Thursday, 23 August 2018

Book review - Minecraft STEM Challenge books

My children are massive fans of Minecraft - I think that they'd play it all day if they could! Personally I'd much rather they chose to play Minecraft than some of the other games that are out there - they play beautifully together as well as following their own projects, and they have both created some really amazing structures. So I knew that they would love these two new Minecraft STEM Challenge books from Carlton - Build a Theme Park and Build a City.

Minecraft STEM Challenge books review

These books claim to be a first-of-a-kind addition to the Minecraft market, and they are certainly very different to the other Minecraft books that they own. They are large format, packed with colourful pictures and texts, and easy to dip in and out of.

Kids reading Minecraft books

Each book takes you through the step-by-step construction of a Minecraft City or Theme Park. You can follow the instructions to create an exact copy, with directions given for overall layout and how to make each building. Or if you prefer you can copy the individual buildings, or just take inspiration from the creations and come up with your own designs. Alongside the instructions you can read about STEM (Science, Technology, Engineering and Mathematics) topics in the real world, then put this learning to use in the game. For example calculating the total area needed to house a theme park ride, or learning how gravity and friction will affect the speed of a roller coaster.

Minecraft STEM Challenge - build a city

Mia chose to work with the Build a City book, and decided to start by building a tower block. She wanted to come up with her own design for the city as a whole, but chose to copy the instructions for the tower block from the book. I sat down with her and helped her to work through them step-by-step. The book explained why we needed to use particular materials, and there was lots of maths involved in calculating where to place the blocks to form the sides to make sure that everything lined up. There's also a calculation to work out how many families you can house in the tower block based on the number of floors that you build. It was a lot of fun!

Minecraft built shop

I left her to it and came back to find that she'd gone on to build her own versions of other structures from the book - this time taking inspiration from the book but using her own designs. She had chosen to use different materials and I was really impressed to hear her telling me about why she'd chosen particular materials. She built a park with different rides in it and some shops.

Harry pounced on the Theme Park book and quickly set to making his own park. He's built roller coasters in Minecraft before, and was eager to first come up with his own projects rather than follow the ones in the book. He designed his own bumper car ride after seeing a similar ride in the book that talked about using ice to make it slippery and I was really impressed with how well he'd designed it.

Minecraft STEM Challenge - building a theme park

He copied his design for the Ferris Wheel from the book as he found it helpful to have something to copy - he says he can't make circles in Minecraft very well! He was very proud of it and I love the detail, it's definitely something that he would have struggled to make alone, but I wouldn't be surprised if it inspires him to make lots of similar designs using it as a jumping off point.

Minecraft build ferris wheel

I was really impressed with both of these books, and I can see that my children are going to be referring to them and being inspired by them for a long time to come. There are several other books available in the series and I'm definitely going to be putting them on the Christmas list!

We received copies of these books to review. These books will be published on 6th September 2018.

1 comment:

  1. I think these will be going on the Christmas list for my girls. They are big fans of Minecraft and are always on the look out for new books to inspire them x

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