Looking for a fun way to explore learning to code with your students or children? Consider exploring writing Minecraft mods using Python. In our house, we continue to enjoy building(destroying) together as a family in shared Minecraft worlds. I appreciate that Minecraft helps the kids exercise their thinking about working in 3D. The python language favoring concise expression, fast feedback and quick iteration will keep students engaged.
As a parent, I have been searching for ways to make learning math more attractive for one of my kids. In this particular case, he loves to read and often enjoys finding ways to avoid doing tasks related to math. I’m so thankful that he has developed a joy in reading. I don’t think I had that motivation at his age. During a trip to a bookstore, he expressed interest in the book “Learn to Program Minecraft” by Craig Richardson. As an experiment, we picked up the book to explore his engagement level. In one week, he got to chapter 4 and started requesting that we practice coding Minecraft together after school. I felt something like this.
Seymour Papert, a key influence in the learning theory of constructionism, aspired to create a math world where children would play with math as a learning tool. I believe that he would be proud of the various open source projects that connect Minecraft to computational thinking.
To help you get started with coding Minecraft mods with Python, I wanted to share a few tools to help you get started.
1. Raspberry Pi: The Raspberry Pi is a great $40 computer build to engage students in playing with physical computing and computer science. If you run the raspbian operating system on your Raspberry Pi, you already have a copy of Minecraft installed and related python tools.
2. Setup for Windows and Mac: If you run Minecraft(java edition) on a Windows or Mac OS, you will find the following tutorial from instructables helpful. The tutorial walks you through the process of setting up your Minecraft server, setting up the python api, and configuring your Minecraft environment.
3. Getting Started with Minecraft Pi: This resource from the Raspberry Pi foundation provides a concise set of steps to get started. Make sure to check out the link on playing with TNT. (The kids enjoy that one!)
4. MagPi Magazine issue on Minecraft coding: I’m a big supporter of the MagPi Magazine. I often give this magazine as a gift to my geek friends. They recently published an issue on Minecraft coding that you’d enjoy.
5. Minecraft Python API cheat sheet: For experienced programmers who need a quick reference guide to the Minecraft Python API, I found the following link helpful.
6. www.codecademy.com: This interactive tutorial provides a fun way to get started with python programming and many other languages. People learn best when you see a new idea and immediately apply it. Code academy was designed with this learning pattern in mind. You are coached to immediately apply every new programming concept in an online code editor.
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