Saturday, 25 August 2012

Minecraft as a Design Tool?

While I was at the VITTA conference about 2 weeks ago I came across a sales booth selling 3D printers for schools. I mentioned that I was very much into Minecraft, and more specifically MinecraftEdu for use in schools. I was asked "do you do much designing in Minecraft with students?" My initial answer was not really, but the more I think about it the more I think any time I get the students to build something in Minecraft they are designing.

This has led to a 'case study' in Minecraft as a design tool, I still don't have my hands on a 3D printer but I am working towards it. To help me to convince the powers at my school that this is a worthwhile spend I spent about 4 hours last night designing a couple of models in Minecraft to be printed. I am going to send them to the company, they will print them for me. I am also going to start a design competition at school for students, and the best design(s) will also be printed.

Here is a picture of what I designed last night.

On the left is a bacteriophage and on the right is a DNA helix. The box that these are in is 120X120X120 Minecraft blocks. The printer being used to print can print a 12X12X12cm 'block' which means that each Minecraft block is about 1mm in real life.

I still have quite a bit of 'print area' left and am trying to think of other things I can design in the print area to show other faculty heads in my school to try and get them on board and split the cost amongst more of us.

3D printers are also called RepRaps, google them for more info. You can buy kits and build your own if you have the money and time. However the one I am looking at is called and Up Mini which will work after about 15mins out of the box.

If you have a 3D printer, or have built one I would really like to hear from you about them and any suggestions you might have. If you are in a school that has access to a 3D printer I would like to hear how it is being used in different learning areas. If you are someone who knows of any grants or funding I could call upon to get some of these in my school I would REALLY like to hear from you. If you have any other comments please leave them in the comments section below.


  1. Hi,
    I'm an ICT teacher in Melbourne and would love to get involved with minecraftedu. I would love to set up a edu server and show the school the potential! we are about to start a small Minecraft club next week and will build from there.

    Do you live in Melbourne?

  2. Agreed Lynne,

    Also in Melbourne, would be great to get all of us involved and keep in touch. Eduelfie has set the trend!


  3. Hi Lynne and Carlin, thanks very much for your comments, I am based near Shepparton, so about 2 hours north of the city, but I cannot praise MinecraftEdu enough for providing easy to use tools for teachers and schools. If you guys need a hand with anything I do offer training for teachers on using MinecraftEdu in classes, or if you need any support with installation just send me an email at


  4. Hi Stephen,

    Our 10-year-old has just been reading about you in the latest edition of "Popular Science". Rather than just let him google "exploding Octanitrocubane"(?), I suggested we could email you and let you know how thrilled he is that you're exploring the value using game like Minecraft in a classroom setting.

    He asks whether you plan to visit other schools at all as he's very sure his friends would be thrilled with this idea!


    1. Hi Chrissy, thanks so much for your comment, I was not aware it had been published, so I rushed straight out and bought myself a copy.

      I would really like to be able to visit other schools to share what I currently do, however I teach full time and getting the time to do that requires some planning.

      If your sons school would like me to visit and talk about it I would be thrilled to do so, drop me a line at and we will sort something out.