Video: Cookstown High boffins recreate their school in Minecraft

Cookstown High School students turned heads at Northern Ireland’s biggest science fair with a scale model of their school built in Minecraft.

The team spent eight weeks building the virtual replica in the popular 3D computer game, which they unveiled at The Sentinus Young Innovators Exhibition in June.

Coding club members present Cookstown HS, the Minecraft version

Coding club members present Cookstown HS, the Minecraft version

The annual science show celebrates the achievements of young people studying STEM subjects.

Now they plan to use it to give incoming first-years a feel for their new school, before they even start.

“It started off as a geography project where we used a qaudcopter to take pictures of the school,” explained coding club member, Arianna.

“That’s when we got Minecraft on the computers and we decided that we would try and build it.

They actually suggested putting virtual school teachers in some of the rooms - think extended school holidays - ICT teacher, Mr Johnston

“So we went out the first day and measured everything. When we first started off we had about six people - we now have a team of over 20.

“We’re going to use it for the first years, so instead of giving them a map, we will let them explore it using Minecraft.

“We got a mod [modification] so we could put in more computers and furniture and stuff,” added club member John.

When they took it to Sentinus he said they were surrounded by a crowd of primary school children.

Students learning to use their new Minecraft Edu software

Students learning to use their new Minecraft Edu software

“Minecraft’s very popular with younger kids,” he added.

Having had a tour of both the real school and the Minecraft version, the Mail was astonished at how precise the model was - right down to the books in the library.

The aim of the project was to further develop coding and problem solving skills at the school and build on the success of Davanav, the mobile app for cyclists using Davagh Forest.

The GTracks App development team invested over £300 in the purchase of MinecraftEdu - making the venture possible.

ICT Department head, Robert Johnston said he was a bit surprised at the student’s new idea for the virtual world.

“They actually suggested putting virtual school teachers in some of the rooms - think extended school holidays,” he said.

“They’re going to make an upgraded version of Mr Johnston.”

Since Cookstown High School students built their classrooms in the 3D game, Finance Minister Arlene Foster has also launched a Minecraft map of Northern Ireland.

Attractions such as the Giant’s Causeway and Marble Arch caves are included in the virtual world, which was developed using Land & Property Service’s ordnance survey digital mapping data.

Minister Foster said: “This exciting new development will allow people here to play the game across all of NI, in places that are familiar to them.”

Minecraft NI contains more than five billion blocks.