What is the world made of?

What is the world made of?

8-10 yrs old

11-13 yrs old

14-18 yrs old


Students will use the Material Reducer to better understand that natural and synthetic objects are all made of elements.

avatar Submitted By: Minecraft Education

March 9, 2020


  • Critical Thinking

Learning Objectives

  • Understand that natural and synthetic objects are all made of elements.
  • Gather information about the elemental composition of Minecraft blocks.
  • Understand that synthetic materials and chemicals can be made from natural resources.
  • Be aware that some elements are much more common than others.
  • MS-PS1-1. Develop models to describe the atomic composition of simple molecules and extended structures.

Guiding Ideas

Lesson 4

All natural and synthetic materials are composed of chemicals, be they elements, molecules or compounds.

Many materials have similar elemental compositions but different properties. For example most stone-like materials are composed of silicon and oxygen. Whilst living things are largely carbon, oxygen, nitrogen and hydrogen.

The material reducer is similar to real word instruments used to measure the elemental composition of materials.


Student Activities

Students collect materials (blocks) from the world around them and analyse them, to find their elemental composition, using the material reducer.

Students can categorize the materials (blocks) based on their elemental composition and then discuss what types of materials have similar compositions and why. For example students may wish to discuss why coal, which looks like a stone has the same composition as wood.

Students can try and construct new compounds and materials made from the sourced from the 'natural' materials.


Performance Expectations

What materials have similar elemental compositions and why?

What can be constructed from natural materials and what can they be used for?

What materials are common in nature?


  • Critical Thinking