The fifth and sixth class pupils at Milltown NS who worked on the ‘Ireland’s Future is Mine’ Minecraft Education Competition.

Over the last three months pupils from Milltown National School have been working on the ‘Ireland’s Future is Mine’ Minecraft Education Competition.

Minecraft Education is a computer software game that encourages pupils to use their creative, problem solving and communication skills in order to create their own virtual worlds.

Six pupils from fifth and sixth class in Milltown school took on the challenge of creating a sustainable virtual world using Minecraft Education.

The six pupils, Seán, Uzma, David, Andina, Sarah and Murray, came up with the wonderful idea of creating ‘Mullingar’s Sustainable Square’, and here they discuss their unique online creation.

Question: Why did you get involved in the ‘Ireland’s future is Mine’ competition?

Andina: I decided to take on this challenge as I really enjoy using Minecraft Education; it is so much fun. With Minecraft I can create my very own world.

David: I got involved as I also like the fun aspect of Minecraft and building my own creations. I also like working with my friends on projects and helping them to learn too.

Question: What was the competition challenge and what specific theme did you choose?

Seán: The challenge was to create a sustainable world using Minecraft Education. We put our heads together and discussed what sustainability actually meant for us. And for us, it meant building a world where renewable energy was to the fore, a world where our carbon footprint would be small or even obsolete; a world that cared for our environment; a world that we could all be proud to live in.

Sarah: The next step in the process for us was to choose a theme and title for our project. We decided to create a new district of Mullingar and call it ‘Mullingar’s Sustainable Square’. We set about planning and designing our new district using good old pen and paper. We had many versions of our district until we finally narrowed it down to a design that everyone was happy with.

Question: How did you go about creating ‘Mullingar’s Sustainable Square’?

Uzma: Once we had decided on the design, it was time to get creating and building in the virtual Minecraft Education world. Each member of the team took on the building of an area of the square.

David designed the park, where lots of trees and flowers were planted, to help the oxygen levels of the district.

Andina created the school, which had a rooftop garden and solar panels to power it. I built the main Mullingar Plaza, which had solar panels on shop fronts and lots of trees throughout.

I also developed the greenhouse, where once again plants and flowers were grown using rain water as a renewable source of hydration for the flowers.

Seán built houses that were solar powered and did not have chimneys, as fires are not environmentally friendly.

Murray helped with the oversight of all the buildings.

Finally, Sarah created the forest and farm which further enhanced the sustainability of our virtual world.

Question: What was your favourite part of this whole project?

Sean and David: Both of us learned how to write software code. This meant that we could build and create buildings much faster in our world. Knowing how to code will be a great advantage to us as we go into secondary school.

Murray: I really enjoyed spending time with my friends, collaborating with them and creating a new virtual world. It was really cool!

Andina: I built and created things that I never thought that I would ever do. I also loved having fun and learning with my friends.

Sarah: I loved collaborating with my friends in a fun environment. All of us worked so well together.

Uzma: My favourite part was organising the daily building sessions as break time. I enjoyed the challenges of organising all our team members so that we could maximise our time and getting our project completed on time. I hope Westmeath County Council take note of some of our ideas and designs!

Principal of Milltown National School, John Gordon, praised the students: “All six of these pupils learned so much about themselves and each other, during the completion of this project,” he said.

“I was amazed at how the pupils moved through the various stages of development of a project like this, from initially brainstorming ideas, putting a plan down creating their online world, editing their work and finally submitting their project.

“From a curricular point of view, their science, technology, engineering and maths skills have also been undoubtedly enhanced.

“As we all know climate change is one of the big issues of our time – however, the ingenious sustainable and renewable creations that these pupils came up with signify that the world will be able to overcome the climate change issue, due to the creativity of our young people, as demonstrated by the pupils of Milltown National School.”

Without doubt, the future of our planet is in safe hands as evident by the wonderful collaboration, teamwork and ingenuity of the pupils of Milltown.

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