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A student's products in game-based learning

Written by Chad Sansing
May 13, 2011

Our school recently held its second annual Expo Night, and Brendan came through with a finished Parthenon model, Expo Board, and essay reflecting on the work.

I wanted to share some of his work with you here as a follow up to “A student voice in games-based learning.”

Here is Brendan’s display – we can use it as a kind of map of his learning.

Brendan's display board

Brendan presented his Pathenon model on the laptop in the middle of his display space. You can read about how he built it below – in Brendan’s own words. His essay is in the upper-middle portion of the expo board, as well as at the end of this post.

To compare and contrast Brendan’s work with the visual references he collected, take a look at these pictures, which he printed for display on the sides of his board.

Here’s is a picture of the Parthenon’s floor plan that Brendan used as part of his planning.

Parthenon floor plan

Here is a screen shot of his Parthenon model’s floor plan taken from the Minecraft mod MCEdit.

Brendan's Parthenon floor plan

Here is a picture of the Nashville Parthenon that Brendan used as inspiration.

The Nashville Parthenon exterior

Here is a screen shot of the exterior of Brendan’s Parthenon.

Brendan's Parthenon exterior

Here is an internal shot of the Nashville Parthenon that Brendan used as the basis for his work.

The Nashville Parthenon interior

Here is the interior of Brendan’s Parthenon with a nod to the Minecraft community.

Brendan's Parthenon interior

There’s a lot of mental space and time that has to be made for in-depth projects like this, as well as for game-based learning, in public schools. Those of us in the system tend to rush things, and we ask kids to do the same. We tend to reward kids who learn the most superficial information the most quickly. It was a challenge for both Brendan and me to see the project through, but I’m glad we did. Composition and design relate so well to writing, and passion relates so well to achievement. I’m positive that if I had short-circuited the long-term, iterative process we co-created in completing the project, I would have limited Brendan’s learning and damaged our relationship, as well. By taking our time – over four weeks of it at two hours a day – we wound up with an amazing virtual artifact, a new understanding of hacking and modding games to learn, and an essay Brendan revised 5 times.

To give Brendan the last word:

The Parthenon is a Greek temple built for Athena. It is important to Western culture because it shows what the Greeks worshiped and believed in. Today myths still show up in our lives, for example people still mentor others like when Athena mentored Telemachus and trained him to be a man.

The Parthenon is my best project of the year because it shows quality work. I put my full effort into it for 3 months straight. Another reason I chose it was because I have always loved Minecraft. My Parthenon is a 1 foot to 1 block ratio. I chose to build it because I have always liked Greek mythology. In the end it turned out well because I was invested in it.

I made my Parthenon by using Minecraft and MCedit. The way they work is pretty simple. Minecraft is the base program and MCedit is an add on. Minecraft is really fun to play by its self but with MCedit you can get huge projects done faster. When you’re in Minecraft you can build block by block which can take a while however with MCedit you can build large sections of land with one click. However when you use MCedit you can’t really build detailed stuff, so what you do is build one part of the building in Minecraft and then copy and paste it together with MCedit.

Quality work is following your plan and putting your full effort into it. The way I work in class is I put my full effort into something until I finish it. Sometimes this can be bad because I get so involved in things I can’t stop. The way I fixed it was to switch stations daily or monthly instead of every 30 minutes. This lets me finish one project before I started working on another one, which I like.

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