STEM Experiments

STEM Experiments

11-13 yrs old

Math & Economics

Science

Technology

This lesson designed by Toby Peck, Belvedere Park Primary School takes advantage of the code building capacity of Minecraft to stage experiments.

avatar Submitted By: Victorian Minecraft Innovators

April 27, 2021

Learning Objectives

  • Students might use and adapt the pre-designed experiments provided to explore and understand the scientific process and collect, compare and analyze data. They might also use the pre-designed experiments as exemplars for designing, coding and carrying out their own scientific investigations within the Minecraft environment.
  • The Minecraft environment simulates the physical world in many ways.
  • They can propose hypotheses, collect data and produce findings supported by evidence.
  • Readily repeatable experiments can be created and data collected.
  • Students will find coding valuable for repeated tasks and creating specified conditions.

Guiding Ideas

  1. What processes are required for the scientific process?
  2. What is an hypothesis?
  3. What is an hypothesis? What is a control and experimental condition?
  4. What conditions in Minecraft lend themselves to running experiment that cannot easily be managed in the physical world? (accelerated time, day/night, growing, movement, etc)
  5. How can coding be used to support the design of tasks and conditions in such experiments? (conditionals, loops, etc)

Student Activities

The command and code building capacity of Minecraft allows for the design, creation and staging of experiments, especially some that might be difficult or impossible to stage in the physical world.

Students as a class view the video demonstrating Toby's the farming model experiment. The question is will plants continue to grow at night if exposed to artificial light sources (torches)?

Ask students if they might replicate this experiment? Have students discuss…

How would they go about designing it? Can you run the experiment manually (without code or command blocks)? What value does the code or command blocks provide? What commands or code might it require?

Students form small teams to deconstruct the experiment and brainstorm ideas for how to to use command blocks and/or to code the Agent to build the farm. How can the tasks in the experiment be broken down? The will need to break the components into parts planting 1 bed, planting a row of beds, planting 2 rows of beds, growing cycles, light on or off? They may need to re-watch the video to break down the components. Students might create a flow chart to show the breakdown of step/components and the flow of activity.

Share, compare and discuss flowcharts/plans with another group in class and get feedback on your group’s ideas. Give students time to rework their plan incorporating any feedback received.

Students can then create a world in Minecraft to begin to design their programmed components for the experiment, beginning with planting a single bed. They could build the farm and run the experiment manually? Then consider what part of the experiment they want to expedite with code. Coding is an iterative experience and students should code test and save components in small chunks and frequently.

Once students feel the coding is complete they should run their experiments several times, collecting data and establishing findings.

If students satisfactorily code and run the farming experiment, they might then move on to design their own experiments. The remainder of the video offers other ideas for experiments that can effectively be run in Minecraft.  Megan Pusey demonstrates ideas for experiments in her 2020 ACMI conversation on the Science of Minecraft.

Student groups should design, create, code or command (where appropriate) and run their own selected experimental designs. They should run their experiments several times, collecting data and establishing findings, then present their experimental process, data and findings to the class.

Performance Expectations

Students will demonstrate understanding of the components and steps in the scientific process by designing experiments, gathering data and reaching findings.

They will demonstrate an understanding of the efficiencies of code for running repeatable and replicable processes in those experiments.

Victorian Curriculum

Science: Science Inquiry skills Levels 5&6, 7&8

  • Questioning and predicting
  • Planning and conducting
  • Analysing and evaluating
  • Communicating

Digital Technologies

  • Specification, algorithms and development
  • Data collection, representation and interpretation