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Thank you to everyone who has applied to our 2016 Minecraft Scholarship Contest. In only 4 months we had an impressive 2,200 different Essay submissions from all over the world. GPA’s varied from straight A’s in honors to 2.0’s with strong creative and social sides. While each essay was encouraging and many were outstanding, one essay stood out from all of the others.
The contest winner, a now Freshman in College, is a long time advocate for Minecraft education specifically. He has in his own way embodied the spirit in our competition personally and socially. His longer term efforts to educate himself and those around him in Minecraft make his application truly exceptional. While there were many amazing essays and submissions that had higher GPA’s, our winner is the purest embodiment of the Goal of this contest. He has graciously allowed us to show you his full unedited submission in this post and we would like to share that with you so that you too can see what the best of us is meant to look like. So without further delay. We give you the 2016 Winning Essay submission.
Five years ago, at age 13, I built an entire computer from scratch. Assembled from basic components: wires, torches, repeaters, pistons, and blocks, it was capable of rendering images to a display, multiplying and dividing numbers, and even calculating square roots. To say Minecraft inspired my career path of becoming a computer engineer would be an understatement. For me, Minecraft was a powerful tool that introduced me to the field by gifting direct experience at a young age. Beginning with basic logic gates composed of Redstone dust and torches, I learned the fundamental components computers use to operate, such as adders, memory, multiplexers, and counters, in order to construct a fully working microprocessor within Minecraft.
I owe this achievement to the unique learning atmosphere surrounding Minecraft and its community. With no shortage of Youtube tutorials and online communities to learn from, I never had trouble finding help when I needed it. One group in particular, the “Open Redstone Engineers” (ORE), an organization I helped administrate for several years, deserves special mention. ORE is a community dedicated to teaching fundamental computer engineering using Redstone and applying that knowledge towards developing incredible Redstone creations. In a manner of friendly competition, the hundreds of ORE members and I competed to build the most interesting Redstone devices, all the while learning computer engineering. These creations ranged from a miniature internet to implementations of the game Tetris.
As an admin on ORE, I developed firsthand experience teaching my computer engineering knowledge to younger players. We had a “school” Minecraft server for this very purpose. Developing instructional flowcharts and diagrams felt intuitive using Minecraft’s blocky terrain, and I grew mastery in demonstrating complicated topics, such as the binary multiplier, in simple lessons. I must have given several hundred of such lessons, all to very young students beginning without even a shred of prior computer engineering knowledge. Additionally, I posted showcase videos and tutorials on a Youtube channel to help thousands more people across the web learn as well (search “Newomaster” on Youtube).
I believe Minecraft’s educational prowess lies in its ability to mask difficult learning in a layer of motivating creative fun. For example, if a Minecraft player is researching how to build circular structures with square blocks, he/she is actually learning how computers render circles with square pixels. Similarly, if a player is learning how to construct a Redstone combination lock for their house, he/she is actually learning how computers decode binary numbers. Minecraft’s infinite supply of building materials lowers the barrier of entry for learning, eliminating the need for expensive equipment. Coupling these two factors with Minecraft’s stellar community and interactivity, it’s clear why Minecraft is such an excellent learning tool. In fact, computer engineering isn’t the only advanced topic that could be taught using Minecraft. Civil engineering, mathematics, architecture, and even environmental science, just to name a few, could be taught within Minecraft, bringing future careers to thousands as it has brought me to computer engineering.
While there could be only 1 winner there were literally hundreds of outstanding entries and quotes we would still like to share with you. Below are some of our favorites.
Minecraft goes beyond teaching to how to reframe a problem to innovate. – Madsrant
Many girls still grow up under the unspoken assumption that they are not well-suited for the physical labor of construction. Minecraft allows girls to see outside of that tunnel when considering a career, that they too are capable of building and envisioning our world. – M.Harkins
Minecraft can be an effective tool in reaching this generation of students – Nesdood007
Playing Minecraft can benefit a wide range of career areas. For architecture, one can go through the different materials available in the world and choose the ones that fit a certain theme or color scheme. For electricians or robot technicians, redstone offers a straightforward yet complex system of wiring that allows the creator to invent simple sliding door systems or complicated machines that serve as calculators or some that play music, or even some that can simulate minecraft inside Minecraft to the point where even the most hardcore of Minecraft players are astonished. For coders and Game Developers, the use of Command Blocks to make adventure maps offer great technical practice that will be useful further in the field. Even growing crops and raising livestock can be learned through Minecraft. – lunaluna372
I play on my school’s Varsity Lacrosse and Hockey teams. I am a captain for my schools Academic Competition team, the Vice-President of the Psychology club, and have a wide circle of supportive friends. These are things I would not have been able to achieve were it not for the necessary social and teamwork skills I learned through Minecraft. – laxmanstorm
Minecraft should not be dismissed as “just a video game”, instead parents and educators should encourage children to play so they can develop the skills necessary to being a successful designer, teammate, or engineer. – asomesparta
Minecraft, and other open world games, allow for a unlimited creativity and opportunities for learning – asomesparta
This game allows people to bounce ideas of one another and push each other to create greatness. – XxOutlaw28xX
Apply here for our 2017 Minecraft Scholarship Competition.