Thunder Bay

A perfect school, block by block: Students design ideal learning spaces in Minecraft

Lakehead Public Schools turned to a technology giant this week to make sure their students have a say in how, and where, they learn.

Some ideas could find their way into Thunder Bay's new Ecole Elsie MacGill Public School, set to open next yea

Grade 6, 7, and 8 students from Agnew H. Johnston and Edgewater Park public schools spent Thursday designing their ideal learning spaces in Minecraft. (Lakehead Public Schools/Provided)

Lakehead Public Schools turned to a technology giant this week to make sure their students have a say in how, and where, they learn.

More than 200 Grade 6, 7, and 8 students from Agnew H. Johnston and Edgewater Park public schools spent Thursday working alongside modern classroom experience experts from Microsoft, building their idea learning spaces in Minecraft.

Many of the participating students will be transitioning to the new Ecole Elsie MacGill Public School when it opens in 2020. And Elsie MacGill principal Heather Harris said it's possible some of the students' ideas could become a reality there.

"The school is all designed as far as the layout, but we have a large library or learning commons on the second floor that right now is wide open," Harris said. "That's one of the spaces that the students looked at."

"Things like furniture ... are still to be determined," she said. "We'll definitely be working with staff and student ideas, and hopefully able to get it right."

Thursday's event actually took place at Westgate high school's cafetorium, where each student was provided with a laptop and copy of Minecraft.

"A lot of the students worked on outdoor spaces, so gardens," Harris said. "Lots of big windows, lots of natural light, and they talked a lot about different kinds of seating."

"So, having different spaces where you could work in a group, having places where you could work alone, but just giving kids options where they feel comfortable, and where they can do their best learning."

Harris said the Microsoft experts will be presenting the students' ideas to teachers on Friday.

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