Monarto Safari Park

Zoos launch Eco Detectives in Minecraft Education

An innovative collaboration between zoos across Australia and New Zealand, Microsoft AUS/NZ, and expert game developers Team Workbench in Amsterdam has resulted in Eco Detectives, a Minecraft computer game. This game empowers students to act as conservationists in their local ecosystems using a series of interactive maps to raise awareness of the plight of species and wild habitats to a new gamer generation.

The launch of Eco Detectives brings conservation straight into the hands, devices and keyboards of millions of Minecraft Education educators and students in 115 countries with a focus on in-class learning through gamification.

By playing Minecraft Education Eco Detectives, students discover why their virtual ecosystems are out of balance and then take action to restore biodiversity. Zoo Education Officers have employed Sustainable Development Goal G 15: ‘Life on Land,’ which seeks to protect, restore, and promote the conservation and sustainable use of terrestrial ecosystems, as the guiding principle when designing the game.

Quests within each of the Drylands, Woodlands, Wetlands and Urban biomes turn the player into an environmental change agent, aiming to complete tasks in each unique ecosystem by implementing small changes that have a big and positive impact on wildlife local to that area.

Taronga Conservation Society Australia, Zoos South Australia, Zoos Victoria, Perth Zoo, and Auckland Zoo have worked together on the project that aims to bring positive behaviour change from the gaming world into the real world.

Funding for the Eco Detectives project has been matched by Microsoft in support of the local and global conservation efforts of the collective who care for a range of endangered and critically endangered wildlife species. The Eco Detectives online game is complimented by educational resources created by UNICEF Australia and is designed to support teachers in embedding skills and knowledge from the game into their local curriculum.

The International Union for Conservation of Nature (IUCN) Red List reports that more than 44,000 species worldwide are threatened with extinction, with Australasia’s unique species especially threatened due to climate change and invasive species.

Zoos and aquariums embrace innovation when it comes to saving species and this game is the perfect example of innovation and conservation working together.

“Eco-Detectives is a great example of the collaborative nature of zoos working together for the greater good. It’s an exciting day and I can’t wait to join the Eco-Detective Minecraft community!” said Elaine Bensted, President, Zoo and Aquarium Association Australasia.

“At Minecraft Education, we recognise the power of game-based learning for engaging students in meaningful problem-solving. The new Eco Detectives world is a prime example of how we can leverage this power to inspire the next generation of conservationists. By immersing students in virtual ecosystems, we empower them to explore, analyse, and take action to restore biodiversity. Through quests and challenges, they become environmental activists, making small but impactful changes that resonate in the real world.” Allison Matthews, Head of Minecraft Education.

“The climate crisis is creating more frequent and intense climate hazards everywhere. Young people have been telling us that they want more creative and inspiring ways to learn about our ever-changing climate and Eco Detectives will help achieve this,” said Nishahd Rego, UNICEF Australia’s Climate Lead.

“We, as humans, are all about solving problems, and with educational games, we aim to show players how their choices really matter,” said Team Workbench.

Minecraft Education Live Lessons on Eco Detectives will be held for primary students and teachers in July, August, and September. Sign-up is here:  https://aka.ms/EcoDetectiveWorkshop

 

About Zoos SA

Zoos SA is a not-for-profit conservation charity that exists to connect people with nature and save species from extinction.

Zoos SA acknowledges the Country on which we stand always was, and always will be, Aboriginal land and we pay our deepest respect and gratitude to Kaurna (Adelaide Zoo) and Ngarrindjeri (Monarto Safari Park) Elders, past, present and emerging.

We undertake critical conservation work throughout Australia and acknowledge the traditional custodians of these lands.

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