Virtual tools and materials are replacing picks and shovels as young techies help bring the Anzac story to life through a computer game.
Students from Alfriston College are part of a year-long project with the Auckland Museum and the Media Design School to recreate 1915 Gallipoli using Minecraft, an award-winning game that allows users to create virtual worlds by placing and removing blocks.
The school's digital and technology learning leader Mark Sutherland says the students recreated their school through Minecraft last year.
The museum contacted the school, asking how it came up with the virtual world and inviting it to help with the initial build of a virtual Gallipoli. A huge challenge was getting all the details historically correct - from where the fighting took place to the physical aspects of the landscape, Sutherland says.
The aim is to develop key landing areas from Anzac Cove through to Razor's Edge, including boats, large artillery, dugouts and trenches.
The project is due to finish around the Anzac Day centenary commemorations in 2015.
Research was a big part of the project for the team creating the virtual world.
"It really got them engaged in learning the historical side of Gallipoli," Sutherland says.
Students also learnt about measurements, angles, geography and design.
Being able to work together in a team was also a big learning curve.
"A lot of the students are used to being by themselves. But you can't just put a block down and expect it to work with someone else's," Sutherland says.
Student Jacob Ward, 16, says team work was the hardest thing because of everyone's creativity. "It was hard work in groups because you had so many different talents," he says.
But it was worth it because of all they got to learn and being able to use a tool they're familiar with, he says.
"Minecraft is more hands-on and there's so many things you can do with it," Jacob says.
Museum school programmer Wendy Burne says the project helps students better understand a part of history that happened almost 100 years ago.
"Minecraft is a wonderful way to engage students with a period of history which they may feel removed from," she says.
The virtual Gallipoli has been exported on to a public server, where challenges will be revealed throughout the year, allowing people around the world to explore and contribute to the build.
An education version will also be developed for use in classrooms around New Zealand.
Go to pickandshovel.net/ww1/ for more information.
- Papakura Courier
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