Monday, 7 January 2013

I Am Still Alive.

Happy new year everyone. I am still alive and kicking, still messing around with MinecraftEdu and planning my next year of Minecraft learning lessons. I am going to keep the backstory short as to why I have not posted in ages, but I feel you deserve a bit of an explanation.

My 2 year old daughter broke her leg mid October and my wife was due to give birth to our second child late November. Unfortunately the plaster was on until mid December so I had to take time off work to support my wife with my daughter. I thought things would settle after the plaster came off and while I would most likely not be back at work for 2012 I would have plenty of time to work on planning for 2013 and beta testing the latest MinecraftEdu release. It turns out a 2 year old with a sore leg and a new born baby are what I have taken to calling a 'time sink'. All 'free' time disappears into these two (amazing) little children. Finally things are starting to settle down and I managed to spend some time doing 'stuff' towards MinecraftEdu and planning.

Some really exciting news that @Kulttuuri has blogged about is that ComputerCraft is coming to a Minecraft install near you. On top of this the MinecraftEdu mod is being reworked to become a Forge mod, which for those who are not into the modding of Minecraft means that theoretically MinecraftEdu can be combined with any Forge compatible mod (which for me, excitingly means an in-game NBT editor that will allow me to create custom spawners for my Edventure maps)

So I spent my New Years night (about 5-6 hours of it) modding a Minecraft install with Forge and installing ComputerCraft to get a bit of a headstart and a clearer idea of what capabilities I am going to have access to when it comes to MinecraftEdu and WOW!!! I was hooked.

I watch a fair bit of Minecraft on YouTube when I get time and I have been watching the Mindcrack crew play Feed The Beast and have been really enjoying watching Guude mess with something called Turtles. I figured "I know a little programming language, enough to get me by surely" but let me tell you I am a complete and utter noob. I have done a fair amount of BASIC programming and the LUA language has some similarities but there was a fair bit of reading web tutorials trying to get my turtle to what I wanted it to do.

I have learnt a few neat tricks that I will share through YouTube when I get a chance, and I am super excited about starting a lunchtime Minecraft programming club at school when I go back in about a month and learning alongside the kids.

The real reason I am posting a blog today is that today I managed to find some time to go through the junior maths course I am teaching this year and brainstormed some pretty neat ideas for the various topics being covered and also started fleshing them out and planning them a bit more. I have ideas for most topics over the year, most are simple activities that I think should help students understand the concepts a bit more.

Here is the idea list so far (in order of teaching I think).

  • Theoretical vs Experimental Probability
  • Venn Diagrams
  • Length & Perimeter
  • Area
  • Volume & Surface Area
  • Scale
  • Place Value
  • Fractions (maybe)
  • Positive and Negative Numbers
  • The Cartesian Plane
  • Sampling/Collecting Data
  • Bar & Column Graphs
  • Line Graphs
  • Simple Algebraic Equations
  • Isometric Drawings & Plans
  • Nets & Perspective Drawings
  • Rotations & Reflections
I will be sharing the full plans and the map with the community but that leaves me in a bit of a pickle. I think I want this to be a persistant "Year 8 Maths World" and I would love even more if I could open this map up to students outside of school hours, there are technical issues that will probably prevent this from happening. But the idea of a Year 8 Maths world in which students could also have time to build and play in is something that intrigues me, giving them ownership of the world but having math learning areas that they could revisit if they wanted at any time. 

This leaves me with some options, I could share the plans and parts of the map separately as I complete the building and people could import them into their own worlds or I could hold off and share the entire map at the end of the year when I have built all the different parts. Of course there is no reason I could not do both and I think this is probably the way I will go, share the parts throughout the year and publish the entire map at the end of the year with everything that the students have built and completed to give them a 'real audience' to build for, but I would like to ask for your opinion. Do you think sharing the individual parts is a good idea? And is sharing the students completed work and buildings appropriate and providing them with an authentic audience?

Well that is a pretty long post, so if you have made it here to the end, thanks so much for taking the time to read and I will try to do more planning and blogging over the coming weeks as well as sharing my findings about ComputerCraft and my maths world builds.


  1. Nice one Elfie, first post for 2013. Sorry to hear about your daughters leg, i can imagine it was a hectic time for you both.
    Thank goodness you post on this blog, it is my main connection with MinecraftEdu

  2. Thanks Tim, glad to keep you in the loop.

    Lost Ninja, if you get this message, I just looked at the MystCraft mod, sounds intriguing but I am not entirely sure what you are suggesting, perhaps send me an email with a bit more detail as I like the basic principle.

  3. Hello Elfie,

    a happy new year to you. I use MinecraftEdu and an MCForge Server with ComputerCraft in my computer science class parallely.
    So I'm more than happy when MinecraftEdu supports ForgeMods.
    FYI: In August last year I wrote a peripheral for ComputerCraft to control the Lego WeDo robots from within Minecraft. If you like, you can watch two examples at .
    I blog at about my experiences, but in German only, sorry :\