I came up with the idea of using Minecraft over the summer for the current school year. I knew I would be teaching relative dating and the Law of Superposition and wanted to develop a fun and interactive way for my students to learn the concept. (The idea that oldest rock/fossil is in the bottom layer of a given sample) I originally just wrote the idea down with my other notes and ideas that I wanted to try during the school year, but since I wasn't going to teach relative dating until the second semester of the year, I put my idea on the back burner.
As the time approached for our Change Over Time unit, the idea of using Minecraft crept back into my mind on numerous occasions. I began by starting to play the game on my iPad to get familiar with it. (I was well aware that my students would be better at the game than me)
Students were broken up into groups of three. Each group was given at least one iPad to use for the activity as well as an activity sheet that they were required to fill out during the activity. Students opened the Minecraft App and selected one of five designated worlds. (I created the worlds prior with A LOT of help from some of my boys) In each world, the group found an “Archaeology Site.” Each site was fenced off at the corners so the students would know where they were located.
Within the dig site, students were given the task of digging out each of the seven layers. Each layer contained a chest with one or two artifacts from a civilization that lived there before. On their activity sheets, students recorded the artifacts in each layer and the type of soil/rock that surrounded.
Once students were finished with their dig site, they rearranged the rows from each layer to have a side view of their dig site. This allowed students to have a view of all of the layers they dug up in the previous steps. Students were then able to label and answer questions related to the dating of the objects and what information the students could infer from their locations in the dig site.
Ultimately, I think the activity went well. I did run into a couple of speed bumps along the way. There were some issues along the way of determining how to be able to place objects in the holes so they wouldn't disappear and gathering all of the materials needed. I was extremely fortunate to have several students that offered up their own time after school to help dig holes and gathering materials. I truly owe those boys the world to helping me make this activity successful.
Please don’t hesitate to contact me if you have any questions.