Skeleton horses and killer bunnies may not be traditional learning tools, but a new mod for the computer game Minecraft is using them to teach important lessons about earthquake safety.
The new Minecraft mod called “ShakerMod” was developed by Te Papa and the Earthquake Commission to help kids learn to “Fix, Fasten and Don’t Forget.”
Minecraft, where players build imaginary worlds with blocks, is one of the world’s most popular computer games.
In ShakerMod, kids fix and fasten objects, then simulate earthquakes at different magnitudes. When the quakes are triggered, players see and hear the shaking, and watch as objects smash or survive depending on their earthquake-proofing skills. Players can also see how different Minecraft creatures fare in their quake.
The game can be played at Te Papa as part of its earthquake education programme, Earthquake Encounters, or downloaded to play at home or at school.
Te Papa’s Head of Learning Innovation, Miri Young, says ShakerMod has been tested with around 100 school children and their teachers throughout its development and their feedback has been instrumental in improvements to the mod.
ShakerMod has been created by internationally renowned game developers, earthquake experts and educators and is the culmination of months of development work.
The full Earthquake Encounters learning programme for primary school students (years 3-8), is a two-hour educator-led session in and around Te Papa.
Students will visit exhibitions and outdoor areas at Te Papa to understand how plate tectonics have shaped Aotearoa New Zealand; go down to Te Papa’s base isolators to see how they protect the nation’s treasures; and go into Te Papa’s Hīnātore Learning Lab to use ShakerMod to learn to keep taonga, such as the colossal squid and pygmy blue whale skeleton, safe within the earthquake simulation.
EQC is a founding partner of Te Papa, with 2018 marking the 21st year of the relationship.
For the past 12 years, EQC and Te Papa have worked together to educate students and teachers about earthquakes and what can be done to prevent and mitigate the damage caused by natural disasters.
The next step in the ongoing Te Papa / EQC partnership is the redevelopment of the Awesome Forces natural history space as part of Te Papa’s renewal of its permanent exhibitions.
The new nature zone will feature the return of the revamped earthquake house with a new interactive story about recent seismic shifts in Aotearoa.