MFM1P Ratios – 3D Print, Minecraft, Scale Drawing Project

Today in Grade 9 Applied Mathematics, we had a full class (75 minutes) to work on our Ratio project. Students were either creating scale drawings, creating a scale model for the 3D printer or creating a scale model in Minecraft.

Other than a few little mishaps like some student-caused flooding in Minecraft and the yours truly being blocked in a cave in by some students who knew I couldn’t figure my way out, students did really well at staying on task today (grin).

Many students taught themselves how to use Tinkercad to make their 3D models and created their entire model. We taught no lessons on Tinkercad nor Minecraft. Students were pretty much on their own and had to rely on each other. They were great at sharing tips and tricks they found. Myself and Ms. LaChapelle let the class know when a student figured something out, so others could learn from them. We sat down beside students and learned with them.

I was worried that this project would take way beyond 3 periods, or that we’d lose sight of the math expectations. Part way through the period I couldn’t see any progress in a students’ Minecraft work area, so I asked him what he was up to. He replied that he had been building his skate park underground. I had no idea how to get there, or how he did that so he showed me. I caught it on video and asked him some ratio questions while I could – just to see if we were thinking in terms of “proportional reasoning”. Tomorrow I’ll really get to see when students set up their ratios using the iPads and Explain Everything. Here is a quick video of him showing off his skate park. He got stalled on some basic multiplication facts in his head as I put him on the spot, but he definitely understands the idea of ratio. This activity has provided multiple entry points and the ability for students to use ratios that are easier or more difficult to work with.


Below is a 7-minute, rambly video about our activity and sharing some of our student creations. I literally just hit record and started exploring what they had created. Far from a polished video, but I wanted to archive the process.

3D Print and Minecraft MFM1P Project from Jac Calder on Vimeo.

MFM1P Proportional Reasoning Task: 3D printing, Minecraft and Art

We started talking about our Proportional Reasoning Task #1 in class today. Students will create scale models or drawings (and explain how they did it) to demonstrate their understanding of ratios. They were given three options:

  1. Minecraft scale model – create a scale, find or measure the dimensions of an object or room and build a scale model in Minecraft
  2. Art enlargement – find or create a small image and enlarge it using a scale created by the student
  3. 3D Printed scale model – create a scale, find or measure the dimensions of an object and design a scale model of it. Then print using one of our 3D printers.

Of course, my very creative students pushed me to offer even more options. “Could we create a Lego scale model?”. Well, yes… that would be spectacular. Anything to show me that you understand ratios.

Much to my dismay, we have limited time to do this task. If we had my way, I’d do creative projects like this all semester and go really very deep. However, we have an amazing final task planned for this class which will relate back to this task. It will let us go much deeper. We will only have 2-3 periods to work on this one.

As teachers, we are moving so very far out of our comfort zones on this one. I had never played Minecraft before. Thanks to an OTF Co-op Ministry grant, I now have a server set up through the folks at Minecraft EDU and a world with 10 really neat workspaces for groups. I now know what it means to “teleport to spawn location”. Yikes.  I’m much more comfortable with the 3D Printer, but to be honest the design aspect is still very new to me. I have not spent much time learning how different design programs work. My students in previous classes figured out what they need to design what they wanted. I spent the time troubleshooting the file types and 3D printer itself.

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Some students in our class were worried because they bring their own tablets to class (not laptops) and the 3D design program I showed off works on laptops best. We solved that problem too. Students are pretty excited. About half chose Minecraft and half 3D printing. Only 1 or 2 chose the art task, which surprised me.

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Our assessment will ultimately bebased on the presentation and explanation of how they chose their scale, and how they set up and solved ratios to determine 3 or 4 dimensions of their model. This may be done in Educreations, using a cell phone video camera, Explain Everything, using Camtasia screen capture on a laptop, conferencing with students or a presentation to the class.

The next couple of days are going to be crazy, insane and totally out of my comfort zone. If you have any tips or tricks for us, we’d greatly appreciate it. My fingers are crossed that this works out!