What-If Hypothetical Implementations
in Minecraft 

WHIMC is a National Science Foundation-funded research project conducted by an interdisciplinary team of researchers at the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign, the University of Maine, the University of Colorado-Boulder, and PBS NOVA. Collaborators and data collection sites include the C-U Community FabLab, The Children’s Museum of Indianapolis, Learn 01 in Miami, and the Urbana Neighborhood Connections Center.

The goal of WHIMC is to develop computer simulations that engage, excite, and generate interest in science. WHIMC leverages Minecraft as a learning environment for learners to interactively explore the scientific consequences of alternative versions of Earth via “what if?” questions, such as “What if the earth had no moon?” or “What if the earth were twice its current size?”

Continue learning about the project….


July 2020 – We returned for the third straight year to the Urbana Neighborhood Connections Center (UNCC), but this time we did so virtually. Despite our team being remote, we had two exciting weeks exploring hypothetical versions of Earth and Exoplanets in Minecraft. We also recorded a record number of unique in-game observations by a single camper at 96 in one week. We will see if that number can be topped next year!

February 2020 – We presented our work and led a week-long professional development workshop series with Ateneo University in the Philippines.  Topics covered included the use of Minecraft for informal learning in STEM, introductory programming with ComputeCraft, computational thinking applications in curriculum design, and 3D printing. Over 150 people came to our opening talk and we worked with over 15 representatives from schools, the Department of Education, and one non-government organization. Read more about it here. Many thanks to Didith Rodrigo and her many collaborators!

Sep 2019 – New articles on our work from the University of Illinois News Bureau and Associated Press. Fox Champaign visited campus to interview us last week, so we’ll be posting a link to that video in coming weeks!

Aug 2019 – We are very excited to share the news that our follow-on proposal has been funded by the National Science Foundation! Our new grant will allow us to create new STEM interest-triggering resources, tools for exoplanet exploration and creation, new online learning activities (in collaboration with PBS NOVA), and corresponding planetarium shows (in Boulder, CO). See the NSF summary for more information.

July 2019 – We returned to the Urbana Neighborhood Connections Center for another exciting two weeks of What-if and Exoplanet exploration in Minecraft!

Apr 2019 – We are running a camp at the Next Generation School. What an entrance!

Mar 2019 – Catch us in June at the Foundations of Digital Games conference discussing our findings from our work with the Urbana Neighborhood Connections Center and FabLab.

Feb 2019 – Check out Dr. Lane & Dr. Comins at AISL!

Jan 2019 – Look out for our talk at ISTE this June. Learn more about our project and ways to implement games like Minecraft into your own classroom.

June 2018 – It was great working with enthusiastic campers and staff at Urbana Neighborhood Neighborhood Center and FabLab. Now to dive into data…

May 2018 – Our 2018 NSF STEM for All Video Showcase entry received a faciltators’ Choice Award!