STEM Education

Minecraft Education Adds Virtual NASA Artemis Mission Worlds to STEM

Created in partnership with NASA, Microsoft’s Minecraft Education has added virtual Artemis Mission Worlds, which will give STEM students a chance to use coding to design a rocket, navigate it to the Moon, and eventually, learn how to keep a Moon base habitat safe. All of this is designed to inspire the next generation of computer and space scientists. NASA’s future goal is to go to Mars. 

Microsoft Minecraft Education has added these modules to its education library in 29 languages. The lessons incorporate Next Generation Science Standards (NGSS) Science and Engineering Practices, and are aligned with the National Science Teaching Association (NSTA) and Computer Science Teachers Association (CSTA) standards, Microsoft said. 

Two of the three lessons are available now, and the third is coming soon: 

  1. Artemis World I: Rocket Build — Students will learn about what goes into rocket design, propulsion, and space flight, and build and launch their own virtual rocket; 

  2. Artemis World II: Return to the Moon — Students will embark on a simulated flight on the Orion spacecraft to the Moon using computer science and coding in either Python or MakeCode; 

  3. Artemis World III: Moon Base — How a Moon base is built, operated, and kept safe for human habitation. 

Educators who aren’t familiar with Minecraft can check it out on a free trial basis with an Office 365 or a Microsoft 365 account, but should check with their schools to see if there is a school account free to teachers. Otherwise, teacher licenses are $5 per year. Visit the Minecraft Teacher Academy page to learn more. Bedrock players can download Artemis: Rocket Build for free in the Marketplace. Minecraft works on Windows, Mac, Chromebook or Android, and iPhone/iPad. 

In addition, extension lessons have also been developed by the Challenger Center for Space Science Education, started by families of the crew lost in the Challenger accident, to keep the dream of space exploration alive. The lessons will help students develop skills such as problem solving, critical thinking, communication and teamwork. 

About the Author

Kate Lucariello is a former newspaper editor, EAST Lab high school teacher and college English teacher.