2015 Press Releases

Boole World domination for Minecraft

28 Oct 2015
Screenshot of UCC's Boole World, which will showcase examples of Boolean logic on Minecraft.

University College Cork is building a virtual Boole World based on its iconic Quad for the smash hit video game Minecraft.

Accessing Minecraft’s Boole World will position players in the centre of the Quad at UCC, from where all three wings of the building are ready to be explored.

The construction of the Boole World is being supported by Microsoft Ireland. On the launch of the Boole World, Stephen Howell, Academic Engagement Manager at Microsoft Ireland said “Microsoft Ireland is delighted to support this highly innovative, education project from UCC”.

Millions of children are playing Minecraft at home, whether on computers, consoles or mobile devices, with increasing numbers of classrooms worldwide using the game as an instruction tool. 

“When the Boole World has been fully developed we expect that up to 100 users will be able to enter it at any one time,” said Patrick Fitzpatrick, Emeritus Professor of Mathematics at UCC.

The Boole World will showcase examples of Boolean logic on Minecraft and is set to prove a valuable resource among teachers signed up for the UCC Brings Boole2School initiative on November 2, the bicentenary of the birth of George Boole, first Professor of Mathematics at UCC.

More than 55,000 school students in over 30 countries across the globe are already signed up to take the lessons. The 3D puzzles to be found inside UCC’s Minecraft world are based on the lesson plans developed by Maths Circles Ireland for Boole2School.

A student entering the North Wing through the arch, for example, will find themselves at the start of a "logic route", showcasing examples of simple ON/OFF logic, and eventually moving to more complex AND, OR and NOT logic.

According to Aaron Bolger, a PhD candidate at UCC’s Department of Applied Psychology, who is the architect of the Boole World, the route is designed based on the same principles that are used in successful puzzle games such as Lemmings and Portal.

“Each piece of logic has a demonstrated example, which the student learns by pulling switches in order to cause a light to turn on. This example is then followed by a short puzzle that can be solved by applying the same logic that was just demonstrated.”

The next example then builds on this, presenting a more advanced concept to the student by building on the knowledge they have just gained, he explains. “This culminates in a larger puzzle at the end of the route that the student must solve in order to leave, reminiscent of the British TV game show The Crystal Maze.”

Unlike The Crystal Maze, however, “In Boole World the student has the facility to teleport back outside the Quad, should they be unable to complete the puzzle,” he continues. “They can also then return to the area demonstrating the logic they may have found themselves stuck on, and retry the puzzle later.”

“Once a puzzle has been solved, the inner workings of the puzzle are left exposed to the student. This way, they don't just solve it and move on; they also get the opportunity to get inside and see how it's done. This helps with tying the solution to the logic, and the construction of that logic inside Minecraft.”

The Boole World has been trialled at Microsoft Ireland’s HQ in Sandyford, Dublin, with a group of students from St Buites NS, Dunleer; Gaelscoil Lorgan, Castleblaney; St Aidan’s Comprehensive School, Cootehill; Virginia College, Cavan and St Benildus College, Kilmacud. As dedicated Minecrafters, the students were keen to explore the Boole World and when asked if they learned from the experience, the answer was a resounding “Yes.”

There will be Boole2School lessons, both in English and Irish, taking place in the Quad on campus at UCC on George Boole Day, November 2. 

University College Cork

Coláiste na hOllscoile Corcaigh

College Road, Cork T12 K8AF