In 8th grade tech class we do something different from Scratch. This year we will learn by completing a series of logic and programming challenges using Minecraft.
Wait…Minecraft?!? Is this a class or a game?
While Minecraft is a game it sure is an odd duck. There is no right or wrong way to play it and no winning. And while we are using Minecraft in the classroom, we are not really playing and it isn’t really the same Minecraft you see at home or on the iPad, console, or phone.
We are using the classroom version of Minecraft, MinecraftEDU with the ComputerCraftEDU mod. These special versions of Minecraft support classroom and learning management features not present in the retail game. They also enable students to automate the common (and repetitive) Minecraft tasks of mining and building through programmable robot turtles within the Minecraft world.
Students will work through a series of challenges using their robot turtles and receive rewards which may be exchanged for custom character accessories within Minecraft.
Programming will progress from using a remote control to issue commands to the robot turtle, followed by using a visual programming model for writing programs for the turtle, and ultimately writing straight Lua code for complex turtle programs.
Students with prior programming experience may test out of the tutorial grind and take advantage of an independent study option. They can start work on challenges such as “write a Lua program for your turtle to mine materials and build a house” or creating interactive fiction or other text-based games using the in-game computers. Students may propose other programming projects using ComputerCraftEDU. Learn more about the independent study option.
Most of the trimester is spend working on a major assignment: programming a robot to build a house. The assignment details and instructions are on the page for Minecraft Assignment: Build a House.
Slides for reference, students who were absent, and students preparing for a quiz:
Direct links to YouTube videos for house building programs:
MinecraftEdu is installed in the folder /users/student/applications/minecraftedu
Get to this folder by accessing the Finder’s Go menu and choosing Go to folder (or use the keyboard shortcut Command+Shift+G) and entering the above folder path. You may also press Command+Space to open the spotlight search box and enter startlauncher.jar
startlauncher.jar is the file to double-click and start MinecraftEdu
Change your player name. Your position and possessions will be restored if you always use the same name. All students must use their assigned class email address as their username. Just use the part to the left of the @ symbol. For example, mine would be pjames.
Options can be used to change keyboard control bindings. Try to avoid this if you can as it can cause confusion for the other 8th grader using your computer.
Choose Multiplayer, Direct Connect, and enter the IP address announced during class.
Robot Turtle Tips
- Once equipped, access the Turtle Remote by pressing 0 (zero)
- It can be easy to drop or lose your turtle remote. Ask for a new one if this happens.
- Use a pick (called a “turtle picker-upper” in the game) to break your Turtle so you can pick it up if needed. Try not to lose your pick. Mr. James can give you a replacement if needed.
- Always be thinking about where your turtle is, where your person is, and how you will reunite them. Be cautious about moving your turtle high into the air or deep into a tunnel: if you deactivate your remote, you will not be able to access the turtle again! You can get stuck, so try to avoid situations you can’t get out of. Access the turtle remote with 0, or request a teleport out of trouble.
- You can cheat by riding your turtle or performing other exploits which defeat the learning objectives. This is not a no-win Kobayashi Maru exercise, so please don’t cheat or skip over things unnecessarily. We are here to learn, not to win a game.
- Get help from your neighbor. Ask if they finished your quest and what tips they have if you are not seeing what needs to be done.
- Start experimenting with programming your turtle. It gets tedious clicking the “go forward” button on the remote over and over. Try “REP 10 DO move forward” as a starter (repeat 10 times: go forward) to avoid clicking the “go forward” button 10 times.
- The equipment quest is all about crafting a tool (the shovel in this case) onto your turtle and using it to mine. Go out of the arena, talk to the guide, Press E and place the turtle and the tool next to each other to craft a digging turtle, which you drag to your inventory to use. Then mine 3 red sand, transfer to your inventory, and talk to the guide again to finish.
- The Puzzle Quests are a lot of fun! Just keep moving forward. The goal is not always immediately obvious. Place “home blocks” and teleport to them if you get stuck. See the external tip guide for a puzzle-by-puzzle guide to what is expected for each puzzle.