Exploring Contour Maps

11-13 yrs old

Geography

Math & Economics

Allow students to create and explore contour maps within the world of Minecraft.

Submitted By: Stephen Elford

September 5, 2018

Skills

• Collaboration
• Communication
• Critical Thinking

External References

A class of mine completing Activity 1: Make a Contour Map. Lesson run in 2012 in a different version of Minecraft.

A class of mine completing Activity 2: Build me a Mountain. Lesson run in 2012 in a different version of Minecraft.

Download world file for Minecraft: Education Edition.

The full lesson plan/outline to support you to effectively run this activity.

Learning Objectives

• Select, organise and represent data and information in different forms, including by constructing special purpose maps that conform to cartographic conventions, using digital and spatial technologies as appropriate (VCGGC131)
• Analyse maps and other geographical data and information using digital and spatial technologies as appropriate, to develop identifications, descriptions, explanations and conclusions that use geographical terminology (VCGGC104)

Guiding Ideas

Which way would you climb a mountain?

How would you know which path to plot when looking at a map?

Contour maps are designed to help people understand the topography (the physical height changes) of an area. In this lesson students will be challenged to create a topographical (contour) map of a mountain in Minecraft, create a mountain from a topographical map and use the knowledge gained from these two activities to determine which path you would take up a hypothetical mountain and explain why you would take that path.

Student Activities

There is a complete lesson plan/outline in the "External References" section but below is the quick version.

Pre lesson work: This world has 3 different identical mountains to create contour maps from, so you can group them into 3 or less groups to complete the activity.

All students spawn into a starting location, there is a demo ‘mound’ to show students the task in front of them. When all students are clear on their task, students can teleport to their group location by walking through the ‘group 1, 2 or 3’ doors.

As an indication, it took my 20 students just over 30 minutes to complete Activity 1: Make a Contour Map and a similar time for Activity 2: Build me a Mountain.

Activity 1: Make a Contour Map

Students are to create the contour map from the mountain. If your class is all in one group, I recommend placing your character top and centre of their mountain looking directly down and projecting this onto a screen so students can see the contour map as it is being created.

Activity 2: Build me a Mountain

The second activity gets students to create an approximation of the mountain from the contour map itself. You can get students here by teleporting all students to the Activity 2 staging area, use the teacher control platform to support you, it can be found by typing /tp 264 224 -1452 in the game.

Post lesson work:

Draw a random topographical map on the classroom board, ask students to think about which path they would take up the mountain, and why they would go that way. Ask students to share their path, and reasoning with the class.

Make sure to discuss with students why the mountain they created in activity 2 is only ever going to be an approximation, make it clear that we only know the contour lines, that anything could be happening between them in terms of the slope.

Performance Expectations

Students will be able to explain what path they would take up a ‘random’ topographical map based on their experience in Minecraft.

Students will be able to create, with reasonable accuracy, a contour map of a given mountain.

Students will be able to create an approximation of the mountain from a contour map.

Skills

• Collaboration
• Communication
• Critical Thinking

External References

A class of mine completing Activity 1: Make a Contour Map. Lesson run in 2012 in a different version of Minecraft.

A class of mine completing Activity 2: Build me a Mountain. Lesson run in 2012 in a different version of Minecraft.

Download world file for Minecraft: Education Edition.

The full lesson plan/outline to support you to effectively run this activity.