In ninth grade, I began work on a Minecraft educational platform called MinecraftK12 as part of a team with my friend, Kevin Thorne. The purpose of MinecraftK12 was to provide the tools and support needed for Minecraft to be used in an educational environment, allowing it to be integrated into the lesson plans of teachers of various subject areas. MinecraftK12 was quickly adopted by my ninth grade technology teacher, who used it in his classroom for multiple years. I personally used the platform while teaching a Utah 4-H after-school club. Additionally, I submitted the platform into the Central Utah Science and Engineering Fair, where it won multiple awards.
The teacher’s control panel, called the Server Manager, included many helpful features to aide the teaching process. For example, an included world template system allowed teachers to create and share worlds which could be re-used in many different lessons. These templates could be used to quickly generate new servers so that the teachers could focus on teaching rather than building. On the main screen of the Server Manager was a list of all of the available servers, and with a single click of a button, any server could be immediately launched. Once the server was launched, the teacher was presented with a new control panel allowing them to monitor their server’s performance, logs, and chats. The teacher could see which students were connected, and could perform actions on the students, such as muting them, freezing them, or moving them to the teacher’s character.
The MinecraftK12 game client was a modified Minecraft game client with multiple new and innovative features that made using Minecraft in the classroom a whole lot easier. When students wanted to join a MinecraftK12 session, upon startup, they would click on a new button called “The Mine” at the bottom of the screen. This section of the game client automatically and instantaneously discovered running MinecraftK12 sessions anywhere on the network; no more confusing IP addresses! The students were then brought to a login page where they could register and design their own player, with lots of fun player skins to choose from. Once registered, students proceeded to login to the game using a player with their own name on it. All of the logged in players could easily be controlled from the Server Manager. Teachers were given custom player skins that stood out from the students, and were given unique names, like “Mr. Mineer.”
MinecraftK12 won multiple awards at the Central Utah Science and Engineering Fair. It was well-received and was very popular among kids and parents. People lined up with many questions and enthusiastic comments about the project. It was a truly rewarding experience to inspire and excite so many people.