Students shine as they meld Indigenous knowledge and digital skills to Heal Country in 2021 Indigital Minecraft Education Challenge

More than 6,500 students from 160 different schools around Australia registered for the 2021 Indigital Minecraft Education Challenge – and we are now delighted to announce the winners and runners-up.

Anchored in this year’s NAIDOC theme – Heal Country – this year’s Challenge, resonated strongly and prompted the record registration – more than six times the number of students that registered last year.

The 2021 Challenge entries saw Indigenous and non-Indigenous students from Foundation to Year 10 discover and explore their local Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander cultural knowledge, histories and languages and build their understanding of Country in Minecraft Education.

Answering the question: “How can we ‘Heal Country: Side by Side,’ and build more sustainable communities by embracing First Nations’ cultural knowledge and understanding of Country?” The students worked together to ‘Heal Country: Side by Side’ by building a present-day representation of local Country, alongside another alongside another representation of the same area sometime in the future, sharing their ideas in their Minecraft worlds, developing important digital skills through the experience.

The three schools which won this year’s Challenge are;

  • Winner: Bribie Island State School, QLD – Best Minecraft World (Foundation to Year 6)
  • Winner: Salisbury North Primary School – Best Minecraft World (Year 7 to Year 10)
  • Winner: Clyde Fenton Primary School, NT – Best Narrative (Year 7 to Year 10)

The Indigital Minecraft Education Challenge is supported by Microsoft Australia and New Zealand, Xbox, Telstra Foundation, the National Library of Australia and endorsed by the National NAIDOC Committee.

Indigital is Australia’s first Indigenous edutech company leveraging digital technology to accelerate learning, promote understanding and build skills that create a pathway for Indigenous people into the digital economy. Mikaela Jade, Cabrogal woman, founder of Indigital, and creator of the Challenge was delighted by the thoughtful responses from students, their passion for learning, and their enthusiasm to Heal Country through reimagined Minecraft worlds.

“There’s no doubt this year has been challenging for many students, teachers and parents so seeing how our future generations embraced the theme and knowing that this experience helped them through a trying time – even if just a little bit – is all we could ask for,” said Jade.

“It was wonderful to see submissions coming in from schools right across Australia, from Katherine in the Northern Territory to Bruny Island in Tasmania. We know many students had to shift to collaborating on entries while learning from home and that’s a remarkable level of dedication.”

The calibre of entries meant we didn’t have an easy time deciding who to award the prizes to – but that’s a good problem to have!

Many of the schools which participated in the first challenge, held in 2020, signed up again this year, recognising the program’s value for students of all ages, and seizing the opportunity to continue an important educational journey that melds Indigenous knowledge and modern digital technology.

Kalkie State School located on Taribelang Country in Bundaberg, Queensland, won the 2020 Challenge and this year worked on developing a First Nations seasonal weather calendar. The school sees this as an ongoing opportunity, melding Indigenous knowledge with science checked off by the CSIRO, so that it can eventually present its weather map to the Bureau of Meteorology, extending its understanding of Country.

Tiffany Wright, Education Director for Australia and New Zealand at Microsoft, added; “We are absolutely delighted to support the Challenge and to encourage students to learn more about their local Indigenous culture and to explore how to preserve and heal Country. This year we have all had to learn new ways of doing things, new ways of thinking about things, and the digital skills and collaborative efforts that are reflected in this year’s winning entries are absolutely inspiring.

I would like to thank all the students, teachers and the broader community for participating in the Challenge and adding to our collective understanding of how we can work together to build a better world.

For the three schools named winners of this year’s Challenge, the opportunity for students to extend their understanding and exercise their creativity has been immensely rewarding.

Lisa Anici, teacher from Bribie Island State School, QLD, Gubbi Gubbi Country said, “What our students enjoyed the most about this experience was making new friends by working together to problem solve; teaching each other new skills, such as design and coding; and all while learning about places of Indigenous cultural significance in our local area.”

Yasmin Brand, teacher from Clyde Fenton Primary School, NT, Jawoyn Country, said;

Learning how to integrate local Aboriginal values across a range of subject areas – including literacy, digital technology, history and geography – through the Indigital Minecraft Challenge, was invaluable and the kids had a blast!

The 2021 Indigital Minecraft Education Challenge award ceremony was a virtual event celebrating the success of the Challenge winners and runners up.

Best Minecraft World (Foundation to Year 6) – Prize: Limited edition custom Xbox Series X console + four controllers

  1. Winner: Bribie Island State School, QLD
  2. Finalist: Clyde Fenton Primary School, NT
  3. Finalist: Bruny Island District School, TAS
  4. Finalist: Lindisfarne North Primary School, TAS

Best Minecraft World (Year 7 to Year 10) – Prize: Limited edition custom Xbox Series X console + four controllers

  1. Winner: Salisbury North Primary School (Year 7), SA
  2. Finalist: Coreen School, NSW
  3. Finalist: Yirrkala School, NT
  4. Finalist: Tasmanian eSchool, TAS

Best Narrative (Foundation to Year 10) – Prize: Indigital Schools Program valued at $20,000 delivered in person

  1. Winner: Clyde Fenton Primary School, NT
  2. Finalist: St James Catholic College, TAS
  3. Finalist: St Brendan’s Catholic Primary School, QLD
  4. Finalist: Bruny Island District School, TAS
Limited edition custom Xbox Series X console & controller

The winning entries can be viewed here.

There’s more information about this year’s event here. Registrations for the 2022 Indigital Minecraft Education Challenge will open later this year. Keep an eye on our blog for more details.