Here's a neat use of video games for educational purposes. Understanding that kids love Minecraft more than their families, the Victorian Government has re-created the city centre, including the Metro Tunnel, in Minecraft as a teaching tool.
Cheekily called Mini Melbourne, the Minecraft creation recreates 600,000m2 of Melbourne's city centre for users to wander and explore. There's also a separate exercise for students (through Minecraft: Education Edition) where they can relive the digging required to build the Metro Tunnel, discovering colonial era artefacts along the way.
"The activity also reinforces teamwork, record keeping and problem-solving skills as students try to uncover as many artefacts as possible and come up with their interpretation of the previous usage of their site," the Metro Tunnel site says.
It's a neat way to introduce archaeology to kids. (Update: It's a first for an Australian city, but not a world-first, with Gothenburg building a virtual copy of itself in Minecraft a few years ago. Thanks, Angorafish!) "Innovations such as this engage young people in problem solving and STEM subjects, inspiring them to work on city-shaping projects," Victorian Education minister James Merlino said.
Archaeology Adventure and the necessary downloads and guides for teachers can be found on the official Victorian Education FUSE website.
As for Mini Melbourne, it's free for use with all versions of Minecraft. There's some recommended activities and scavenger hunts for kids, like getting them to repaint Hosier Lane, looking for cultural or historical buildings around the city, making a sketch map, rebuilding the city's iconic arcades and laneways, and using the redstone and noteblocks in Minecraft to make their own song within Forum Melbourne.
If you'd like to muck around with Mini Melbourne, you can download that that here.