A free Minecraft world model of the Lake Champlain Basin built with real-world data

We've created a Minecraft® world using real data of the Lake Champlain Basin

The idea for Lakecraft was inspired by a 2013 Freshwater Summit held at ECHO, Leahy Center for Lake Champlain, at which Vermont Agency of Natural Resources Commissioner David Mears casually fantasized that someday his child would play a hypothetical, educational game he dubbed "Lakecraft" rather than spending all his time on Minecraft. After exploring avenues for "gamifying" big data as part of the work of the Summit, ECHO was struck by the novelty of Mears' remark. Lakecraft appeared an attractive solution for two reasons. 1: It could capitalize on an existing platform, adapting an already popular game for educational use. 2: It was "hackable" by design, encouraging users of all levels to modify worlds in game play and through computer programming. Serendipitously, ECHO was able to link up with two gifted programmers during CodeforBTV's 2013 National Day of Civic Hacking event, who would create the first version of Lakecraft.

You can preview Lakecraft via your personal copy of Minecraft. Once the world file is downloaded (see: "Installation"), you can freely modify the world on your personal computer or your own local server.

Note: If you make major upgrades to the world, for example integrating 3-D SketchUp models of area landmarks or additional geospatial data, submit them in .world file format for possible inclusion in a future update.

Educational Use

Minecraft is a popular, multiplayer sandbox game that models the real world in a virtual environment. Employed correctly, it can be used a powerful tool for engaging students in the exploration of real world spatial data and introductory programming. Within Minecraft, players are able to craft everyday items (houses, trees) using blocks within the game’s environment. At a more advanced level, students can modify entire worlds and develop basic computer programming skills. Minecraft’s functionality lends itself to the teaching of various subjects, including ecology, chemistry, and physics. Read this article to learn more about the applications of Minecraft in your classroom here

Custom Educator's Package

While the Lakecraft "world files" for use with Minecraft are free, we suggest that classroom educators purchase the The MinecraftEdu package rather than conventional Minecraft game licenses for use in their school. MinecraftEdu modifies the game's code to provide additional control features for teachers. With MinecraftEdu, teachers can control students movements, limit players' access to in-game materials, and easily set-up a local server for hosting Lakecraft and other world files. MinecraftEdu also provides a training world for acquainting students unfamiliar with the game's command.s. Visit, MinecraftEdu to purchase the package at a discount educator's rate ($376 for 25 licenses and the MinecraftEdu Custom Mod or $18 per license + $41 for the MinecraftEdu Custom Mod).

(Note: Neither the Lakecraft team nor ECHO has any relationship with MinecraftEdu, TeacherGaming, or Mojang Software - we just think it is the best option for using Minecraft in an education setting)

Sample Applications
  • High School/College: Have students explore available GIS data sets, such as population data, environmental data, and transportation data, for our region and then layer them into the Lakecraft world.

  • Middle School: Have students locate and research significant geographic sites in the Lake Champlain Basin, such as Camel’s Hump, Juniper Island, and Bulwagga Bay, and then interpret them by constructing signage and placing informational books at those locations

  • Elementary School: Have students identify important community resources, such as energy suppliers, food system providers, and transportation networks, and then build a model community in Lakecraft.

Requirements For Download

Via World File
  1. A licensed copy of Minecraft

  2. 4 GB free hard disk space. The world is approximately 4 GB uncompressed.

  3. A minimum 2 GB of RAM

  4. A 7-Zip un-archiver


  1. Download the whole Lake Champlain basin Minecraft world 7Zip archive [3.1GB]

    Or get a sub-region of the watershed! The current options are...

  2. Unzip the archive to a temporary location

  3. If using the "world" with a non-server installation of Minecraft (you are just running it on your PC), then you need to move the extracted Lakecraft folder to your Minecraft "saved games" folder/directory. If you are using Lakecraft on a server, you need to get a copy of Minecraft server running, and then edit the server.properties file to refer to the extracted world folder.

Getting Around

The default spawn location for Lakecraft is The Burlington Waterfront. The world’s boundaries are those of the Lake Champlain watershed, within which are parts of Vermont, New York, and Quebec. The world does not currently provide a mechanism for geolocating your player. However, major and secondary roads, rivers, and geographic landmarks, such as mountains and bays, can help you locate yourself within the world. We aspire to integrate GPS navigation in a future update.

The Team

Nina Ridhibhinyo
// Project Leader

Nina Ridhibhinyo is the Education Group Programs Manager at the ECHO Lake Aquarium and Science Center in Burlington, VT, coordinating their school, summer camp, and overnight programs. Prior to ECHO, Nina was an after school site leader for the Burlington School District's 21C Champlain Elementary School site. She has a ScB in Environmental Science from Brown University and is currently enrolled in a Masters of Science Education program with a focus on Free-Choice Learning through the Oregon State University's e-campus.

John Cohn
// Resident Mad Scientist

John Cohn is currently an IBM Fellow in IBM Corporate Strategy John received his undergraduate degree in Electrical Engineering at MIT, and earned a Ph.D. at Carnegie Mellon University. John has authored more than 30 technical papers and has contributed to four books on design automation. He has more than 60 patents issued or pending in the field of design automation, methodology, and circuits. He is active in education issues at a local, state and national level and he spent 59 days living and inventing in an abandoned steel mill as part of Discovery Channel's new technical survival show "The Colony".

Will Fallows
// Web Guru

Will Fallows is a professional software engineer focused on game development. With over 4 years exerience in the software industry, he has worked with several big-name clients such as Microsoft, Disney, PopCap, and Warner Bros working on both mobile and desktop applications. He has a BS in Game Programming from Champlain College and specializes in tools, gameplay, AI, and project management. In his free time he enjoys researching viral marketing campaigns, distance running, and mastering the art of microwave brownies.

Nick Floersch
// Minecraft Master

Nick Floersch is a Project GIS/Web Applications Specialist at Stone Environmental, Inc. He has a ScB in Computer Science from Bishop University.

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