Well it has been a very long time since I wrote a blog post, and I have been feeling guilty about it for at least a week, but now I have some news to share from my classes. First of all I am so happy with how my contour map activity worked out. After getting through most of the activity with my year 7 class last week I sat down yesterday (a weekend and a day later) and they still knew how to read a contour map.
I drew a contour map, roughly the same shape as the one they ended up creating in Minecraft, on the board and asked the students where they would walk to travel from the bottom to the top. The discussion as to why they chose their particular starting point showed a depth of knowledge that amazed me. Some students were starting at the steepest part, as this gave them the shortest distance to travel, others started on the side that was the least steep, as this would give them the easiest walk. Yet others were starting at a steep part that shallowed out afterwards as they wanted a 'challenge' but once were tired they wanted an easier trip.
I ran this class 3 times, once with each year 7 class, here are some screenshots of the contour maps they created.
With my class later this week we will be heading back into Minecraft to build a mountain from a contour map, the students wanted the contour map on paper, but I think I will build them one in the world as well as their paper copy.
The other great news is that our whole year 7 project on energy efficient houses started today, at least for one class, the others will be starting tomorrow most likely but the students had to research and provide the teacher with a plan of what they were going to add to their house that was going to help conserve energy.
The students had to choose the environment they were going to build in, and some have started to build. In the end we decided that it would be most time efficient if students all built from the same floor plan, but could choose which environment to build in. The aim is not to create an awesome house in Minecraft, but to record a tour explaining how they have accounted for conduction, convection and radiation.
If this works, perhaps in future we will allow them to create their own floor plan, but we are trying for time efficiency here and the teachers felt that allowing them 'free reign' to build any sized house would take away the time we are hoping to gain by virtually creating a model instead of creating a real life model.
Here are some more screenshots of what the students have started building.
As always, thanks for reading and feel free to comment below.