HackMini: Tackling big issues with Minecraft and Mixiply

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Last week we worked with an inspiring group of students from Newlands Intermediate at Microsoft's Wellington offices. During the hackathon, students worked with Minecraft Education and Theta’s brand new AR/VR platform, Mixiply to develop a prototype app, game or activity to benefit their community.

The three-day hackathon was part of the school’s EOTC (education outside the classroom) week, and 26 students from years 7 and 8 participated, as well as two returning MiniDevs who are now at high school. Read on for some highlights from the event, and to find out more about the winning ideas.

Day one: briefing, pitching ideas and forming teams

Day two: Heads down, getting stuff done


Day three: wrapping up, the race to get everything ready to present, and ironing out any last minute glitches

Categories and winners

A range of category prizes were awarded by the judging panel, made up of representatives from the Ministry of Education, Theta, Newlands Intermediate School and Microsoft. 

Best presentation                                           

Geekos (Dungeons and Dragons mapping guide)

Best teamwork                                                

Minecraft Busters (Financial literacy app)

Best use of the technologies provided  

Anonymous (3D Planet gravity learning resource)

Idea with the greatest potential              

Greatness (VR Job skills game)

This was the overall HackMini winner.

Best concept                                                     

Minihackers (Global Choices game) 

Idea with most social impact                     

Those Guys (VR Anxiety management experience)        

Overall 3rd place

Most sophisticated idea                               

Mahera & Sam (Forensics Xombex outbreak)

Best user experience                                    

ADV (Anti-bullying VR game)                                                    

Overall 2nd place


HackMini feedback

Visitors from the Ministry of Education and Te Papa’s Hīnātore Learning Lab had plenty of positive feedback on HackMini. Ministry of Education Senior Adviser Suzie Tingley reports:

“It was so impressive to see how completely engaged the students were, what good working relationships they had with the Theta and Microsoft experts, and how each team handled the challenge of presenting their concepts.”

And for our innovation lab, the HackMini was also a valuable opportunity to learn directly from users working with our new product Mixiply. Says lab lead Jim Taylor:

“When we’re developing new ideas and new products, we’re keen for them to be in use as soon as possible, and to learn from that. We have a strong ethos of not working in isolation, and events like HackMini are a great way to fast-track product development”