A group of A.H.P. Matthew Elementary students won a national Minecraft competition. (Surrey Schools photo)

A group of A.H.P. Matthew Elementary students won a national Minecraft competition. (Surrey Schools photo)

VIDEO: Surrey students win national Minecraft competition

A.H.P. Matthew Elementary students built futuristic city in the video game

There used to be a time when children would be punished for playing games in class.

Now, they’re receiving national recognition.

The Surrey school district announced Monday that a group of students from A.H.P. Matthew Elementary recently won first place in the 2021 Canadian Minecraft Challenge: Future Frontiers.

Minecraft is an open world computer and console game with a virtually infinite terrain. Players can extract raw materials, craft tools and items, and build structures or earthworks.

Grade 6 and 7 students Niharika Yadav, Julia Tchen, Simar Disanjh, Lorraine Feng, Bavsehaj Mann and Vicky Cao, who entered under the team name The Astronaut Cooperation, beat 274 teams from across Canada in a competition to design a futuristic community in the online game.

The Astronaut Cooperation built a self-sufficient, sustainable city in the year 2049.

The city, comprised of islands and tree houses, featured essentials such as government buildings, offices, factories, post office, library, farms, grocery stores and schools.

Built with an emphasis on greenery and nature, the city is powered by hydroelectricity and solar panels. The students also built a high-tech water filtration system that could also harvest sea soil to fertilize crops.

SEE ALSO: ‘Very surreal’: Surrey students help design space colony in NASA-backed competition

In a video highlighting the project, A.H.P. Matthew vice-principal Nadine Vandenberg said a focus of the assignment was around alternative energy sources and futuristic technology.

“We just looked at it through a design lens and looked at ways to solve problems. We talked about extreme environments and what the basic needs are for humans and how we can go about solving them. We also looked at the idea of community and what makes a community,” Vandenberg said.

Additionally, Hillcrest Elementary teacher Cole Stewart’s Grade 6 class won an award in the competition for musical production for the world they designed.

Stewart’s class took a more dystopian approach, saying climate change will make Earth uninhabitable by 2055, leading to future civilizations on the moon and Mars. The class designed spare shuttles, an underground subway, nuclear reactor and dome housing research stations. The intergalactic city was set to ominous piano and eerie drum beats, making it stand out in the musical production category.