“I wish I could go back to being in middle school,” said Satya Nadella, CEO Microsoft after meeting and talking to the 13-year-old Namya Joshi, brimming with plans and ideas for a better future.
A prodigy, Namya a class 7 student at the Sat Paul Mittal School in Ludhiana, has been leveraging technology to make learning and teaching fun, not just for herself but also for teachers across the globe by using interactive Minecraft sessions. In this exclusive interview with The Better India (TBI), Namya tells us her story that so impressed the Microsoft CEO.
It was at the Young Innovators Summit, 2020 held in New Delhi that Namya got a chance to speak about her journey of using technology to make learning and teaching interesting. She then had an interaction with Nadella regarding her interest in Minecraft and the many innovative ways she utilising its potential.
Infact after the Summit, the Indian-origin executive also took to Twitter to express his appreciation of the work that young innovators, like Namya are involved in.
I was energized to meet so many young innovators in India this week, including Namya Joshi who is training teachers around the world on how to use Minecraft as a learning tool. Their empathy, passion and ingenuity will change our world for the better. https://t.co/iF2GxUGkSq
— Satya Nadella (@satyanadella) February 26, 2020
What is Minecraft?
Best described as a ‘lego’ styled video game, players are placed in various randomly generated worlds which the players can manipulate. When asked how she started using Minecraft, she smiles and says, “By accident.”
It all started two years ago when Namya was working on her school project when she chanced upon Minecraft and then spent the evening trying to understand its nitty gritties. Recollecting the time she explored it for the first time, she says, “I remember the software asking for a username and password. I had won a competition at school that day and my mother was feeling generous and that is how I managed to get her login credentials for Minecraft.”
When asked how she got the idea of using Minecraft as a teaching methodology, she says, “At school I was exposed to tools that Microsoft has such as Scratch and Flipgrid. Minecraft was also another tool that was used but its potential was not fully explored.”
She goes on, “If for example, a student finds a particular topic or concept difficult to grasp, I try and create it on Minecraft in a way to make it easy for the student to understand it.”
She says that looking at the Minecraft model of the topics always helps in understanding the concept better. It was her mother who encouraged her to work on the software and find ways to use it for her academics as well.
Monica Joshi, who is the IT head at Sat Paul School, adds to this and says, “As a Microsoft expert educator myself, I had thought I would learn to use Minecraft but was surprised to see Namya playing with a special edition of the game customised for class environment. She took to it so well.”
“What’s most amazing,” Namya says “is that now I can tell teachers to listen to me and pay attention to what I’m saying. It’s a great feeling,” she says with a giggle.
Young Innovator’s Summit
At the Summit Namya says she was a bundle of nerves and excitement all at once. “To be able to speak and address an audience, which included Satya Nadella was a huge thing for me,” she says. She shares enthusiastically that as she was on stage speaking about her journey of using Minecraft to create teaching materials for classes, she could see Nadella nod in consent and give her a thumbs up for the work that she was presenting.
Namya is the recipient of several awards for her innovative idea and in December 2018, she won the National Minecraft Competition and has also been nominated as India’s ambassador for Sustainable Development Goals for Children.
While Namya is just 13 and has a long way to go before deciding on what her career option could be, she seems very firm when she says, “I wish to work at Microsoft when I am older. I want to continue to use Minecraft and find ways to incorporate that into our daily lives.”
Having already trained more than 100 teachers across the globe on the use of Microsoft tools such as Minecraft, Scratch, and Flipgrid, Namya believes that technology can be incorporated into learning to make it both fun and appealing.
(Edited by Saiqua Sultan)