMAL LEARNING; MINECRAFT; SCIENCE COMMUNICATION

Document Type: Research Article

Publication date: September 1, 2019

More about this publication?
  • Engagement with research goes further than participation in it. Engaged individuals and communities initiate research, advise, challenge or collaborate with researchers. Their involvement is always active and they have a crucial influence on the conduct of the research.

    Research for All is a peer-reviewed journal focusing on research that involves universities and communities, services or industries working together. Contributors and readers are from both inside and outside of higher education. They include researchers, policymakers, managers, practitioners, community-based organizations, schools, businesses and the intermediaries who bring these people together. The journal highlights the potential in active public engagement for robust academic study, for the development of involved communities, and for the impact of research. It explores engagement with different groups and their cultures, and features theoretical and empirical analysis alongside authoritative commentary to explore a range of themes that are key to engaged research including the development of reciprocal relationships, sector-specific communication and participatory action research. The journal is co-sponsored by the UCL Institute of Education and the National Co-ordinating Centre for Public Engagement.

    The journal welcomes relevant articles. See the publication homepage for details, or contact [email protected]

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