** Now updated to avoid conflicts with ComputerCraftEdu thanks to EduElfie **
Introduction - Latitude and longitude can be a tough concept to teach. It's one thing to understand the basic concept of the grid, but it's another to apply this knowledge to locations on a real map. This lesson will teach students to locate coordinates on a map and then navigate to them in the Minecraft world.
I Can Statement - I can understand and apply the concept of latitude and longitude.
Pre-Lesson activities - This lesson assumes that students have already been introduced to the basic concepts of latitude and longitude. The teacher should begin the lesson by reviewing these concepts, including the compass rose, equator, prime meridian, and the general ideas of which way the lines run. Students will then divide into 2-6 teams for the lesson. Teams can be whatever size the teacher decides and can even run across multiple classes.
Students will get a paper handout with a list of 26 treasure coordinates and a gridded map of the world. The teacher should give the students a few minutes to devise a strategy and plot a few coordinates.
The activity - In the Minecraft map, students will start out on top of a giant pyramid on a map with a latitude-longitude grid in the sky. Each student will be able to get a map and a compass from dispensers at the pyramid. Students will have a 20-minute (or longer at teacher’s discretion) time frame to collect as many of the items they can. Each location features a command block that gives the item, so there is no danger of running out of items.
To help the students navigate, there are two in-game navigation aids. The first is a giant latitude-longitude grid in the sky. The equator and prime meridian are both numbered in increments of ten. The second navigation aid is a series of information blocks with signs that tell the student's current coordinates.
The treasure locations are in various locations. Each has a unique treasure. The command block that dispenses the treasures are sometime in plain view and sometimes hidden. Some may be in trees, some may be down stairs or underground. Students should not have to dig to get to the treasures. There is a spreadsheet with the coordinates and treasure types to help the teacher.
Interactive Activity/Group Practice - Students will work in their groups to find as many of the locations as they can and return the items to their color-coded team chests on top of the pyramid. It’s a good idea to have a checklist of items and to have students show the teacher the item when they get it back to the pyramid. This prevents poaching of items from chests.
The teacher will monitor using the MinecraftEdu teacher mod to jump between students and observe their progress. The teacher can freeze students when necessary to explain a point. If students become stuck, the teacher can teleport them to another location.
Independent Practice/Homework - Students will write a reflection on how their group worked as a team. Other possible post-game activities could include:
reviewing tactics used to locate the treasure items in a whole group discussion
creating a similar grid in the classroom or outside and “navigating” to coordinates
- creating a plan to maximize success in the game if students were to play again.
Latitude-Longitude Navigation Challenge student handout (contains coordinates and map)
Treasure locations - this spreadsheet contains the location and treasure type at each coordinate.
North Carolina Social Studies Standards
7.G.2.1 - Construct maps, charts, and graphs to explain data about geographic phenomena (e.g. migration patterns and population and resource distribution patterns).
7.G.2.2 - Use maps, charts, graphs, geographic data and available technology tools (i.e. GPS and GIS software) to interpret and draw conclusions about social, economic, and environmental issues in modern societies and regions
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