Friday, 7 July 2017

Factorio Day 4

I realised today, writing that previous blog post, just how much I miss trying new things in a classroom. Pushing my own limits in terms of what I do in my classroom is something I hadn't realised I had missed this much. Being in a room, feeling the passion and enjoyment that students (and I) have in these lessons/projects, the underlying tension I feel when I have no idea how what I have planned is actually going to play out.

Anyway, enough of that, how did today go? It was yet again a very interesting experience, I did manage to convert the multiplayer map into a 'creative' single player map for students to try and 'fix' or improve something in the factory we are currently working within, and I think that was a really fantastic choice, and I wish I had started that earlier in the week. It is something I will be repeating tomorrow, as I really feel that allowed the students to safely explore options for incorporation into the group factory.

After they worked on their improvement, I did a quick tour around the room checking what people had built, and then started 'grouping' people together that had worked on the same production. That worked very well also, as students already had ideas about what they wanted to build, so were more readily able to discuss and defend what they wanted to build.

Having learned a whole heap of new commands and manipulations of the Factorio world, we took the last 25 minutes of todays session to see what happens when the aliens attack. We are definitely not going to achieve the nuke by the end of tomorrow, today we basically started automating the third science pack, we need around 6000 more of the first 6 tiers of science packs to even get close. The students were so excited when I said to them, "I am standing in the middle of an alien base, you have 2 minutes to prepare, as I think my finger is going to slip onto the shoot button."

I manipulated the aliens, so that they were the hardest they get and let them go. It was utter chaos, and not the 'great' chaos I have mentioned in earlier posts, this was utter chaos. Students were having an absolute ball as they ran around trying, ineffectively of course, to defend themselves and the base. I do think however that I have more to learn about the mechanics of the game to make that scenario work better, and I think there is value in putting students through a 'defensive' scenario once they are comfortable with the game.

After about 10 minutes of students running around in the game, getting killed by aliens, some students were suggesting a concerted strategy instead of running around like lunatics, which I was very pleased about. They were also looking at what basic resources they needed to build both defences and offensive weapons. So I think, with some more planning, it could be a very powerful lesson in the future, not that the time spent in doing that today wasn't worthwhile, but I wasn't sure it was going to be at the beginning, and it was not the focus of todays session. What I am trying to say is, that in future I think that 'scenario' could be a whole session, instead of just a 'timeout' to give the students a break.

I have promised them that tomorrow, before the end of the session, I will put them all in creative on the server and they can go nuke the aliens, but tomorrows focus will actually be getting more raw resources into our factory, scaling up the third tier science packs or working towards the fourth tier science packs. I think I will suggest that students pick one of those options and work towards it in the first part of the session, in the single player copy, and then they can work as a team towards it once we start up the multiplayer server again.

I am certainly pleased with how the project has gone, and feel that I can say that my original learning outcomes have been met, however I am concerned that the parents will not see exactly what the students have achieved in the time they have spent in this workshop. I don't quite know how to clearly explain that, as a team, your child has created everything you see before you from nothing, and not only have they created it, they have researched and prototyped their designs before creating what you see before you. While doing this they have demonstrated a load of skills, leadership, communication, planning and collaboration are just a few. They now have a good understanding of how supply chains can be affected by not enough materials coming in, or by those materials being sidetracked and used to create other things.

Having written that, it does sound pretty good, but will the parents believe me? Will they truly understand? I hope so, and I also hope that the students will be able to clearly explain and show their parents what part(s) of the factory they had the biggest impact on, and how that ties into the rest of the factory and supports other students parts of the factory. I wonder whether a printed overall map of the base might be something worth having... hmmmm, will think on that one!

Given that the students took screenshots of their chosen area of the factory before and after their build today, and wrote what they did, I am thinking I might also combine these together into a powerpoint with the students images, name and text to show the impact that students had today also. Since we will be doing the same tomorrow, it would be good to put them in as well. I am not sure I will have time to do it, with tomorrows images, and it is already after 11pm here at the moment, but if the students work well in the group factory tomorrow I may be able to incorporate tomorrows images.

Ok, enough ranting, I feel like I have written more this week than I have for about the last 2 years, and honestly I probably have! It is great to have something interesting to share and reflect upon. As always, thanks for reading and feel free to leave any comments down below.


  1. Bravo to you for creating a wonderful learning environment for your students! My only suggestion is in reply to your wondering how to get parents to appreciate what the students have done. Film the process and then show some of that to the parents. Of course, if you're like me, you get so involved in the learning that you forget to film things. But that might work for you! Keep up the great work!

    1. Thanks for the suggestion Bob, turns out I was worrying unnecessarily, I took screenshots of the daily maps I had kept, and got the students to explain to their parents what they created and how it applied to the rest of the factory. It was useful to have the maps on the wall to refer to, but the students definitely preferred to show their parents in the game. I think for my own reflections that I will also be going through the daily maps and recording what the students created and uploading to YouTube with a reflective commentary from me.