Tuesday, 23 October 2012

Gravity Lab 2.0

Well the Gravity Lab activity has been begun with all classes now, I started it with my second class yesterday, tweaked my introduction a bit so that they had a bit more direction at the start. My colleague also began it with her class directly after I started it with mine. So we had a bit of a discussion about what issues she came across and what we would need to change before doing this again. Following is the ideas we shared.

The introductory video is great, students really focus and get into it, but some tweaks should be made, we should have video footage of the scientists performing the experiments so that students have a clearer picture of the task they need to replicate.

The learning intention is not 'clear' enough for students to get on their own. ie, their task is to perform experiments on Minecraft gravity, but the outcome is that they need to be able to work out how Minecraft 'lies' about gravity, this must be clearer to the students so that the focus (at least towards the end) is on the outcome, not just the task.

There should be clearer instructions around the research journal, and an emphasis on how important it is that they fill it out in the prescribed way. There should also be a clear indication at each research point as to the height of the test, I tried to make it necessary for them to read the backstory at each research location by putting that information in there, but it seems that it is still a bit tricky for them to work out what height the station they are testing at is.

So with some tweaks (and some more recording with my student actors) we should have a lesson/activity that anyone can pick up and run with, in theory.

My colleague also came up with a possible re-write of the backstory, whereby the 'trainee scientists' (students) are touring a research site when EvilSteve destroys the research and accidentally kills the scientists, and then at the end of the video a simple statement about how it is now up to them to complete the research. A good idea I think, but I wonder how difficult it would be to do that, or whether I would still have to do an introductory video, and then take the students to the briefing room for the final instructions prior to completing their research. One advantage to this is that it would be quite simple to include footage of the experiments the scientists are performing.

Now for the bugs from my class. I think these are Minecraft related, not MinecraftEdu but have not had the opportunity to check for sure, but the good old 'sticky' button bug reared its head again, only replacing the button didn't fix it, which means that the dispenser was stuck, so I think I will probably need to replace that and refill it.

An interesting issue that I had never come across before was that gravel would not fall any more from a particular place. I destroyed all surrounding blocks to try and force a block update, but it still wouldn't fall. So next thought was there was something below it like an invisible ladder or something. So I put some sand there, and it fell straight away. Great, fixed it right? Nope, put gravel there again and it still wouldn't fall. So I am at a loss for that one so I just destroyed some of the ladder up and put a sign saying OUT OF ORDER.

One issue my colleague came across was one that I dealt with in my own classes, but as I am proficient at both Minecraft and the teacher additions in MinecraftEdu it was not a concern for me, was that students can fall down the safe drop for villagers or sheep, despite me putting a border block there. So I need to tweak the map setup slightly so they can either get themselves out or cannot fall down there in the first place.

That is all for now, the second class is going through their second research session this afternoon, and I did a much better job of staying in character yesterday (although I did lost it at one point due to student misbehaviour in the classroom). I think this was easier because I was doing research with a student as he did not have a partner. So hopefully today will be the same without the losing of character. Thanks for reading, feel free to comment below.

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