Inspired by a project initiated by students at MIT, Cambridge, Penn, and elsewhere, Wiley Johnson '18 and his friend, Ben Mulligan, have been helping Country School students build a digital replica of the Country School campus using Minecraft. The popular after-school offering has allowed participants to connect and collaborate together. And who knows? Maybe they'll even come up with some cool new campus enhancement opportunities for their school.
Wiley (right, working on the project) and Ben, schoolmates at Hopkins in New Haven, collaborated last summer to teach robotics camp at the Country School's Summer Fun and Learning program. After the arrival of COVID-19 and the subsequent shift to distance learning at Hopkins, they began spending some of their out-of-school hours building the Country School campus in Minecraft. They pitched their idea for an after-school program to teachers at school, and for the last several weeks, an avid crew of 2nd-8th Graders have been joining them virtually a few afternoons a week to recreate campus.
An early rendition.
A more recent rendition.
The inspiration for the after-school activity came from similar efforts at MIT, Cambridge and other universities. For instance, as reported in a Business Insider story:
The coronavirus ended their semester early, but MIT being MIT, students knew they could figure out some kind of technical workaround.
A group of MIT students built a server in "Minecraft," where they've been building the campus in stunning detail, working on recreating places that are especially meaningful to them. The project follows other schools like UPenn and Brown, who have similar virtual campuses in the works.
This particular after-school, campus-centric gathering may have another added plus. According to a recent piece on NPR, Minecraft may help kids learn to code (click here).
Thanks, Wiley and Ben, for giving this opportunity to our students. You've come up with a great way for students to come together virtually, to collaborate, and to create. Not to mention some of the exciting design ideas that may have been spawned. Check them out:
The Dining Room.