Friday, 8 March 2013

The Periodic Table

I was talking to another member of the Science faculty at my school today about the 3D printer I had just sent the order form off for. It blew his mind, but after about 5 minutes of thinking he said "could it print a periodic table for Frank" (Frank is the blind student, not his real name). So I started to think, how could we make this happen, the current braille version that Frank has is not in the 'shape' of the periodic table, I think it is more like a list and the teacher I was talking to said that it is quite hard to teach the chemistry behind the periodic table if it is not in groups and laid out the way it is supposed to be.

So I said that I would have a go at creating a version over the long wekend. Now designing this in a 3d design program would take me forever, but wait don't I have access to a 3d design program that is based on blocks and would make this way easier to design?

So after spending about an hour in MinecraftEdu I have 3 periods of the table done, and given what I imagine the sizes to be I will be able to print 3 across and 4 down on my printer so I am going to do a test print and take it into school next week give it to Frank and see if the braille is correct and easy enough to read. Then I will show it to the teacher and ask if there is anything else.

Just taking some screenshots I think there may be a problem, but I will print it anyway and get the feedback, here are the screenshots.

More updates after I get the feedback from the other teacher and the student.


  1. Great idea! I found a periodic table on thingiverse and did a remix. Couldn't fit the atom number though. I think its to big to print on your printer (20CM) but please take a look!

    1. Thanks for pointing me to that, I for some silly reason googled it but did not check Thingiverse. I have emailed the teacher and asked whether he wants that one, or whether he wants me to keep making my version.

  2. Hello Elfie, I am a primary school teacher in Spain, we also experience Minecraft Edu .
    I would love you to join my Edmodo group "minecraft create and discover" The idea of the group is the following:

    I am José Manuel Sáez, primary school teacher in Spain. In this photo you can see me and some of my pupils. I hope we can share experiences and ideas with minecraft. All the students can upload the screenshot or photo of their houses or maybe breakthroughs in minecraft. The idea is sharing and writing. My students will present themselves here; I hope you do the same so we know something about you. Greetings from Spain.

    This is my e-mail write me and I will give you the Edmodo code and make you co-teacher. I hope we could try this. Kind regards

  3. G'day Stephen,
    I just listened to you on last year's Ed Tech Crew podcast. I thought it was great and it's given me a bunch of ideas.
    I run a 'gamer's group' twice a week at lunchtimes that is open to anyone. It is aimed at students who have very little interest in typical recess and luchtime activities and gives them something constructive to do. I've just started a 'Massive Mindcraft' design competition. You can imagine how blown away I was to here from you that I can print these out with a 3D printer! So now I have worked out a prize for the best massive design, to turn the model into reality with a 3d print.
    So here's my question. Do you know of a 3D printing company that will print off a mindcraft file? I am an absolute beginner at mindcraft but I am reasonably tech minded for a teacher. I thought this would be a good starting point rather than going out and buying one and I'm not even going to contemplate making one.

    Jason McMahon
    Terang COllege

    1. Does this fit the bill:

      Down the page about halfway there's reference to ordering through Shapeways. Mind you I've never actually done this but am very curious about printing Minecraft objects in 3D.

    2. I use Mineways to export to an stl file, and then I print it on an Up Plus 3D printer. But yes ordering through shapeways is an option.

  4. Hi Stephen, I am curious as to whether you have used the mod Feed the Beast. It seems like an interesting way for students to learn about power and energy. I have a group of GATs kids working on one of these themes on a Maths on Planet Earth long range project, and they are wanting to incorporate minecraft.

    The four themes of Mathematics of Planet Earth are:

    A PLANET TO DISCOVER: oceans; meteorology and climate; mantle processes, natural resources, solar systems
    A PLANET SUPPORTING LIFE: ecology, biodiversity, evolution
    A PLANET ORGANIZED BY HUMANS: political, economic, social and financial systems; organization of transport and communications networks; management of resources; energy
    A PLANET AT RISK: climate change, sustainable development, epidemics; invasive species, natural disasters

    I am thinking the last two themes would lend themselves to using Minecraft, particularly A PLANET ORGANIZED BY HUMANS - management of resources and energy in relation to using Feed the Beast.

    Wondering if you have any suggestions off the top of your head? Cheers and thanks, Viv Tuckerman

  5. Hi Viv, I say someone ask this on the G+ community and had not got around to replying yet. I have not played FTB myself, but I have watched a fair few videos of people playing it and yes I think that some of the mods in that package do open up a lot of opportunities for teaching about sustainability, genetics, conservation, energy production/maintenance.

    As far as Planet to Discover, there is mathematical equations in the code that determine at what level and what density ores are created in the world, with computer craft you could sample 'chunks' of the world to try and determine the approximate quantities and depths of ores for natural resources.

    With the bees included you may be able to talk about evolution/mutations for the supporting life section.

    For the human part you could definitely use some of the advanced machines to create power plants (I know you can do nuclear power) and also do a fair bit in there about sustainable development and managing resources. With rail craft you could start talking about sustainability and the need to expand the transport systems throughout the 'city'

    For planet at risk I know there are natural disaster plugins (not included in FTB) I have never used them, I just know of them, and I would suggest that you definitely take a backup of the world prior to running anything like that as I have heard they are pretty disaster'ish.

    I will copy this reply over to the G+ community as well.

    1. Thanks Stephen. I am liking A Planet Organised by humans - with rail and power for Minecraft Projects. I am wondering if their comparative efficiency can be measured.

    2. Yes I think you can, I am pretty sure I have seen in FTB it tells you how energy efficient they are, as in how much energy they produce, and then you can compare these numbers with other items. Might I suggest you watch some of GenerikB when he does some power management on the MindCrack FTB server. I can try to find actual video links if you would like.

    3. Would love some video links! Is GenerikB on Youtube - I watched your Mathlandia there. Wonderful.

      Would the minecraft comparison be a valid one with real life energy systems? This is what I was thinking when I was reading this pdf: