Apps & Games

Minecraft Hour of Code Teaches Kids the Basics of Programming

Minecraft is one of the most popular and enduring online and console games ever created. Thanks to the Minecraft Hour of Code, it’s also an excellent way for kids to learn the basics of programming.

Want to know more about the Minecraft Hour of Code and how it can benefit the future coders in the world? Keep reading!

What Is Minecraft?
First introduced in 2011, Minecraft is a sandbox video game created and designed by Swedish game designer, Markus “Notch” Persson. Now published by Mojang, the game allows players to build with a variety of 3D digital cubes to create a virtual world. In doing so, you can explore, gather resources, craft, combat, and more, both as a single player or through multiplayer gameplay.

In 2014, Microsoft acquired Mojang for $2.5 billion. By early 2018, over 144 million copies of Minecraft have been sold across all platforms, making it the second best-selling video game of all time.

Introducing Code.org’s Hour of Code
Founded in 2013, Code.org is a non-profit organization that encourages students to learn computer science both in a school setting and at home. Through its website, the organization offers free coding sessions for anyone who has a desire to learn.

Code.org’s “Hour of Code Challenge” was first launched during Computer Science Education Week in 2013. It encourages students to complete short programming tutorials over the course of an hour. Since then, the number of one-hour coding tutorials has grown considerably with titles now available in over 45 languages and 180 countries.

The first collaboration between Microsoft and Code.org, Minecraft Adventurer is available for use via a web browser. You can also download a copy for offline use in various languages for both Windows and Mac. The latter is ideally suited if you have weak internet service or you wish to download and install it on all the computers in a classroom.

With Minecraft Adventurer, you learn the basics of computer science by programming a virtual character through a simulated piece of the Minecraft world. For this, you use Blockly, a client-side JavaScript library for creating visual block programming languages and editors.

The first decision you make in Minecraft Adventurer is selecting a character, Alex or Steve. From there, you’ll notice a screen split into three parts. On the left, you’ll find the Minecraft play space. It’s here where your program runs. Below this, you’ll see the instructions for each level of the tutorial.

The toolbox, in the middle area, is where the commands which control your character reside. On the right is the workspace, where you build your program.

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To start coding in Minecraft Adventurers, you drag the moveForward(); block to your workspace.

Next, click Run. Doing so will allow your character to move forward one space on the Minecraft grid. From here, you can add more blocks to the program. As you do, your character will continue to move in a direction, depending on your command.

Minecraft Designer
With Minecraft Designer, you program animals and other Minecraft creatures in your very own version of Minecraft. Unfortunately, the first thing you’ll notice is that the Minecraft world has stopped. As such, the sheep aren’t moving, the chickens are laying eggs, and zombies are just standing still. Your job is to add code to make the Minecraft world work once again.

In this Minecraft Hour of Code, you will once again see a screen split into three main parts. On the left is the frozen Minecraft game that requires fixing. In the middle is the toolbox where you’ll find commands for the chickens, sheep, and other Minecraft creatures. On the right side is the workspace, which is where you’ll build the program.

At the start of Minecraft Designer, you’ll program a chicken by dragging the move forward command to the workspace. When hitting Run, the chicken moves one step. To go further, drag another move forward block until the highlight appears. By hitting Run again, the chicken walks two steps.

To redo the game, hit the Reset button and start again.

Minecraft: Hero’s Journey
In the latest Minecraft Hour of Coding, Minecraft: Hero’s Journey, you find an agent at every level. You must program this agent to get your character past each of the 12 current levels. For example, in the first level, the game tells you how to move the agent to a pressure plate, which will open an iron door, so that the character can escape,

Though Minecraft Adventurer is the only one of the three tools currently available for offline use, each is easily accessible online, regardless of your platform. After you complete each Minecraft puzzle, go back and solve them in different ways. In doing so, you’ll uncover additional hours of playability.

In preparing to write this article, I went through and began each Minecraft Hour of Coding. Each was exciting, fun, and yes, worthwhile. It comes highly recommended, regardless of your age.

To learn more, click here

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Isaac Newton

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