Namya Joshi fell in love with Minecraft, a video game in which players use Lego-style blocks to build anything, when she was barely nine years old. In class 5 then, she spent hours playing it on her parents’ phones and laptops and became adept at it.
She became so good at Minecraft that she used it to develop a tool for students to understand any topic. It’s a game-based learning tool that can be used as a substitute for text-based learning.
Now 16, Namya is studying humanities with mathematics in class 11 at Ludhiana’s Sat Paul Mittal School, and she’s among Microsoft’s Minecraft Student Ambassadors.
“If a student finds a particular topic or concept difficult to grasp, I try to create it in Minecraft in a way that makes it easy to understand,” says Namya, who has over 500 modules and tutorials available online, including 100 videos of Minecraft.
She is also an ace coder. “I used to learn Python and other (programming) languages during the Covid-19 pandemic and realised that I could teach what I learnt to teachers and students. So, I started teaching coding with Minecraft. I initiated a club for girls, GirlsinSTEM (science, technology, engineering and mathematics), which has over 100 members,” she adds.
Her motto is #EachOneTeachTen and, over the past six years, she has designed and delivered free coding workshops for almost 15,000 people, including 5,530 teachers and 7,960 students with a special focus on girls. She also helps other students run their own coding clubs.
Beyond coding, she has raised awareness about social issues like climate change, gender inequality and quality education through a combination of game-based learning and STEM principles.
Namya is inspired by her parents, who are experts in information technology. “She is very energetic, inquisitive and creative, and relies on reasoning. We provided our support and knowledge, but it was she who grabbed every opportunity,” says her mother Monica, who heads the IT department at Namya’s school. “She is doing wonderful work by making learning fun,” says her proud father Kunal.
Describing Namya as a gifted student, her school principal Bhupinder Gogia says she was given an opportunity to teach Minecraft to students of classes IV and V when she was 11. “Within a few months, she also trained teachers at our school and this opened doors for her.”
As social media made Namya famous, other schools, and then universities, invited her to train their students and teachers in Minecraft. “All through this journey, her teachers have been supporting her with extra classes, notes and worksheets,” principal Gogia says.
Namya’s aim is to represent India at the UN General Assembly and discuss social issues like climate change. She wants to pursue a degree in artificial intelligence and gaming after school.