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Minecraft: Education Edition makes its way to the iPad. (Microsoft Photo)

Just in time for back-to-school, “Minecraft: Education Edition” is coming to Apple’s iPad. And also for the first time, a set of features created for the Education Edition has been made available to all Minecraft players.

Microsoft announced Monday that the school version of Minecraft will debut on the iPad in September. At that time, the Minecraft: Education Edition app will be downloadable from Apple’s App Store for use with annual Education Edition subscriptions purchased from Microsoft. Free tutorials and other class resources for teachers are on the Minecraft: Education Edition site.

The reason Microsoft added iPad support was straightforward: School districts have iPads and want students to be able to learn about STEM and other subjects with Minecraft on Apple’s tablets in addition to the Windows 10 and Mac OS devices that can already run Education Edition.

Microsoft’s Deirdre Quarnstrom at a 2017 Minecraft education event. (Andrew Kelly/AP Images for Microsoft)

However, making the Education Edition work with iPads required optimizing it for “pure touch input,” said Deirdre Quarnstrom, general manager of Minecraft Education at Microsoft. After testing it with a couple of schools, she said, “we’ve made sure it’s a great experience for touch” and will support newer Education Edition features introduced earlier this year.

“We’re just excited to be able to respond to the requests we’ve had from schools and large districts,” Quarnstrom said. “Students will be able to play across Windows and iPad.”

At the same time, Microsoft is drawing attention to features initially developed only for Education Edition that have started crossing over to consumer Minecraft. The first is the Chemistry Resource Pack, which was announced for schools in January and uses game-based learning to introduce chemistry concepts. It features a full periodic table and a compounding table, similar to Minecraft’s crafting table.

Building compounds in Minecraft’s Chemistry Resource Pack. (Microsoft Image)

This summer, consumer Minecraft players on Windows 10 PC and the Xbox console were given access to the Chemistry Resource Pack. Microsoft’s tip: In the game, go to the ‘Create New World’ option and under the ‘Cheats’ menu, toggle on ‘Education.’

In highlighting the new feature today, the company said it allows players to experiment, for example, by first making helium and latex to craft balloons.

Quarnstrom said that the Chemistry Resource Pack won’t be the last Education Edition feature to make the transition to “Bedrock,” or consumer, Minecraft versions.

“Chemistry really was a logical addition because you’re crafting things and crafting compounds, so it fits really well,” she told GeekWire. When it comes to game play experiences, “Our goal is to bring over all of the education features and give access to all players,” with the exception of the administrative classroom tools.

In part, Quarnstrom said that’s because consumer Minecraft is also used for educational purposes in “nontraditional learning environments,” such as with parents after school and in home schooling. They, too, can make use of the hundreds of lesson plans that Quarnstrom said are on the Minecraft: Education Edition site.

While consumer Minecraft is on 21 platforms, Education Edition is now up to three, including iPads. Quarnstrom said Microsoft is eyeing more for Education Edition, but has no immediate announcements. “Chromebooks is probably one of the biggest requests we get from educators,” she said.

Microsoft says Minecraft: Education Edition now has 35 million licensees in 115 countries. Microsoft acquired Minecraft maker Mojang in 2014. Two years later, Microsoft purchased the licensed school version of Minecraft, MinecraftEDU, which it updated and re-launched the same year as Minecraft: Education Edition.

Since then, it’s added a number of features to Education Edition, including the Chemistry Resource Pack, more computer science curricula, and the Update Aquatic, all this year.

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