When I first posted about Minecraft at the Museum (see: The 1st Month of Minecraft at the Museum: Geology, Sustainability, & Dinosaurs) we were just underway, while in November (see: The 2nd Month of Minecraft at the Museum: Poison, Food, Biomes, and More) we continued the format – comparing science in Minecraft with science in the real world – and began the early steps of the teens working to create their own Minecraft science learning experiences. As December began, led by Rebecca Saunders and Teacher Gaming’s Joel Levin (with E-Line Media’s Katya Hott), along with AMNH’s Nathan Bellomy, our third month focused on the youth working in small teams for longer periods of time focusing on science topics of their own choosing (paleontology, anthropology and biology).
The first of three groups spent three sessions building what they titled the Minecraft Museum for Cretaceous Ocean Life. Learn more about it through the “commercial” they made for it below:
“Put down your pickax and come on down to the Minecraft Museum for Cretaceous Ocean Life!” Who could resist such a pitch? Unfortunately, like the dinosaurs, their map went extinct, leaving behind no trace. We still don’t understand what happened to it, so, alas, all that remains is this lovely commercial (we will now begin a redundant back-up system after each session; live and learn…)
Luckily, the other groups managed to avoid such an inglorious fate. The commercial below, inspired by a book on Vikings that happened to be in one of the teen’s backpacks, is given the hard sell, info-commercial style:
“Education. Vikings. With Minecraft. You want it?” Yes, I just might. Daniel, below, takes us on a tour of their Viking village, the unfortunate town they pillage, and two realms of the Viking after-world, while describing their educational goals and collaborative process:
Finally, last but not least, the third group, with biology as their topic, made a giant flower and an amusement park-style ride that tours you around it, first inside than out, with information popping up at specific points to educate you about its different components. Karyn, below, gives us a tour:
All three groups worked hard and came up with different approaches to teach science through Minecraft. The first, the Minecraft Museum for Cretaceous Ocean Life, used a museum as a model. The second, about Vikings, created an interactive simulation, a form of role play. The third, about flowers, offered a different form of simulation, allowing us to experience something at a different scale. All the youth knew this was just an exercise – learning how to design an educational experience, learning how to collaborate. And it was an exercise for all of us in exploring different modes of science learning in Minecraft.
From the end of this project until the end of the program, the youth will focus on ONE area of science in ONE Minecraft-based learning experience. In the final sessions of the calendar year we focused on building their collaborative skills, reflecting on what had worked (and not) throughout their small group projects, and setting guidelines, like the ones below (click to see the full image):
What science topic will they choose for their final project? How will they create a learning environment within Minecraft to address it? Come back next time to find out.