Interested in the Harquail School of Earth Sciences?

Fill out this form and we will contact you with details about our programs!

Learn More!

Harquail School of Earth Sciences’s Minecraft-inspired rock ID game helps school children discover geology

Rock ID games available for use at all Greater Sudbury Public Library branches

The Harquail School of Earth Sciences (HES) at Laurentian University hopes to nurture interest in the geosciences among local youth by offering their “Special Edition Minecraft-inspired Rock identification game” at all 13 branches of the Greater Sudbury Public Library (GSPL). The game consists of 12 mineral and rock samples and bilingual clue cards to help players identify them. The game was conceived and developed by Tobias Roth, a Geoscience Technologist at Laurentian University, with funding support from the Canadian Geological Foundation (CGF). The idea to develop these Rock ID game sets started on a hike with kids that were around 10 years old and who loved collecting rocks, especially those they knew from playing Minecraft. The project then came to fruition through the generous support from the CGF. 

Photo: Logan Courchesne and Weeda Tiraei, students in the Earth Sciences B.Sc. program at the Harquail School of Earth Sciences, discovering rocks and minerals from the bilingual "Minecraft-inspired Rock Identification Game."

Roth created a first-edition game during the pandemic, sending the game to teachers who could share them with students in class, or use them during virtual classes and Earth Sciences outreach events. He has since refined the game, gathering feedback from players, and with much help from Earth Sciences students and colleagues at Laurentian. "Everyone has been really enthusiastic about the game, the box, and the rocks inside,” Roth said. “Many young children and teens are familiar with rocks like obsidian, granite, and diorite through playing the Minecraft video game, but many have never actually seen or held them in real life. The new Minecraft-inspired identification game has turned out to be a fun, hands-on way for youth to learn more about rocks and minerals and what they’re used for.” Children often like to challenge their family and friends with the game, but it can also be enjoyed as a single-player experience.

“The Greater Sudbury Public Library is happy to collaborate with the Harquail School of Earth Sciences at Laurentian University. The Greater Sudbury area is defined by rich mineral deposits so this partnership is a great way to provide an educational resource about the rocks under our feet. This Minecraft-inspired identification game is a welcome addition to resources available to the library that help provide educational and fun activities for library patrons of all ages to engage in while visiting the library. Join us at any one of our 13 library locations to take part in a drop-in programming activity to explore this interactive experience,” said Chantal MacRae, Child and Youth Programmer, Greater Sudbury Public Library. 

Throughout the past year, the Harquail School of Earth Sciences has organized and participated in numerous field trips, in-school class visits, fairs, and videoconferences. Teachers are encouraged to reach out to Tobias Roth (tm_roth@laurentian.ca), to schedule an event for their class, and find out how they can get a Minecraft-inspired rock ID game for their classroom. 

To win one of these games, watch and play in our virtual "Geology Games" events, a series of a live educational gameshow, each with a duration of 45 minutes. "Geology Games" is featuring some of Earth’s most interesting minerals, rocks, and fossils. During each event, you will have the chance to play a Kahoot! and the three folks on the podium will each win one of three "Minecraft-inspired rock ID games" with 12 samples and clue cards inside!

Register here - we'll be live during the following times:

Wed, Mar 1, 10:00 AM EST: Geology Games: Fossil Frenzy

Wed, Mar 15, 10:00 AM EST: Geology Games: Mind over Magma

Wed, Mar 29, 10:00 AM EST: Geology Games: Sedimentary Special

Wed, Apr 12, 10:00 AM EST: Geology Games: Under Pressure

Wed, Apr 26, 10:00 AM EST: Geology Games: Conquer the Crater

You will look at different specimens under the microscope and learn what they are how they form. Through demonstrations and a Kahoot! quiz, participants will be challenged to learn more and grow their curiosity about the rocks and minerals that make up planet Earth.

Discover the unique properties of some of the minerals used in Minecraft, and see them in a completely different light!

Challenge yourself and your friends while learning about some of Earth’s most interesting and valuable minerals.

Ask questions about rocks and minerals and have them answered!

Also, stay tuned by following us on Instagram @luearthsciences, and Twitter @HarquailES.


"Many young folks today become familiar with rock and mineral names like obsidian, diorite, quartz, and calcite by playing Minecraft. We thought using the real rocks and minerals straight from nature would be a fun and hands-on way to introduce Earth sciences to youth.” 
Tobias Roth - Geoscience Technologist, Harquail School of Earth Sciences, Laurentian University

"Wow! Thank you so much! I absolutely love it [the Minecraft-inspired rock ID game]. The quality of the specimens is really wonderful. I'm super thrilled and so grateful." Malinda Prud'homme - Rockhounding and Mineral Tour Guide, Toronto, Ontario




Upcoming Events