A Journey Through Technology

Week 8: What Minecraft game could you create that would help students learn?

on July 8, 2016

This week we are looking at Minecraft and creating a game that could help my students learn. In chemistry, I find this a bit difficult. Chemistry is a lot of theoretical and abstract ideas that are hard to model or explain easily, especially for high school students. I have a bit of experience with Minecraft in a purely gaming environment. I find it very fun that it’s so open and you can do pretty much anything you can imagine. To start this week, I want to look at how Minecraft has affected education.

Lee Graham (2015) shares her experiences with using Minecraft in education as part of a graduate program with University of Alaska Southeast and 20 K-12 teachers across the country. “According to sixteen K-12 teacher responses at the end of the experience, 100% of the students who participated were “Highly Engaged”” (Graham, 2015) Getting students engaged in the classroom is one of the main goals of most teachers, so seeing 100% engagement is very encouraging. Another statistic that Graham shared was that “75% of respondents found the #givercraft unit More Effective or Much More Effective than a traditionally taught unit.”(Graham, 2015) I am always looking for more effective teaching strategies, so it is also encouraging that using Minecraft can increase the effectiveness of a unit.

In a webpage written by Dr. Wesley Fryer (n.d.), he describes an assignment for a STEM class where students have a 3-part engineering challenge. There are three levels to the challenge, and once students have completed each level, they are teleported to the next level. I could envision using something similar to this for my chemistry students, where they build various parts of atoms and once each is complete, they can move to the  next stage. I really don’t know how that would look yet, but since there are many parts of an atom, I could see it working something like Dr. Fryer’s assignment.

Lorch and Mills (2015) describe using Minecraft as being a “powerful educational tool.” “It allows young people to create and explore places that are completely inaccessible by other means.” Since a lot of chemistry is inaccessible by other means, Minecraft could be the perfect tool for exploring areas would normally be out of reach. Molcraft is a version of Minecraft that allows students to build and explore molecules.

“Imagine a science lesson where the class is let lose in Minecraft with instructions to find a set of objects hidden on key parts of molecules. Upon retrieving them the teacher will know which molecules each student has explored and what questions they may have answered to find the objects. All this time, the children think they have just been playing a game.” (Lorch & Mills, 2015)

Molcraft is free to download, and I will be exploring this more this summer and possibly using it in my classroom this coming school year. I will admit that before this week, I didn’t really see how I could use Minecraft in chemistry, but with some searching, I think that Molcraft is going to be the perfect solution for my chemistry classroom. “You can download the MolCraft and run it locally on your own machine, explore the world via our server, or use the schematics of the molecules to populate your own worlds with molecules.” (Lorch & Mills, 2016) I can only imagine the level of engagement I could achieve if my students think they are only playing a game, but they are actually learning about chemistry.

If I could create a Minecraft game for my classroom, it would probably be similar to the Molcraft game, however instead of allowing students to create proteins, they could represent basic chemical compounds, and even model a variety of chemical reactions. If students could actually see what happens in the chemical reactions, they might better understand the chemistry behind them. The five types of chemical reactions can be confusing for students, so if they could see the differences between them at a molecular level, maybe the confusion could disappear, or at least significantly decrease.

References

Fryer, W. (n.d.). MinecraftEDU Redstone Engineering Challenge – STEM Curriculum Resources by Dr. Wesley Fryer. Retrieved July 08, 2016, from http://stem.wesfryer.com/home/minecraft/redstone

Graham, L. (2015, January 26). Simply engaging and utterly consuming: #Givercraft 2014. Retrieved July 08, 2016, from http://mvlri.org/Blog/ID/77/Simply-Engaging-and-Utterly-Consuming-Givercraft-2014

Lorch, M., & Mills, J. (2015, October 29). How Minecraft could help teach chemistry’s building blocks of life. Retrieved July 08, 2016, from http://theconversation.com/how-minecraft-could-help-teach-chemistrys-building-blocks-of-life-49449

Lorch, M., & Mills, J. (2016, April 11). Science outreach and public engagement. Retrieved July 08, 2016, from http://www2.hull.ac.uk/science/scienceoutreach/MolCraft.aspx

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2 responses to “Week 8: What Minecraft game could you create that would help students learn?

  1. Engagement is huge! Good for you for searching out and finding MolCraft. I assume that is like Minecraft with an emphasis on molecules. I wonder how much time you would allot for your chemistry students to work on this. Chemistry is so challenging for many students, I imagine it would be encouraging to many of them, just to have a chance to explore the molecules on a screen.

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  2. unicyclepro says:

    Molcraft looks pretty awesome! I wonder if some mathematicians will try to incorporate something like it for advanced algebra, pre-calculus, trig, calculus, and statistics. It would be great for Minecraft to have some sort of calculation/computation ability in the game itself. Maybe it does. I need to play more. Don’t know if you realize it, but you need Minecraft in order for Molcraft to work. It looks like MinecraftEDU and probably Minecraft Education Edition will work. Remember, the new version is out in September and will cost between $1-5. Not bad. Get that with your Molcraft and you are off!

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