WHIMC Teacher Guides

Goals

Our primary goal is to create a fun and engaging astronomy simulation game that generates continuing interest and wonder in STEM. Our secondary goal is to foster learning experiences and activities that align with recognized standards for use in STEM classrooms or workshops.

Requirements

Participants will need a Windows or OSX Computer with Minecraft Java Edition. See our Getting Started Guide for more information as well as how to sign up for the server. It is recommended for learners ages 9 through 14 who have some familiarity with Minecraft or keyboard-controlled games.

How Parents or Educators can use the WHIMC Server

The WHIMC server is built to support 2 kinds of learning experiences: 1. Individual participants playing alone at home or separated from classmates without an active instructor. This can be done asynchronously over as many sessions as are desired. This approach makes use of the quests system and supportive AI agents and is recommended for parents or settings like open-play study hall. 2. A group of participants playing in a classroom or informal learning setting with a dedicated guide or teacher. This approach is best suited to integration with specific learning objectives and complementary activities such as demonstrating planetary physics with balls, using tools like the PBS Nova Exoplanet Lab, drawing potential alien world habitats and more ideas found in the educators section of our website. It is recommended that teachers DO NOT use the quests system for a WHIMC workshop or class but instead follow the walk-through and then teach students the game-based tools (below) and assign quests themselves.

WHIMC Server User Experience (UX) overview

Participants on the WHIMC server can use commands to... 1. Make use of /sciencetools - oxygen, pressure, airflow, radiation, altitude, temperature, gravity and more - to recognize and measure world characteristics that influence one another, geography, and humans.
To use this tool, press T to open the chat.
Then type /sciencetools measure and hit space to see what tools are available.
You can type any tool as a short command, like /gravity or /year.
2. Learn to /observe like a scientist using prompts and templates to document and compare notable features in simulations.
To use this tool, press T to open the chat.
Then, type /observe followed by a space and a written observation.
 Press enter to place that observation in the world. 
OR you can type /observe and press enter to open the templates menu

3. Help learners make use of the minimap and quests journal to know where to go and what to do. The map is given in Rocket Launch and the quests journal in Lunar Crater:

If participants ever lose their quests journal they can get it back on lunar crater or in the space station hub:

Map Required Quest Purpose

Rocket Launch

Get to the rocket
(custom16)

Introduce players to quests, indicate they’re going to space, give them something to look for as they explore 

Lunar Crater

Welcome to lunar base LeGuin!
(custom1)

Further introduce quest mechanics, talking to NPC’s, need for space suit, low gravity, direct to central moon domes

Meeting people

Learn about different kinds of scientists, each one gives you a quest to learn a science tool (custom2)

Feeling the pressure
(custom3)

Harlem explains /pressure - buildings have their strength shaped inward to keep air INSIDE, which is trying to burst out

What’s Cooler than being cool?
(custom4)

Misavo teaches about relative /temperature and water states/needs on the moon

Not-so-solar-wind
(custom5)

Huxley indicates need for /airflow (or /wind ), encourages characters to explore habitation areas to understand aspects of life on the moon, from food to health to keeping clean

A breath of fresh air
(custom6)

Olivia asks players to help find an airlock /oxygen  leak, which is a chance to explain why we have airlocks and how air is a limited resource in a place like the moon

Space station access
(custom7)

Reminder to complete per-person tasks, not just talk to them, requires two clicks


Reward:
 Initiate Rank - ability to go to space station

Space Station, and “What-If” earths

Explore [What-If] Earths
(custom11)

A whirlwind tour of the starter “What-if” worlds on the WHIMC server, where players observe earth in its default state and then later imagine and explore earth with dramatically different astronomical conditions

Reward: Explorer Rank - ability to visit all exoplanets

No Moon

Observe with the wind
(custom12)

An alternative to the observation tutorial, asking players to make on observation with /wind to gain permission to leave the planet and visit other “what-if” worlds

Reward: Observer Rank - ability to visit the other “what-if” Earths

Colder Sun

On the edge
(custom13)

Visit Astronomer-Artist Jorge Perez-Gallego on the edge of the desert and then travel around the planet to make 3 /observe  commands noticing the tidal lock conditions

Tilted Earth

Time traveler
(custom14)

Astrochemist Clara Sousa-Silva invites players to see what happens to animals as the planet changes seasons and conditions rapidly over an entire year

All Exoplanets

Tour de exoplanet
(custom8)

A truly fantastic set of visits to exoplanets that real live humans will probably never see in-person, plays learn about science-related variables that would make life very difficult in these extreme worlds

Reward: Scientist Rank - gain access to solar system worlds

Gliese

Ice on fire
(custom15)

Set an IR sensor probe’s orbital distance by checking an /altitude measure above Gliese, a world of ice on fire

Cancri

Seas of lava?
(custom18)

Determine just how dangerous /radiation is above the molten exoplanet of Cancri

Trappist

Pond trap
(custom20)

Investigate the composition of caldera liquids found on the surface of the semi-habitable world of Trappist by using /atmosphere  

Kepler

Collect a sample
(custom21)

Study a sample of plant life to see how light of different wavelengths has changed its composition

Brown Dwarf

Brown Dwarf OR planet?
(custom26)

Confer with real-life astronomer Theron Carmichael to determine if the planet we’ve sent a probe to is a Brown Dwarf or not by checking /atmosphere  and /observe - players become the probe to go inside the planetary body!

Map Secondary Quest(s) Purpose

Rocket Launch

Reusable Rockets
(custom24)

Introduces the connection between environmental concerns and space exploration, as well as a chance to meet a real PBS scientist - Anjali Tripathy

Lunar Crater

Exoplanet Lab
(custom17)

Connect to external PBS Nova Lab activity

Lunar Crater, Earth Control

Observation Tutorial
(custom9)

Teaches about three kinds of more scientific ways to observe - descriptive, comparative, inferential ; optional but grants the “observer” status upon successful completion

Earth Control

Baseline (optional)
(custom30)

Invites learners to take some baseline measures of astronomy-related variables for later comparison, including atmosphere, gravity, magnetic field and characteristics of the sun and moon

Space Station

Singing plants
(custom25)

Anjali Tripathy implores players to think about recycling as more than just trash but also air and water and then asks them to release auxiliary supplies generated by the biolab upstairs

Colder Sun

Cave Life
(custom35)

How might life for flora and fauna (or humans) look in these extreme worlds? Meet characters in sheltered caves who explain more.

Tilted Earth

Measuring Migrations
(custom34)

A chance to find more animals and learn about severe and rapid weather conditions impacting more species than just mammals.

Mynoa

That’s no moon
(custom22)

Visit each side of the Mynoa (Earth as a moon) observing the differences Tyran (Neptune-size moon) makes along the way (subsequent quests below)

Solis defuit
(custom29)

Think about and make an observation about why the area is dark, take a temperature measurement, and observe why the temperature is so low.

Wanna knowa mynoa?
(custom28)

Take a measurement of the temperature in this area and observe why it is different as compared to the close side of Mynoa. Then, measure the magnetic field and observe why it is so strong in the shadow of Tyran.

Mynoa museum mania! (custom31)

Observe the museum’s enormous display of Mynoa and Tyran size difference! Then, spur curiosity about the remainder of the planet through

Two Moons

Lunar Loop
(custom36)

Visit the museum during both tide times as well as see Lluna

Seeing double
(custom27)

Notice the effect of two moons on tides, understand tidal bulge

What’s the time?
(custom32)

Think about how two moons affect the length of day

Solar System Worlds

Local Attractions
(custom10)

Explain


Reward: Engineer Rank - now you’re ready to build a habitat!

ET Life

Explore the depths of Europa to see what heat-fueled microbial life might look like on another planet

Asteroids

Learn about how we might mine asteroids for rare resources

Mars

See how we could explore, survive and even terraform mars

Celestial Bodies

Big Bang
(custom33)

Explore the origins of the galaxy by visiting a planetarium, observatory and deep space telescope to visit galaxies, neutron stars, black holes and even a quasar!

Reward: Engineer Rank - now you’re ready to build a habitat!

Sub-quests here - planetarium, JWST, etc…

Build

Alien habitation
(custom19)

Visit this period’s build world challenge!