WASHINGTON D.C. (WLNS) – The federal government is using the popular video game Minecraft to help kids improve their science, technology, engineering and math skills by designing airports of the future.

More than 2,800 students from 180 countries took on the challenge this year using the video game-building world of Minecraft to imagine the future.

Grade schoolers in Grand Rapids also came up with a space escape terminal, and a team from Detroit added virus detectors and robot greeters.

Brothers Brian and Sean Bartolo of Buffalo, New York teamed with Abby Roe of West Virginia to design new runway lights at Charleston’s Yeager Airport. The two 11-year-olds and the 9-year-old came up with bioluminescent fungi.

“They give off a lot of light. They’re very efficient. We assume. And they’re eco-friendly,” the kids said.

Those bright lights gave them bragging rights as they won in their age group.

But what do the kids prize most? Making new connections during a disconnected time.

“Even through this craziness, we still made a best friend,” said Brian.