Daniel Turinsky with the eco home he built in Minecraft. Photo: Sara Hollyman

Real win for Daniel’s virtual eco home

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At just 10-years-old, Nelson Central School pupil Daniel Turinsky has built his first eco home and received national accolades for doing so. But he has done it on Minecraft – a game that allows people to build virtual worlds.

Daniel is the national winner of this year’s primary section of the School-gen Minecraft ‘Eco-house’ competition.

The competition, run by Interface, tasked students with building an energy-efficient home which had minimal impact on the environment.

Daniel’s parents are currently building a new home, so he says he pulled a lot of the thought process behind design features from that into his virtual home.

“It took me ages to find the right site. I wanted somewhere on a bit of a hill, but still flat, and there had to be a river next to it.”

Daniel’s award-winning home contains features such as a concrete floor to hold heat, energy-efficient appliances, locally-sourced timber, quadruple-glazed windows, a vegetable garden and motion and light-activated lighting systems.

The home is powered by solar panels and the energy pathway from the panels to the home has been carefully thought out by Daniel.

He even built a water wheel as a second power source, which is gravity-fed by the river.

The judges said Daniel’s design was “thought through and explained the sustainability of all elements of his eco house.” Daniel’s teacher, Amy Johnson, says Minecraft has become a valuable educational tool.

“In order to create a complex design, the students need to consider their overall purpose and the smaller design features required to create this. It is a great tool for engendering creative and critical thinking skills, which are essential lifelong skills.”

Amy uses Minecraft as part of a reading response programme in conjunction with an app in which children can record their explanations or narrative of a scene.

“This has been an excellent tool for encouraging reluctant writers and seeing a more accurate representation of abilities for children with a specific learning difficulty, such as dyslexia, who have strengths thinking visually.”