There are a great many ways teachers can engage students using Minecraft Education Edition. Some require more knowledge of Minecraft from teachers than others. One of the features of Minecraft it is helpful to understand are the natural mechanics, including gravity, water and lava. Welcome to Day 80 of 365 Ideas for Office 365, natural mechanics in Minecraft.
It doesn’t take long to realize that not everything in Minecraft follows the rules of gravity. If you step off a block, you will fall. You obey gravity, unless you are playing creative mode, and double-click the space bar. Then you fly, but otherwise, gravity works, on you. But if you try to chop down a tree, you’ll find that you can remove one block from the trunk, but the rest of the tree behaves as if it was still there. It “floats”.
You cannot place a block in midair. It has to be attached to another block. But if you place a block of wood or stone on the ground, then one on top of it, you can mine (delete) the one below it and the top one will stay there in the air. Furthermore, once you make a little tower, you can add blocks to the side. They don’t need something beneath them; they just need to be attached to another block.
However, some blocks obey the laws of gravity. Sand, gravel, snow and concrete powder will all fall down if you remove the block underneath them. You also can’t attach them to the side of another block, only on top of another block. Well, technically you can, but it will immediately fall. You and some blocks follow the natural mechanics of gravity but other blocks follow different mechanics.
Water follows natural mechanics of the real world better. Water flows. It flows in all directions. If you want to see how far it will spread, place a bucket of water on a flat, open space. Not only does it spread in all directions, the depth of the water on the blocks it covers decreases as you get further away from the source block. It will only travel so far horizontally, but you can create waterfalls by having it fall as it flows away. You can visually see the direction of the flow, and if you hover over the flow, you can identify the “source” block- where you placed the bucket- because it doesn’t flow. The source block looks tranquil. So water is our second example of natural mechanics.
The third example of natural mechanics is lava. Lava also flows, but there are some differences with water’s flow and lava’s flow. Lava moves much slower, drops in depth much faster from block to block, and only flows three blocks form the source. It does fall the same way as water, so you can create some lava falls eerily reminiscent of Star Wars Episode 3. Actually, the differences in how water and lava flow are another example of natural mechanics represented in Minecraft.
As you play around with these natural mechanics, try mixing water with lava, and lava with water. (Yes, there is a difference.) See if you can figure out the “laws” at work here.
Curious to get started using Minecraft EE with your students? Find training resources here!