Students at Maraekakaho School have been using two popular children’s pastimes to help their community become more prepared for an emergency.

The students have been using online video game Minecraft and Lego building blocks to map their community; locating its hazards, vulnerabilities and resources that could be useful in an emergency.

This is part of a research project to trial the use of these two popular pastimes for disaster risk reduction and explore if these are effective tools for children to use.

Researchers from the University of Auckland, Auckland University of Technology (AUT) and East Coast LAB (Life at the Boundary) developed a series of lessons and activities for the students to learn more about natural hazards, vulnerabilities and resources.

Year 6 student Raiha said they had started off in the classroom “mapping our hazards and resources on really big maps using lots of stickers, pins, and string”.

The students were then divided into groups to build their maps using Minecraft and more than 10,000 Lego blocks.

“I really enjoyed playing on Minecraft to build the map of our school and learning about the hazards that have affected us in the past,” Year 5 student Jodi said.

A group of 12 students have been documenting the process on video. It will be released online once the project has been completed.

Researchers are also working with other members of the community to help develop a Community Resilience Plan with the Hawke’s Bay Civil Defence emergency management group.

This is part of a two-year research project funded by the Resilience to Nature’s Challenge strand of the National Science Challenge.

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Minecraft and Lego help students prepare for emergencies