28 November 2022

New Minecraft game teaches kids to defend castles, protect chickens and develop cybersecurity skills

| Evelyn Karatzas
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kids at cyber castle launch at Questacon

Lyneham Primary School kids playing the Cyber Castle Challenge game at Questacon. Photo: Evelyn Karatzas.

Questacon has launched a new resource for teachers to educate their students on cybersecurity.

Developed in the popular children’s PC program and education platform, Minecraft, the game, Cyber Castle Challenge, allows children aged eight to 13 to complete challenges, solve problems and use critical thinking, while teaching them how to protect themselves from cyber threats.

It has already been used by more than 200 teachers across the nation as an educational resource to teach kids about the cyber world, as well as providing them with knowledge to pursue careers in STEM.

Questacon education programs senior manager Broderick Matthews said the Cyber Castle Challenge was about helping build up much-needed skills for future cyber professionals.

“Cybersecurity is such an important thing and so this game is designed to engage primary school students in cybersecurity through different quests on Cyber Castle Challenge,” he said.

“In the game, there’s a range of chickens within the castle that you need to protect and defend from the rogue foxes on the outside, which has huge parallels to the cybersecurity world to educate them in a fun way.

“I wondered if young people would actually be able to pick up the analogies between the game and the cyber world, but they were able to make those connections and the feedback we’ve received has been amazing … it also makes the kids question the cybersecurity of their own systems at home too.”

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Mr Matthews said the game had been downloaded by more than 200 teachers across the country.

“This game is a great resource for teachers that ties into the digital curriculum so that they can download it and use it in their classrooms,” he said.

“They [the kids] need to be creative, critical thinkers, and collaborative, as well working as a team to solve the problems and that’s what they’re doing.

“We know the young people here from Lyneham Primary School are in grades three and four, so they’re 10 to 15 years away from thinking about their big career, and the cyber world is going to be completely different by that point. What we hope to achieve from this game is that students build up the skills needed to tackle any challenge, no matter where it might occur in the future.”

“We want to provide inspiration for young people to see the potential of a future cyber career,” Mr Matthews said.

“The focus of our cyber program is not only building the future skills that are needed like creativity, collaboration, and critical thinking, but inspiring these students to follow those career pathways.

“That’s why the game is linked with cyber professionals as well, as we can share their career paths and their stories so students can potentially follow them.”

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Questacon cyber stem leader coordinator Jin Kato said he began working on the game about 18 months ago.

“We started off by thinking of a way that we could get students designing and creating in this kind of cybersecurity context,” Mr Kato said.

“Then this thought came up with my colleague about ‘Why don’t we get them to build a castle in Minecraft?’ So that was the initial seed of the idea.

“From there, we worked with professionals to talk about how can we represent cybersecurity in the correct way through this game, how do we engage young people, and what’s the best way that we can help them learn and scaffold information to teach them the complex side of websites.”

Mr Kato said long-term, he hopes the game is delivered by more teachers in classrooms.

“The Cyber Castle Challenge is all about building a workforce of the future to really upskill the students in digital technologies and digital electricity and build up that future workforce within cybersecurity,” he said.

“It’s really great to hear all the feedback we’ve been getting by the teachers and the students too, we can already see it’s made an impact.”

Download Cyber Castle Challenge here.

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