The Future of Education

Edition 14

Accepted Abstracts

Teaching about Raw Materials and Geology at school: the BetterGeo Mod and the engagement of youngsters as Young RM Ambassadors

Luca Giorgio Bellucci, ISMAR-CNR (Italy)

Silvia Giuliani, Institute of Marine Sciences - National Research Council of Italy (Italy)

Renata Lapinska-Viola, National researh council-cnr-Institute of organic synthesis and photoreactivity (Italy)

Alberto Zanelli, Consiblio Nazionale delle Ricerche (Cnr) Istiuto per la Sintesi Organica e la Fotoreattività (ISOF) (Italy)

Armida Torreggiani, National research council of italy - cnr (Italy)


With an increasing population requiring new technologies demanding larger quantities of a wider array of minerals, our society is increasingly reliant on minerals and metals [1]. To help raise awareness about these issues and Geology, the use of games as learning tools can be a valuable way to help pupils learn while having fun [2]. BetterGeoEdu, an European project funded by EIT RawMaterials, was designed to support formal and informal educators in teaching and learning about mining issues by using Minecraft, one of the most popular video games in the world where the player has to survive in an open 3D world by collecting raw materials to create tools and buildings, and by mining for metals and minerals to advance in technologies. By altering Minecraft's base functions with realistic Geology, the BetterGeo modification (mod) adds multiple new rock types, including corresponding ores along with realistic locations for them in the virtual world. What was called “stone” in the original version is now gabbros, limestones, banded iron formations, shales, gneiss, etc. In addition, educational materials (exercises and relative instructions) targeted to children from 8 to 12 years old, were developed by using the mod and were proposed to teachers, museums, geoparks, and activity centers thanks to train-the-trainer programs as well as freely available exercises and instructions on the website [3]. In order to involve teenagers in this dissemination action, high school students from 15 to 18 years old were asked to act as “ambassadors” of raw materials (Young RM Ambassadors) and, in collaboration with the European Project RM@Schools [4], were involved in activities at primary and middle schools, by tutoring younger students during the game phases and the execution of the exercises in class. The combination of skills by young tutors, their ways to communicate, and the experience of teachers and researchers helped to bridge the generation gap that often separates adults (including teachers) from the world of gaming, which instead attracts and fascinates children and teenagers. This contribution describes the experience attained during the school year 2021-22 in the framework of mandatory work-related learning activities for secondary school students in Italy.

Keywords Gaming, raw materials, Minecraft, circular economy, Young RM Ambassadors.

[1] Communication from the Commission to the European Parliament, the Council, the European Economic and Social Committee and the Committee of the Regions “Critical Raw Materials Resilience: Charting a Path towards greater Security and Sustainability” (COM(2020)474.
[2] Westrin P. et al. (2020). Can we teach children geology using one of the world’s most popular video games? European geologist, 50 November, 83-86.


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