Calgary students were asked to reimagine the city’s downtown using the popular video game Minecraft, and the city announced its contest winners Thursday. 

More than 12,000 Calgary Board of Education (CBE) students ranging from kindergarten to Grade 12, were asked to create what they wanted to see in the city’s downtown in the pixelated world of Minecraft, a game where players can gather or mine building materials to create a new world.

The city, the public school board and the video game makers partnered together on this project to invite ideas from kids. 

The CBE narrowed the selection list down to 12 finalists across four divisions Thursday. 

One of the winners in the Grade 7 category, Areeb Khan, and his co-teammates at Dr. Gordon Higgins School worked through lunch hours and after school on their build. 

The team created Great Heights Recreation Centre, a place where people play their favourite sports, read books, connect with nature and enjoy multicultural food trucks. 

“Our idea was to incorporate naturalization in a fun and exciting way for the modern use of Calgary,” Areeb told the Calgary Eyeopener.

“Our idea was to create less of a building and more of nature.”

A group of Grade 7 students from Dr. Gordon Higgins School won in their category. Part of their Minecraft design includes multicultural food trucks and a place to read books. (Supplied by the City of Calgary)

Teacher Sarah Mackinnon, who was approached by Areeb for the project, said it wasn’t hard to convince her students to play Minecraft at school. 

“I think historically, adults tend to kind of turn their nose at things like video games and stuff like that,” she said. 

“But utilizing something like Minecraft in education, not only is it actually a valuable tool, where kids can practice their spatial awareness and different creative endeavors, but it also is engaging kids. It’s an easy sell.”

Calgary Mayor Jyoti Gondek was also impressed with the Minecraft designs. 

“Our downtown belongs to all Calgarians and it’s amazing to see the Minecraft creations that over 12,000 of Calgary’s students put together as they imagined the future of the heart of our city,” said Gondek. 
 

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