Wednesday, 30 April 2014

Another Storyline?

I am still in the deep planning stage of the measurement map I want to do in about a week (how unlike me to leave things until the last minute). It turns out that I may be able to have a few hours in this map to help the students review their learning of the measurement topic, which is awesome, because it means I can perhaps get another storyline happening. Kind of like Gravity Lab merged with Path to Percentage Perfection.

So what is the new plan with this map? To review everything we have learnt throughout this topic. A pretty large aim, but I honestly think it is doable. I have added a few mods to give me access to more paintings in-game, as well as a few other items that will be useful. Which means that this will be the first 'heavily' modded map I have made, as in the first that really relies on mods to be successful.

I have made a custom biome/map using WorldPainter, here is what it looks like so far.

It is really going to be interesting to bring my build to life in this map. Basically the students will be going through an 'on the rails' type path, like Percentage Perfection, and will be journalling their review of the topic as they go. The end result however, will be that the students will get their in-game journal printed out for them, which they will then be able to take into their final test for this topic, hopefully stuck in their summary book.

The storyline is 'brewing' slowly, I have some ideas, vague and incoherent, but ideas none the less, that I think could make an interesting story line, and if these students get involved in the story (unlike my Pre-CAL class, and more like the original Gravity Lab group) I think it will be a pretty engaging task for them.

There are a few other reasons I really want this map to shine, the main one being I have not made a really cool map in a very long time with all the other things going on in my life in recent months. I would also really like to share this map with the community as a complete, standalone map, unlike many of my others which are not complete or not fully standalone.

The other major reason is that we (the Math faculty) are going to be showcasing our use of MinecraftEdu in our classes at a parent information night next week, and having a student engaged, learning and able to articulate their learning for the demonstration will go a long way (hopefully) in getting me a bit more flexibility to bring MinecraftEdu back into my classes a bit more and also bring some more students into the school.

Thursday, 24 April 2014

Warm and Fuzzy.

This might sound very silly, and has nothing to do with MinecraftEdu but I just had to share something right now. It is nearing 9pm here on a Thursday night before a holiday Friday. Today I finished 3d printing the last pieces for a student project, and jokingly told the student that it was to be put together and I was to be sent photos before now. About 30 minutes ago I got my email and pictures. I will share them right here:

Email Subject: I made it on time
Email contents:

This is a clock, designed from scratch by a student at my school but not as part of any class. So this has all been done outside of class time. This project started close to 7 months ago. The student in question is a very bright young man, and was involved in a project based learning environment with the rest of his year level. I had been trying to get him to design something, anything, for the whole year, finally he decided he would like to design a clock.

GREAT!!! Here is a broken clock, pull it apart, figure out how it works and then design one. The first iteration of the gears was not quite up to scratch, the teeth of the gears would not mesh consistently or smoothly enough from the large to the smaller gears. With that taste of a challenge the student went home and did a bit of a google search, found the information he needed and redesigned all of the gears overnight. I was absolutely blown away by how well the second set of gears I printed meshed together. So I set about printing all the parts he required and today the final pieces were finally printed, there was a long delay due to the summer break and his computer having some issues.

So why do I feel all warm and fuzzy? This student has just taken something from his head, onto the computer, and then had it printed in real life. Now that is a feat, but to have what you can see in those images, for him, has got to be a pretty amazing feeling. I know I felt like I could conquer the world when my designs were finally complete, from the DNA model to the Periodic Table and those that I have partially completed since. It is a very interesting feeling to have something you created from scratch in your possession, something that came out of your head and is now in your hand.

This student has just been exposed to this same feeling, and I hope it is like a drug for him. His first design project was this, his second is to either alter the train set I designed for my daughter so that we can have an engine that is remote controlled from an old toy helicopter and its parts, or to design a remote control car from those same parts or to do something else that he is more interested in. I hope that the feeling he has right now, looking at his almost complete clock, drives him to continue designing contraptions that I will readily print 2 copies of, 1 for him and 1 for the school.

So where to from here? Once this model is completed and is working as intended we will sit down and work out an 'educational' version of this clock, where the hands, and all gears associated with those hands will be printed in a different colour, what a way to teach about gearing and ratios. I would also like to see him offer the design on the web, and if he is feeling entrepreneurial, selling the clock online, either the plain, or educational version.

OK enough babbling, thanks for reading and feel free to leave a comment below.

Tuesday, 22 April 2014

Finally Reconnecting With the World.

I have been awfully quiet so far this year, I am very limited in my MinecraftEdu class time this year, much more so than last year. The main reason I have been out of action though, in terms of my blog, is because I have been disconnected from the digital world at home for nearly 5 weeks. So for about 2 weeks prior to heading to Austin for sxswedu until a few weeks ago I had no internet, or very limited internet, at the places I have been living.

I am finally moved into my new house, still a lot of boxes to unpack, painting and general maintenance things to be done, but the internet was finally connected properly a couple of weeks ago. So I am finally feeling reconnected with the world. It was an interesting experience having to disconnect when I left work every day and not having access at nights or on the weekend. You would think this would mean I would have a whole heap of time to make maps….. but unfortunately this has not been the case. The new house has required a bit of rearranging of walls, trees and taps, which has been enough to keep me extremely busy when I get home.

Now that I am connected again, I have just had 2 weeks holidays from teaching. I have a plan for a lesson soon… I always have a plan. I am going to 'merge' the 2nd and 3rd quests from Mathlandia last year into one map, and by merge I mean I am going to 'throw' those maps out the window and start fresh with a blend of adventure and quest based map activities. I will include building activities and also a few ECAAS (those question things in the Path to Percentage Perfection) where students can explore and consolidate their understanding of area, perimeter, surface area and volume of the various shapes we have talked about and also show their understanding.

I had a great idea for getting students to explore the area of a circle, including mechanics to get the students to estimate the area, receive the number of blocks they estimate, fill in the circle and report back on how accurate their estimate was and then get points based on how accurate their estimate was that they could put towards a prize at the end of the task. Now while I think this is an amazing idea, and will probably build the mechanics just to prove to myself that I can do what I thought I could, I think it will take too much of the limited time I have to incorporate MinecraftEdu into my class this year to complete the activity in class.

So why spend the time building it? I think the mechanics might be useful for other things too, especially the teleport mechanics that determines the station to teleport students to based on which ones are available. I might also set it as a homework task for students who are interested, based in vanilla Minecraft rather than MinecraftEdu of course. I cannot wait until my new study is complete and I can get really stuck back into the 3d printing and map making that I am really beginning to miss now.

That is really all I have for now, I will hopefully do some more posting as the new map comes along and give updates on the progress of the building. Thanks for reading and feel free to leave a comment below.