11-13 yrs old

Computer Science


Students use code to create models of molecules and extended structures.

avatar Submitted By: John Miller

October 29, 2018

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  • Creativity
  • Critical Thinking

Supporting Files

World File

World file for student use

Learning Objectives

  • Students will use the shape (hollow sphere) command to create molecules.
  • Students will learn how to use the print code block to label each molecule
  • Students will be able to develop models to describe the atomic composition of simple molecules and extended structures. (NGSS MS-PS1-1)

Guiding Ideas

Students can use the shape command to create atoms and molecules of varying complexity.

To accurately reflect the molecular structure, students will need to scale each atom appropriately.

Color-coding each molecule to best represent individual elements is encouraged.

Four molecules will be created: water, ammonia, methanol, and a student (or teacher) choice.

An optional challenge is to construct an extended structure such as sodium chloride.


Student Activities

Upon spawn, students will discover four stations in which to construct four molecular models. Three models are predetermined: water, ammonia, and methanol. The fourth is a student (or teacher) choice.

Each model builds in complexity.

The water molecule is partially built – a red oxygen atom hovers in space beneath a large printed label. Students are to use the shape sphere command to attach two (scaled down) white hydrogen atoms to it. They will find a prismarine brick slab to stand upon when running their command.

The ammonia molecule is also partially built and includes a label above it. Students are to connect three white hydrogen atoms to it.

The more complex methanol molecule is represented by only a prismarine brick slab. Students will need to construct it from scratch. They will also use the print command to print the label above their completed molecule.

The last quadrant is available for students to generate a personal choice molecule, or the teacher may suggest one.

A final challenge is optionally available for students that have mastered the sphere command. Ask them to create an extended structure lattice of sodium chloride or diamond high above the spawn point.

Students will likely need the following commands to complete this lesson:

  • player on chat command
  • shape sphere of (color concrete) radius (5 or 3) [hollow]
  • block print command

The radius can be scaled up, but it will take more time to generate. When using the print command students will need to orient themselves to the four cardinal directions to place the text correctly.

* Minecraft concrete blocks are used in this lesson and positively reflect the common colors associated with molecular models. Red for oxygen, blue for nitrogen, white for hydrogen, etc.


Performance Expectations

Students will position and orient themselves to the four cardinal directions to print each molecular name.

Students will master the sphere command by generating multiple spheres of various radii.

Students will use the print command to label each structure.

Students will generate four 3-D molecular models.

Students will (optionally) generate a lattice structure.

Students should be able to answer the following questions:

  • How are color and scale used in molecular modelling?
  • Compare and contrast water, ammonia, and methanol’s molecular structure.
  • What was your biggest challenge in creating a lattice structure?



  • Creativity
  • Critical Thinking

Supporting Files

World File

World file for student use