Apr 232015

As highlighted in this post, classroom applications for Minecraft are virtually limitless. In this particular engagement, grade 4 students used Minecraft to explore the connection between the width, height and depth of a regular shape and the number of blocks it was constructed from.

After watching the video below, their task was to;

  1. Construct several regular shapes using any number of blocks they wished.
  2. Record the width, height, length and number of blocks used to build each shape on a sign.
  3. Find a connection between the measurements and the blocks
  4. Express the connection as a formulae or rule
    (eg. W + H + L = B)
  5. Test their formulae at least 3 times using different sized shapes.
  6. Create a screen cast using Quicktime proving their formulae to be correct.

Here is a student’s response used with her permission. She is in Grade 4 and has done an amazing job! If you would like to leave a comment on her blog, I am sure she would appreciate it.

What went well: 

  • Students were highly engaged (Duh, it’s Minecraft! Go figure!)
  • Students could easily create different shapes to test ideas or gather data
  • Using the signs to record measurements and theories was handy
  • Each Minecraft block is 1 cubic meter, so even thought they’re virtual, this somehow made it easier for the students to grasp the idea of volume than using cubic centimeter manipulatives.

What we should have done differently:

  • These students hadn’t done much with finding rules, so many struggled as they didn’t understand what a rule was. To rectify this, we wrote “W ? H ? L = B on the whiteboard to give them a clue. Many still struggled, so we then had them replace the W,H and L with actual measurements from one of their shapes for example “2 ? 2 ? 4 = 16 and most were then successful.
  • Had math books out so they could write down their measurements to look for patterns.
  • Many students would always have height, or length or width as “1” meaning that they were finding rules that would only work when this was the case.

What we did do differently (for the 4th time I did the lesson:)

  • Practiced finding rules using simple patterns like A+B=C before starting.
  • Students drew W H L = B tables on their whiteboard tables and wrote in a series of measurements (see image). They then built in Minecraft using these measurements and counted the blocks to fill in the “B” column

Please leave a comment if you have any questions or other cool ways to use Minecraft.

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