Grade Levels: 3-5, 6-8

In this lesson plan, adaptable for grades 5-9, students play Lost at the Forever Mine, a game that introduces mathematical modeling that scientists and engineers practice to describe data and predict future outcomes. Students set up equations, work with graphs, input data, and use models to make predictions, experiencing how models are used as a tool to make decisions.

Lesson Plan Next Generation Science Standards Alignments

Students will:

  1. Set up equations
  2. Work with graphs
  3. Input data
  4. Use models to make predictions and decisions


  • Computers or other devices with Internet access
  • Interactive whiteboard


This lesson plan features a game called Lost at the Forever Mine, developed by our partner, Field Day Lab. In this game, students take on the role of a scientist who has crash-landed on an abandoned mining planet. With no fuel and dwindling oxygen, students need to mine enough fuel to power the ship, or they won’t survive. To do this, they will build mathematical models to predict they’re rate of mining and battery charge and to make decisions about what to do next.  

Preview and play Lost at the Forever Mine to plan how you will adapt it to your students’ needs. If students will be playing in small groups, review tips on Setting Cooperative Gaming Expectations.

Read Lost at the Forever Mine: SnapThought Prompts for more information and specific SnapThought prompts to provide students during game play.

Assign Lost at the Forever Mine to the whole class using the Assignment Builder.

Depending on your classroom routines and available technology, you may want to consider these grouping options:
  • 1:1 with students and devices
  • Two to three students sharing one device and swapping ideas and the device back and forth
  • Station model where small groups rotate through using the devices

Lesson Procedure:

  1. Ask students to brainstorm what a “model” is in science and in math. Jot their ideas on the whiteboard. After everyone has had a chance to share, explain that a model is a representation of something in the real world that can’t be experienced directly, such as climate change, plate tectonics, etc. Point out that the models can represent an idea, an object, a process, or a system.
  2. Project the game Lost at the Forever Mine on the whiteboard. Tell students that in this game, they’ll take on the role of a scientist who has crash-landed on an abandoned mining planet and they’re almost out of oxygen! Explain that they will use mathematical models to predict if they can get enough fuel to escape before time runs out.   
  3. Have students return to their computers and instruct them to open the Lost at the Forever Mine assignment. Circulate as students play and help as needed, but do encourage them to try and figure out how to play on their own, as this is the best way to learn.
  4. If students have individual accounts, encourage them to use the SnapThought® tool to take snapshots and describe their thinking as they play.  For suggested prompts, see Lost at the Forever Mine: SnapThought Prompts.  
  5. After everyone has played, bring the class together to discuss and review what they learned. Return to the original brainstorm and revise to delete incorrect information and add new knowledge. If students used SnapThought, encourage them to share their reflections.

Extension Activities:

Explore the BrainPOP topics including Climate Change and Greenhouse Effect,  for examples in which Tim and Moby describe complex models.