Minecraft Build Challenge: Photosynthesis and Respiration

I have found that Minecraft, as an educational tool, is very effective in helping students understand science concepts. When students are tasked with a “Minecraft Build Challenge” in my classroom, they are required to demonstrate modeling skills, solve problems, practice engineering principles, and have fun. Though the ‘fun’ part is what the students see first, they don’t realize that they are demonstrating in depth science knowledge until the very end of their build. I have had students that are turned off and unmotivated for much of my class turn around, flip a switch, and submit amazing work from a Minecraft build challenge all because of “motivation”. Minecraft can be a motivating tool for a lot of students. This series of blog posts are some science Minecraft build challenges that I have put together to deeply assess student understanding of science and to motivate and engage students in the learning process. Please feel free to use any of these ideas or resources if Minecraft Education is something you would use in your classroom.

This Minecraft Build Challenge seeks to assess students’ knowledge and understanding of how the processes of photosynthesis and respiration transform energy and matter as both energy and matter cycles through the organism during these processes. The key to this science standard is modelling; modelling the correct types of matter and energy moving throughout the system, modelling the correct number of products and reactants in the system, and modelling how the energy and matter transforms within the system. Minecraft is perfect for assessing students based on modelling! Here’s how this Minecraft Build Challenge works:

  1. Students will select a Minecraft world to build in and they will also select one or multiple organisms they want to build to demonstrate how photosynthesis and respiration occurs through them.
  2. Students will build their models of photosynthesis and respiration. Emphasize that they should include correct numbers of products and reactants as well as creativity in modelling how matter and energy are being transformed through these processes.
  3. Finally students will find a partner and have them take a tour through the models they built. Their partners should give them feedback on the accuracy and creativity of the models they built.

Please see my slideshow and video below for further details of how this engaging assessment tool works in Minecraft.

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