Friday, February 28, 2014

Computers Galore

The video game programmer club is a group of talented students. They now know basic logic and construction of video games, so the next logical step in our Minecraft journey was to experiment with the ComputerCraft mod this week.  I loaded it on the computers and they noticed it right away.   They were given 20 minutes to create a simple shelter. Then, armed with my own computer science background and some great tutorial videos of ComputerCraft, the kids learned a bit about early computer operation, good old DOS, and how to craft computers, disk drives, and diskettes.  You could feel the excitement in the room.  The task was to create the famous "Hello World" program as all good programmers do for their first task in a language.  They finished and some went on to modify the startup program to specify a welcome message when the computer booted up.  Not bad for an hour of work.  

Thursday, February 20, 2014


The build on the school is well underway and floor 1 is complete. 

Some broke into another team to build a welcome center.  The welcome center is similar to the tutorial where kids will learn to navigate through MC. They learn to swim in a nearby pool.

And I like that they want to add public transportation!  They have added a rail line between the welcome center and the school.

Project number 2 is from our first brave teacher.  The digestive system project is being crafted by a team of 4 hard-working young men. They are spending extra hours on this project.  

They are creating a scavenger hunt tour where students will have to find parts in the world that are either missing or in the wrong place of the system.   The rest of the students will 'play' their creation along with reflecting on the process - if they make it past the chomping teeth.

Friday, February 14, 2014

It's Beginning to be Digested

One of the 7th grade science teachers (Mrs. Arcaya) and I are embarking on a project with her classes. They are about to start a unit on the digestive system.  We brainstormed what would be best to do with Minecraft for a limited number of class periods, and we finally decided to let small groups build their own.  They are reflecting this weekend and coming up with ideas on how to model it.  Then at lunch, some kids came in from a morning class ready to start on the project that doesn't start until the end of March.  I have a feeling the lab is going to be busy during advisory, lunch, and anytime else they can squeeze in. It almost brings tears to my eyes when students are this excited about doing school work.  I'll keep you informed.

Thursday, February 13, 2014

Load Testing 2

The past few days have been very insightful.  Yesterday one of the math teachers brought in classes to see how many students we could put on the system.  We had 23 people on Tutorial World and had no issues with playing.   Our goal is 32 people.  Not only was the testing successful, but the reaction of the students to using Minecraft in the classroom were exciting. Some had never played before, so using the tutorial turned out to be a wise decision.

Day 2 - One brave advisory class came in to test.  Two classes were supposed to come so we could fill the room, but that didn't happen this time.  This turned out to be a stress-test on the server.  I opened them to creative mode and little by little turned on every feature.  We were totally pegging the system with survival mode on and the system was complaining.  It didn't lag during play though.  It may be time to move to the virtual server.  With upcoming projects to build, we will need power for everyone to complete their projects.

The last test has been a full load - 32 in creative mode on a random seed - "Texas".  We only made it to 22.  The rest could not connect.  Now it's time for a bigger server.

For all classes involved, there was a resounding "When can we come back? During advisory?  Can we stay for lunch?  How about after school? This was fun!".  They were already talking about ways to use it for projects.  That's what I call successful.

Sunday, February 2, 2014


Students had been asking all week when they could get started on creating their virtual school. We attempted that Friday.  Sixteen eager students entered a flat world and decided who would build which part of the building.  They recorded everything in a Google document to be shared and decided on measurements for the building.  Since we had some visitors who specifically came to see this new phenomena, we wanted to show how they could build.  All in all it went pretty well.

I learned several things - create a behavior contract for the students. One student made potions, became invisible and started griefing (destroying the other player's works). (I did not even know you could become invisible!) Conversations were had and that stopped, but I want to make a formal declaration of the rules and consequences and have them sign it.  Second lesson - probably best to have a planned world to demo. 

Now on to other things.  One of the seventh grade science teachers and I are brainstorming how to use MC for the digestive system.  There are several videos of such projects online and I have downloaded one digestive tract world from Planet Minecraft. The question is - have each student or pairs of students each create a digestive system or have one they just go through? We will be discussing intent of the lesson and the amount of time to be allocated, as well as pros and cons of each method. (I don't want to see anyone's projects destroyed.) Also next week is a load test - we are bringing in several math classes to test how many people we can get onto our little server.  We are planning to create something similar to decimal island for the kids to try.

On a personal note, I have learned how to install mods and where to get them.  The wiki seems to be the go to place. I tried a commercial site the kids told me about and along came other ad programs.