This 13-year-old uses Minecraft to make learning easy and fun, and has received praise from Microsoft’s Satya Nadella
Always looking for something new to learn in the field of technology, Namya Joshi asked her mother, Monica, for permission to use her laptop for a school project. Just ten years old at the time, she came across Minecraft and asked her mother if she could tinker around.
Monica was feeling particularly generous as Namya had won a competition that day at school and gave her the login credentials. And the rest, as the saying goes, was history.
While working around in Minecraft, she found that she could craft her school lessons on it in a fun and interesting way.
A student of Sat Paul Mittal School, Ludhiana, Namya found that students of her age were easily distracted in class, especially during certain subjects, however interesting the teachers tried to make the classes.
“While I was in the sixth grade, I noticed some of the students in my class were disinterested and easily distracted. I thought of doing something on Minecraft that students would enjoy without waiting for the bell to ring,” she recalls.
Making lessons fun and interesting
Namya went onto craft “Egyptian civilisation” on Minecraft and showed it to her teacher who used it in her lesson. She found the concepts were understood easily when presented in the form of a visually appealing game.
The 13-year-old exhibits knowledge much beyond her years as she explains, “The human mind is designed in such a way that it is attracted to games. So, gamification can be used in education with the help of Minecraft, which makes it easy to discern, grasp, and understand concepts easily.”
She adds, “For example, you are learning Area and Volume in Mathematics. There is a template on Minecraft that can be used to explain the concept better. This way, it gets imprinted on the mind of the student than just through the manual way of writing on the board.”
The response from the students was overwhelming, and soon Namya was roped in to teach 104 students in her school on how to make lessons interesting to understand. She also realised how it feels to be on the other side, teaching her own teachers.
“I understood what teachers go through and how patiently they explain a concept a hundred times without complaining. It was a learning experience as well, which helped me to be kind and empathetic,” Namya says.
The school also obtained Minecraft licences and has integrated it into the curriculum from Grade 3 onwards.
Meeting the Microsoft CEO
Soon, Namya started getting noticed outside her school as well. Her mother, an IT expert and head of the IT department in her school, passed on her model to a few educators, and soon, Namya began receiving opportunities to educate teachers all over the world over Microsoft Teams.
She says, she feels good sharing her knowledge for, in teaching, she is learning as well.
Her biggest recognition came early this year when she was invited to be part of the Young Innovators’ Summit in New Delhi. She was the youngest participant at the summit and also saw her dream come true when she met Microsoft CEO, Satya Nadella.
“It was a thrilling experience to share the stage with an inspiring personality like him. He asked me all about how I was using Minecraft for education. I also told him about my goal of “Each one, Teach Ten” – if a person can teach 10 people and they in turn teach others, it will become a chain of teachers and learners. He commended by work and asked me to continue with it,” she says.
Apart from Minecraft, Namya also teaches programs like Scratch, Cahoot, and Flipgrid, besides being proficient in Photoshop, MS Paint, and coding languages like Python. She is also a student ambassador of SDGs for children.
During the lockdown, she has trained over 500 teachers and 300+ students. She was also invited as a keynote speaker at Asia Berlin Summit happening virtually in September this year. She got the opportunity to deliver her first ever TED talk on Why shouldn't Girls Have All The Fun at TEDxYouthSPMSLive. She has already spoken at KEOS2019 – a global education conference in Finland, where she also conducted a workshop for teachers.
It would be difficult to believe how a 13-year-old would fit in so much and beyond in her life.
As her mother Monica Joshi puts it, “Namya has always been a child full of energy, looking for things to do. She is most happy when she is creative and always learning. She enjoys every moment being able to create and teach.”
Apart from Minecraft, the young achiever spends her time in calligraphy, drawing, yoga, and reading JK Rowling and Rick Riordan. She has a timetable she follows diligently every day that she says, helps her manage “time fruitfully”. Besides all these, she has time to post on her blog and also run a YouTube channel that features tech tutorials.
It’s a given Namya wants to pursue information technology when she grows up. The ultimate aim, however, is to be a social entrepreneur.
“I want to use technology to bring feasible ideas at an affordable cost and create a lasting impact in society,” she says.
Edited by Megha Reddy