Virtual Minecraft School
This week's project was a math-based measurement and scale assignment that required students to recreate both our classroom and our school using Minecraft Education.
We obtained a blueprint of our school, measured the main rooms (gymnasium, classrooms, library, etc.), and started designing our virtual school using those details. Each student was given the task of designing a specific room, and to do so, they visited that room for around five minutes in order to take notes and sketch the layout of the room. In my school, there are 22 classrooms, and I have 25 students in my class, so the numbers worked out perfectly with the remaining students forming a small team to work together on the bigger rooms (gymnasium, library).
This entire process took the majority of the week. The first step focused on planning the layout. I did not want the entire class involved in this step, as having 25 Minecraft characters trying to simultaneously read blueprints and the layout/outline of the school would be chaotic. Instead, I took a team of four students who were all proficient in Minecraft, and I got them to build a layout of the school in about 1.5 hours. The detail and scale involved in this task was pretty accurate. We included offices, storage rooms, washrooms, and even closets. We used my classroom as our starting point, creating a 30 foot x 20 foot room, and then scaling from there. Each block in Minecraft represented a foot in our actual school, so it became quite easy to scale the rest of the school to size (e.g., the room next to me is a 5 x 10-foot storage room, so it was simply a 5-block x 10-block Minecraft room).
After the layout of the school had been completed, I sent my students to their assigned classrooms to do sketches; as soon as they got back, they started designing the room within our virtual school. We replicated as many details as possible – the desk locations, the chalkboards, the SMARTboards, the teacher’s desk, etc. On average, each room took about two hours to complete.
The first few students who finished their virtual rooms were then assigned to complete other smaller rooms (bathrooms, offices, etc.). Once we had all of the rooms completed, I got my small team of four students to add the finishing touches (lighting in the hallways, finishing the roof, etc.), and we were able to complete the project.
We were very happy with our results and, for the next week, students were able to keep adding to the outside of the school we had designed (parking lot, schoolyard, etc.).
Problems We Were Able to Troubleshoot:
The only real issue we had was that I was not able to have my entire class on our server at the same time since it was lagging significantly and therefore didn’t allow us to work as smoothly as we would have liked. I dealt with this issue by having my students work in two different shifts, with half of them working on our virtual school, and the other half working on another assignment. They switched tasks after a specified amount of time.
This activity was a blast for my students and for me, too. It was an excellent way to incorporate math and measurement, collaboration and teamwork, all while providing a highly engaging activity for the kids.
An added benefit: You can make this assignment as large or as small as you want. We could have simply recreated our own classroom, or we could also have made an entire street. This project could be undertaken in any school where students have access to Chromebooks or computers.
Links and Products used:
We used "Minecraft Education" to create our virtual school and classroom