Pupils re-create historic buildings using Minecraft

A globally popular video game is taking on a local look as school children use it to create a virtual replica of Dunedin.

Computer company Cyclone was organising the Minecraft-based project with support from Microsoft, and was at Musselburgh School on Thursday to get pupils under way.

Cyclone professional learning development facilitator Anthony Breese said a Minecraft world had been built using the topography of Dunedin.

Pupils were creating the city’s historic buildings using virtual three-dimensional building blocks, and researching information about the history of the buildings to include in the project.

“They have to find out, for example, the building materials they might have used, they have to find out who built it, whether there was any Maori connection … and then build that space inside Minecraft.”

Maths skills were used as pupils calculated what size the buildings should be — for every metre, there were two blocks, he said.

They also had to look at the intricate features of each building, and choose what blocks they would use to recreate that look.

“There’s a lot of problem solving.”

At the end of the project, there would be a “whole lot” of buildings creating a virtual city, and it would be accessible on the Microsoft Minecraft Education website.

It would be accessible to other schools throughout the country, and even the world.

“Really, we’re creating a place that kids can go and research their local New Zealand histories,” he said.

He hoped to expand the project by bringing more schools on board, not only in Dunedin but also in Oamaru and Invercargill.

Pupil Ivy Young was part of a team of Musselburgh School pupils who were going to be researching and making a copy of Dunedin Prison.

She enjoyed playing Minecraft, although she had not expected to get to play it for school.

“It’s fun and creative and it’s like building in real life,” she said.


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