Zoos launch Eco Detectives in Minecraft Education

Zoos launch Eco Detectives in Minecraft Education

Posted on 05th June 2024 by Media Relations

Creating the building blocks for young conservationists

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.

Person playing Eco Detectives
Person playing Eco Detectives
Eco Detectives, a Minecraft Education game
Eco Detectives, a Minecraft Education game

“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!” 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 

"As the climate crisis intensifies, it's crucial to provide creative and inspiring ways for young people -, our future conservationists -, to learn about our changing environment. Eco Detectives serves this purpose by offering a platform where players' choices truly matter in addressing climate hazards and biodiversity loss. This collaboration is about inspiring action and fostering a deep connection to the natural world through technology." Paul Maguire, Director of Education at Taronga Conservation Society.’   

“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.”  
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”  
Team Workbench  

Use the link below and sign up today for Minecraft Education Live Lessons on Eco Detectives Free Microsoft workshops for primary students and teachers in July, August, and September.