Photo Credit: Microsoft
Last week, on the stage at Microsoft's Future Decoded technology summit in Bengaluru, Microsoft CEO Satya Nadella ended his keynote presentation by praising 13-year-old Namya Joshi, a girl from Ludhiana. Joshi had earned the spotlight thanks to her work a year ago in using the block-building game Minecraft, to create educational experiences that helped other school children like herself learn about history and other subjects. In the year since she won the UNESCO Clubs 2018-2019 Worldwide Youth Multimedia Competition, Joshi hasn't rested on her laurels, and is an example of young people leveraging technology to improve the world. Gadgets 360 spoke to Joshi, to learn more about her experiments with Minecraft, and the things she has experienced in the last year.
At the summit, Nadella said, "I was energised to meet so many young innovators in India this week, including Namya Joshi who is training teachers around the world on how to use Minecraft as a learning tool. Their empathy, passion and ingenuity will change our world for the better.” Technology now allows anyone — with no formal training — to learn and create new and impressive things, from using existing pieces of code to create apps, or by leveraging games to create educational modules. YouTube videos and other online tools are a great way to learn new things, and make it possible for anyone to reach the world stage.
Joshi, an avid reader, created a project a project called “Magical World of Books Leading to #SDG'S 2030” that featured elements from Harry Potter universe and the Egyptian civilization, for which she secured a winner's spot in the 10-14 year category. When asked what new Minecraft Worlds has she created following her victory, she enthusiastically detailed an exhaustive list across various subjects, and more that she plans to work on in the near future.
“I've created new Minecraft Worlds on states of matter for chemistry, cybersecurity, Each Drop Counts-—Save Water for environmental studies, respiratory system for biology. I've also created a Minecraft World on good health and well-being, which shows how people are living now and how they used to live (back) then. I've also created a few lessons in French as well”, she said. And she's got more in the works, with plans to create more worlds to explore. Next up will be the Seven Wonders of the World, and the history of India during the Mughal rule — which are a part of her academic curriculum as well.
Like many young people, she's also full of excitement for the future and wants to do everything she possibly can. A voracious reader, her favourite books are the Harry Potter series, and she's now reading Percy Jackson's adventures. So, apart from building Minecraft worlds, Joshi also dreams of being an author, and has also written the first two chapters of a book, The Secret Of The Island, which she describes as a thriller full of mysteries.
The seventh grade student said that “it felt awesome” becoming an instructor for her own teachers and correcting them, while getting them acquainted to a whole new world of learning. But she's not just been showing her methods to her own teachers. Most recently, she was invited as a guest speaker at ‘KEOS 2019' event in Jyvaskyla, Finland, where she conducted a workshop for teachers on using Minecraft in schools.
UNESCO has also invited Joshi to the Builders of the Universe Camp at Hood College in Maryland, USA, later this year. “More students can enjoy with my journey as I believe in "Each One Can Teach Ten". Each one should share the learning with the next ten, and with this chain, we can make this reaction beautiful, learning and impactful,” she said.
Joshi's journey started when she was playing Minecraft's Education Edition on her mother's laptop, Joshi told Gadgets 360. Her mother Monica Joshi, is the IT head of the school where Namya was studying, and also works as a part of the Microsoft Innovative Educator program. After playing the game, Joshi got hooked and started to create different worlds, before stumbling onto the idea of creating worlds that her classmates could explore. After showing this to her mother, and other teachers, Joshi started training others to use Minecraft as a tool for education too, via Skype sessions and her YouTube channel.