33 posts categorized "Thoughts"

Publishing a Challenge

The city has been built, and the pupils have left. How do we keep their work alive? How about turning their world into a MineCraftEdu challenge?

I'm currently looking at uploading their work into the MCE world library for others to download and enjoy.

Here's the video that introduces the idea...

If you use MineCraftEdu, then visit the World Library where you can find the challenge. Alternatively, click here

Secure that door

Now, this is something that I like the look of.

Using the ComputerCraft mod, with MineCraftEdu, to add a level of programming to the world. In particular, the ability to link a door to a computer to make a password protected entrance.

So, I've done just that in the quest set up for the children based on their city. Now they'll encounter this at some point within the quest (not saying where!)


Clicking on the computer screen presents them with


And how does it all work? With a little bit of programming of the computer itself.


Of course, the passcode for the door could be located anywhere, and it might not even register with the pupils that it's an important piece of information...

From Creating to Challenging

Well the pupils have completed the last big city build of the school year  - the hospital - so as they were desperate just to have time to "look around" the city I altered the MineCraftEdu mode from creative to Survival (no monsters / no fire / no building) to let them discover.

They wanted to know why I'd put it in survival mode, so I explained I wanted them to walk and run about, not fly into the sky and look all around them.

As they were looking around, I had an idea (based on what I had seen in the quite brilliant "World of Humanities MCE world"), to make their exploring a game - a challenge - a quest - and so began to add text to a few information points, and to a few books that had been scattered around the city creating clues to a series of challenges. 

The idea was simply;

- To start at the Town Hall and go inside to find a clue that led to another telling them where to start

- To travel to the school to find a clue in the library about a great explorer  that would lead them...

- To the city library where additional information would allow them to find the location of the great explorers home (the city library was the building recovered from the crashed build that was previously used to provide information)

- At the explorers home they had to  negotiate a maze that would lead them to the "explorers lodge" in the trees where they would find...

- The explorers diary that contained records of places that the explorer had been to so that the children could go to those places and discover objects created to the explorer.


They loved it. They were engrossed in the tasks, and as they wanted to 'be the first' they were darting about all over the place trying to mislead others who were following.

Being in survival mode though, they had health bars and needed to replenish energy with food. Normally in a game of MineCraft you'd just head out and kill an animal, but this was a city. People don't do that in a city, so they had to go searching for prepared food. But where would they find it? Eventually they realised that the shops, restaurants and cafés they'd built would contain it. In the form of a dispenser with a pressure plate in front of it. Stand on the pressure plate, and out pops a cooked chicken, or an apple, or a pie.

What I'm now wondering about is a booklet with space for them to record the items they find from the clues in the [ever expanding] explorers diary, along with space to write down some of the text on the in information boards (it may come in useful in the future).

Images of parts of this idea to come in the next post.

A Solution

Following on from my last post here, there has been a bit of an "uprising" by the pupils at school!  They've been moaning and moping and complaining to myself and their class teachers that their city project has been halted.

The good news about this "uprising" is that it has led to senior management coming up with a solution to the initial issue, and a request to resume the creativity sessions at lunchtimes and afternoon break times.  

So, we're back to building the hospital. And it's looking awesome. Images coming up in a separate post.

Calling a halt

The great MineCraft city is coming to an end. Not because the children are fed up of it. Not because I'm fed up of it. Not because the server cannot cope. No, the reason is simple - it's no longer a creative project that I have given up every lunchtime, assembly time and afternoon break time for the past 6 months.

When the project began I asked children if they used MineCraft at home. I asked them what they liked about it. From their answers I was able to choose a [small] group of creative users. The rest of the children had said they enjoyed blowing things up, fighting, and destroying buildings. These were qualities not needed for a creative project. So the small group began.

Other children - the ones who said they played MineCraft so that they could fight, destroy and blow up objects - started to ask why they couldn't join in. Eventually I started to allow them by setting a challenge. If they could design (on paper) a building for the city, they would have the chance to build it.

It worked well. There was a constant cycling of users, and lots of the children were getting a short  opportunity  to join in and contribute to the growing city.

And then the complaints began...

...children moaning that they hadn't been chosen.

...children going home and complaining to their parents, who then wrote letters or emails to school asking "Why is my XXX not allowed to join the MineCraft club, when YYY is in it?"

...staff then telling me (not asking me first) that they had told ZZZ they could 'join' because they were feeling lonely

...and then today, an email forwarded to me from management telling me to either release the children who stay in so that they can play with a particular child who has no one to play with, or else bring him into the project "if he decides he wants to".

So, as it was my own time I have been giving up everyday, and my own time every evening checking their work remotely logging into the school server and saving the city in case of any corrupted chunks (as happened before), I've decided to call a halt to the project. 

It's over. If it was a curriculum topic, and if it was part of my required duties then I'd continue, and bring the children as asked. But it isn't. It's something I did in my own time to give the children a chance to be creative. 

Unfortunately, it's becoming more and  more obvious that when you try and make a difference to children's lives and do something creative, if it proves successful you get dumped on. 

Their MineCraft city is still online, and some of the pupils have the ability to access it from home if they wish to, so they may be able to continue slowly with the hospital. However, it won't now be running in my lunchtimes, assembly times or break times.

And that's a shame.

Check the real thing. Bing!

The mapping option within Bing is really helping the pupils with their build. The isometric  'birds eye' view feature is allowing them to see where the building turns, where it cuts in, where it sticks out, and a host of other little features that they'd otherwise miss.

It's making their initial flat 2D plan redundant now, as they move from planning an outline to building upwards.

Bing_Maps 18

Multiples and Maths

The hospital project is underway, and so far the pupils have created the outside of the 'B' floor' for all 4 blocks of the hospital (East, South, West and the Medical School). 

They had already worked out that the hospital looked like it was built from 'sections' and that each of those sections was 16 Minecraft blocks long, and so used that to help with the length of the sides of the building. During the study of the plans, (and some photos), they also worked out that there were sections that seemed to be ½ the normal length, and a ¼ of a section width. 

Suddenly, stealth maths came into play; "this part has 5 ½ sections, so that 5x16 plus 8. It's 88 blocks long", and "it's 9 sections long, so that's 9x16. 9 eights are 72 so double is 144 blocks"

They've also studied photos carefully and realised that the height of each floor from the outside doesn't match up to what they know about how the building looks inside. This prompted a discussion about 'hidden floors' and why a hospital might need them. There were some interesting and confused ideas that emerged (the real reason is to carry essential power / services / gases around the hospital)

The next step is for them to start to look at the plans for the C, D, E, F and then A* floors and add those to their build - but they need to decide whether to build each floor one at a time, or whether to concentrate on the East Block, then West, then South, then the Medical School.

*We're leaving A floor until last as it doesn't follow the same plan and structure as the other floors.

Thinking big

The Minecraft city has been growing and growing, but it's missing one important building - a hospital. We have a rather large teaching hospital in our city, and so I've set the pupils a new challenge: to create a Minecraft version of the Queen's Medical Centre building.

The pupils began by looking at one part of the building (the 'main entrance' area) and worked out how they'd recreate it with blocks, After calculating the number of blocks needed for a section, they then looked at an online plan, and figured out the scale of the map. It turned out to be 1mm = 3.5 minecraft blocks. From this they measure the sides of the hospital plan, and worked out the dimensions of each floor. 

They've now started to construct the hospital. It's got a square footprint of 220,900 blocks, and it's going to take a while to build. Nothing like a big challenge as the end of the year approaches!

Photo 10-06-2015 20 03 42
Pupils 'blocked' out a section of the floor


Photo 10-06-2015 20 03 42
and used an online plan to work out all dimensions

Dockside gantry

Further to the last post - Holiday thinking - I've had a play, sorry, I mean I've been exploring the idea of a port. I blocked up a temporary idea, grabbed some screenshots and then went on a demolition fest. I'll give these images to the group next week, and see what they make of them in their plans before they start building in the re-vacated area.


Holiday thinking

Before the half term break began, the main 'designers' of the city (the original 4 children) decided that the city needed a new feature. As it was situated next to the sea, they thought a port would be a good idea. 

They've been given the half term task of looking at images of harbours / ports and seeing the kinds of features that they will need to build. They've already decided on a large crane, cargo containers and harbour buildings and so will need to plan how to build something like the following...

Container Crane




Harbour Warehouse