After a workshop last week, Clive, our Director of Educational Development, sent me the following in an email:
A parent came up to me, and said: “I’m concerned that on Minecraft you can blow things up with TNT, it’s all about destruction, I’m worried about the effect on children…”
If you ever want to make a six-foot-one Liverpudlian with a motorcycle cry, just repeat that sentence to him. Clive has been inconsolable for days. Why? Because Minecraft: Raspberry Pi Edition is a teaching and learning tool we’ve found absolutely invaluable. It’s a powerful way to get kids who didn’t realise they had an aptitude for programming excited about the Pi; it’s a creative, constructive tool; kids and teachers love it; and we find it’s enormously popular with kids all over the world. At an event this weekend, Carrie Anne Philbin and Alex Bradbury witnessed children crying (and I promise we are not the sort of people who try to make children cry) when asked to allow other kids to have a go.
Here’s Martin O’Hanlon, of Stuff About Code, to explain why teaching with Minecraft is such a good idea. This video was filmed at last month’s Raspberry Jamboree: thanks to Alan O’Donohoe for filming it.
We’re very close to launching our new website now: you’ll be able to see it, and the learning resources we’re producing, around the beginning of April. We’ll have plenty of Minecraft resources to show you then, packaged for teachers and for pupils. We hope you’ll enjoy using them as much as we have enjoyed making them.
Martin O’Hanlon’s a familiar name in these parts, especially for fans of Minecraft: his repository of Pi Minecraft tricks and tutorials is one of our favourite resources. But Martin’s not all about magicking Menger-Sierpinski Sponges into the Minecraft universe: he does wonderful stuff with hardware and the Raspberry Pi too. Here’s some footage from his latest:
What you’re looking at here is something we haven’t seen before: camera footage with a GPS overlay, showing the route Martin has skied and his current speed. (Gordon, who has his own helmet cam hack, is quivering with envy.) Martin’s setup, like all the best Raspberry Pi hacks, also involves tupperware. It’s a one-button, one-led design, so it’s as easy as possible to use when you’re wearing ski gloves.
Work in progress
You can find everything you’ll need to construct your own at Martin’s Stuff about Code; he’s also done a very detailed writeup of the design process and included plenty of construction tips, along with the usual code and parts list. Thanks Martin!
Nicholas Harris is 11 years old, and he’s been learning to code with a Raspberry Pi. He’s set up a website to share his progress, and yesterday I was pointed at a project video he’d made.
Kids like Nicholas are the whole reason we started the Raspberry Pi project: seeing videos like this makes our day, and makes our job feel so worthwhile. Nicholas started with Codecadamy and a desire to control more of the world in Minecraft: Pi Edition (he’s a big fan of Martin O’Hanlon’s Stuff About Code, particularly the Minecraft bits, and Martin has been giving him pointers in his Minecraft work), and he’s now building bigger and bigger projects, learning Python, Ruby and some PHP.
Learning to program as a kid comes with its own set of difficulties. Nicholas’ baby sister threw the entire contents of his hardware kit (which I think was this Adafruit one – let me know if I’ve got that right, Nicholas) into the family LEGO box, and while he was able to retrieve most of the pieces, the light-sensitive photocell never turned up. But Nicholas is a resourceful sort, and found a project in which he could use all the other bits.
So here is Nicholas’ passcode reader. It’s great to see him SSH’ing into the Pi, writing Python, and learning electronics and binary, all in one project. Next stop: soldering!
Thanks Nicholas: and let us know if you do write up a tutorial like you mentioned!
Are you a kid who is learning about computing with the Pi at home? Do you have any projects you’d like to show us? You can get in touch with us via the contact page.
Wherever you are in the world, you’ve probably heard something about the recent horsemeat adulteration scandal in Europe, where cheap beef mince products like lasagna and frozen burgers turned out to be anything up to 100% horse. In Abattoir! you’ll be making sure that only delicious cow makes it into the mincer. Have a look at this video for some gameplay.
If you’re a Minecraft fan and a Pi owner, you’ve probably already downloaded a copy of Minecraft: Pi Edition. But are you getting the most out of the fact that you can modify the world with code in-game?
If you’re not sure where to start, or if you’re looking for ideas (sometimes being given a blank canvas can be lousy for getting the brain sparking), Martin O’Hanlon at the marvellous <Stuff about=”code” /> has several tutorials on Minecraft: Pi Edition, from installing the game to using the Minecraft API to build wonderful things, like magical bridges that appear where’er you walk, games of hide and seek, and in-game analogue clocks.
The hide and seek hack is easy and rewarding: with a little coding you’ll be able to get the game to hide a diamond somewhere in the world for you to find, and to give you hints of the warmer/colder variety.