“Of course, there’s a relationship,” a DCD 4th grader would say!” The curriculum in 4th grade involves the study of Medieval times, a theme that enriches assignments in math, writing, and research. In one project, students are charged with securing land from the king and queen by writing a letter explaining their plans and strategy for their fiefs and castles. Once they are granted their land, students must then design castles creating blueprints with realistic measurements.
In previous years, these blueprints were 2D, but this year, working with our new head of academic technology Kate Reardon, students used the education version of Minecraft to bring this made-up kingdom to life. In this digital world, each student was given specific coordinates for their piece of land. Though each student was responsible for the design and architecture of their own castle, there was much collaboration. Working from their blueprints, students had to translate the 2D measurements they had on paper to a realistic 3D rendition in Minecraft.
This project involved design thinking, math, and research. Students had to ask, What qualities does a castle from the Middle Ages have? What are the important rooms, and what are realistic sizes for these rooms? How do inhabitants move from room to room, via doors or hallways? Can the 2D design they created using a ruler and graph paper be scaled up to a 3D model? Students also had to reconcile their desire for certain cool features available in the Minecraft program with what they knew to be true about the Middle Ages.