Tag Archives: Minecraft

Using Minecraft: Raspberry Pi Edition to get kids computing

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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.

Raspberry Pi Minecraft server

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The first question people usually ask upon meeting me is, “Can you ride a pig?” I’ve never worked out if they mean in Minecraft or in real life. The second question is, “Can you run a Minecraft server on the Raspberry Pi?” The answer to both is, of course, “Yes”.

Edwin Jones (EdwinJ85 on the forums) explains how he made his.

You can get the original instructions by Jim Bruges here.

This does take some techincal nous — but you’ve had all day to install Raspberry Pi Minecraft and play, you should be experts. What I really liked about Edwin’s blog are his final comments. Whether you are hacking Minecraft or building a media server or sending them into near space or messing about in Scratch, this is why we do what we do:

You really have to admire the whole idea of the Raspberry Pi. They are brilliantly cheap, low power servers and whilst I may not have learned much about coding with them so far, I sure have learned a lot about the world outside of Windows, and just how much you can get out of very low priced hardware. The Pi represents a great deal of opportunity for all sorts of people with the ideas for all sorts of projects. I implore you to think of your own and give it a go, you won’t regret it.

And with that Manic Mineday has ended. Normal service will be resumed shortly. Goodnight.

Minecraft Snake arcade machine

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You thought that we’d finished, didn’t you? You thought that I’d gone to bed to dream of building diamond cubes using nested loops. Think again! Tobias Hübner tells us how he has been using Raspberry Pi Minecraft in the classrooom (including interfacing using the GPIO pins) .

In particular Tobias has produced some fantastic documentation, ostensibly for teachers but in fact it’s a relly good read in general covering topics such as how computers work, binary, logic gates and, of course, the Raspberry Pi and Minecraft programming. It’s in German only at the moment, but it’s Creative Commons so you know what to do ;)

I just read your blog post and wanted to let you know that I use mineceraft with my pupils in a school in Germany and they absolutely love it.

When I bought a case from the guys at nwazet [Nwazet make brilliant add-on stuff for the Pi, check them out - clive] I had the idea to turn it into a joystick and then let my pupils play around with it. They came up with the idea to use it in minecraft. We therefore modified the snake game from stuffaboutcode.com so that it runs in a loop and made a little Raspberry Pi/Minecraft-arcade machine. I recorded a video for Fabien, the founder of nwazet, which shows how it runs. You can download it here: www.medienistik.de/case.mp4.

Pictures of the case can be found at www.medienistik.de/case.zip.

I also wrote a little Raspberry Pi-tutorial for teachers in Germany. It has a focus on using minecraft in combination with the GPIO-port. You can find it here: http://www.medienistik.de/Themenheft_RaspberryPi.pdf

I gave a talk about all this at the last Raspberry Pi Jam at the university in Trier/Germany (http://medienistik.wordpress.com/2013/06/15/pi-and-more-treffen-an-der-uni-trier/).  It was also featured in the latest Linux User issue (http://www.linux-user.de/Downloads/LUCE/2013/lu-ce_2013-08.pdf).

Greetings from Germany and thanks so much for the awesome work you`re doing!

No — thank you Tobi.

Minecraft Snake arcade machine

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You thought that we’d finished, didn’t you? You thought that I’d gone to bed to dream of building diamond cubes using nested loops. Think again! Tobias Hübner tells us how he has been using Raspberry Pi Minecraft in the classrooom (including interfacing using the GPIO pins) :

I just read your blog post and wanted to let you know that I use mineceraft with my pupils in a school in Germany and they absolutely love it.

When I bought a case from the guys at nwazet [Nwazet make brilliant add-on stuff for the Pi, check them out - clive] I had the idea to turn it into a joystick and then let my pupils play around with it. They came up with the idea to use it in minecraft. We therefore modified the snake game from stuffaboutcode.com so that it runs in a loop and made a little Raspberry Pi/Minecraft-arcade machine. I recorded a video for Fabien, the founder of nwazet, which shows how it runs. You can download it here: www.medienistik.de/case.mp4.

Pictures of the case can be found at www.medienistik.de/case.zip.

I also wrote a little Raspberry Pi-tutorial for teachers in Germany. It has a focus on using minecraft in combination with the GPIO-port. You can find it here: http://www.medienistik.de/Themenheft_RaspberryPi.pdf

I gave a talk about all this at the last Raspberry Pi Jam at the university in Trier/Germany (http://medienistik.wordpress.com/2013/06/15/pi-and-more-treffen-an-der-uni-trier/).  It was also featured in the latest Linux User issue (http://www.linux-user.de/Downloads/LUCE/2013/lu-ce_2013-08.pdf).

Greetings from Germany and thanks so much for the awesome work you`re doing!

No — thank you Tobi.

Learning Python using Codecademy and Raspberry Pi Minecraft: a resource of great note

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I met Craig Richardson at Newcastle Maker Faire and we got to talking about teaching using Raspberry Pi Minecraft. For a while I’d harboured a plan to write some proper teaching resources for it and had scribbled a few notes but hadn’t had time to develop it. Craig had had the same idea – yes, it was just like Darwin and Wallace – and we decided to get our heads together. Shortly afterwards Craig sent me what he had been working on. And here it is. It’s so good that I haven’t got anything glib to say. It’s a magnum opus.

Craig’s book is one of best teaching and learning resources that I’ve ever seen for any subject. It follows the Python lessons in Codecademy (one of the best online learning resources out there) and then reinforces these skills using Raspberry Pi Minecraft. It’s contemporary and it’s challenging and it’s fun. It’s got a 225 page student book with exercises plus separate teachers’ notes. It provides differentiation and it references the new Computing curriculum. It’s learning by stealth :)

If you are a teacher and are teaching Python in September: please go and get this, your students will thank you. (Would you rather teach loops by printing a times table or by fighting trees?)

Everyone else who would like to learn or improve their Python: please go and get this, it’s not just a classroom resource so don’t be put off.  If you don’t want to work your way through it from the start just cherry pick what you find interesting – it’s an excellent reference and I’ve used it as such in workshops, to great effect.

A treasure detector based on an exercise in Craig’s book. The LED flashes faster as you get nearer to the treasure.

The book isn’t quite finished and Craig says:

Right now the book is incomplete, especially in the later chapters. The vast majority of content is there, some bits are missing, and a lot of it needs polishing. I am just about to start teacher training and won’t be able to dedicate any time to the book for the next few months. … I do plan to finish the book, I’m just not sure when I will have the time. If you are interested in helping to further develop these resources please get in touch.

When it is done it will surely be an essential resource for learning Python on the Raspberry Pi, so if you’d like to help then please contact Craig. Oh — and there’s lots of other good Pi-related stuff on his blog too.

Nicholas, some breadboard and a passcode

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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.

Minecraft in the classroom?

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Last week I ran a short session at Campus London with a roomful of students from local schools. Only one of the students had seen a Raspberry Pi before and only a couple had used a command line interface or seen a computer program. In just over an hour they learned how to set up the Raspberry Pi, did a bit of Linux and then hacked Minecraft using Python. Here’s what they thought of it:

“I used a raspberry pi and it showed me how exciting and useful new technology can be. Also learning simple coding was very useful and made me want to learn more. It made me more interested in technology and coding. It made me really consider my careers options involving technology.” —William

“This has pushed me to finish my game I am currently developing.” —Joseph

“It has made me interested about learning coding. I have realised coding isn’t as hard as I thought.” —Lara

“I want to learn more about programming, because it was really interesting.” —Ellie

“The most important thing I learned was how to use Raspberry Pi.” —Finley

Running minecraft from the command line

“The most important thing I learned was how to change the commands to Mine Craft.” —Harjoat

“We had a go using a device called a Raspberry Pi which let us hack into a game and let us give it commands. It was really fun and exciting to learn all these new things.” —Jasmine

Reading these comments makes me smile, it was a fantastic session and shows what you can learn in short amount of time. A few lessons jump out from the feedback:

  1. When given the opportunity, most young people find computing to be a powerful and exciting thing.
  2. Everyone gets something different out of learning how to tell a computer what to do.
  3. Play is a powerful way to learn and computers are a good way to play.

These lessons are hardly new—it’s where Logo, Scratch and Lego Mindstorms come from—but what has changed is the accessibility and opportunity. With a £30 computer and a free game you can learn computer science in a beautiful, constructionist sandbox. (“Why dig when you can code?” “Are you an Alpha or an Epsilon?” “Hack with your brain, not with your pickaxe.” And other rubbish aphorisms coming soon to a T-shirt near you.) Quite simply, you can teach yourself to think in powerful ways while messing about. I don’t know about you, but as a teacher I think that this is quite profound.

Hacking Pi Minecraft using the API and Python.

I’m going to blog more about Pi Minecraft in future; I think that its potential as a teaching and learning tool is huge.  I’ll be writing lesson plans for it and hopefully not just computing lessons: Martin O’Hanlon’s analogue clock for example would be a brilliant to teach trig and geometry in the constructionist stylee. If anyone out there—teachers, programmers, Notch, whoever—want to help then get in touch. The School of Minecraft has a nice ring to it don’t you think?

P.S. Campus is an amazing place: if you are a tech start-up or entrepreneur (or would like to be!) and can get down there, check it out. I love it.

Hacking the Minecraft world

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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.

You can find code and an explanation of what’s going on over at Stuff About…

And we’re all agreed that the clock is just brilliant (it’s also big enough that you can go and stand on the hands). Again, the project has its own page with code and a spot of discussion.

We’d love to see what you’ve been doing in Minecraft – take some video, or write something about your experiments on your own website, and let us know about it!

Minecraft – it’s here!

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OK – I said I wasn’t going to post again until I was back in the UK, but I just opened my laptop to check my mail at the airport and found something that really couldn’t wait. The folks from Mojang have finished the Minecraft: Pi Edition port, and it’s available for download now. For free.

You can see a post from Mojang about the news on their main blog; they’ve also opened up a Pi Edition blog, where you can find download instructions. I know some of you have already downloaded the beta version that was released in December; if you have, you’ll want to replace it with today’s release, which fixes some bugs and has more features.

To read more about Minecraft on the Pi, check out our previous posts, where you’ll find video demonstrating how coding inside the Minecraft: Pi Edition environment works, a report from MineCon, and more. Thanks to all at Mojang for all the work you’ve done on this, and greetings to those of you who are coming to the Raspberry Pi platform to play this new edition – we’re really happy to be able to welcome all you Minecrafters to the Pi family!

 

Sneak peek – some more Minecraft: Pi Edition video

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As you’ll know (unless you’ve been hiding under a rock, or very busy wrapping presents), we’re expecting to see the release of Minecraft: Pi Edition from Mojang very soon. Daniel Bates, a PhD candidate at the University of Cambridge and the Raspberry Pi Foundation’s Undercover Minecraft Operative, has put together a video demo of how you’ll be able to use code within the Minecraft environment, programming the world to make building faster and easier.

Daniel says:

Note that this is a very early pre-release version, and it is subject to change before release. I’ll show off more features including interactive stuff in future videos.

 

Source code:
http://www.cl.cam.ac.uk/~db434/files/minecraft.py
http://www.cl.cam.ac.uk/~db434/files/setblockdemo.py

 

FAQ:
Q. Can I use X programming language?
A. Any language capable of communicating over the network will work. See the first source file as an example of what’s needed.

 

Q. When is it coming out?
A. No date has been confirmed yet.

 

Q. How much will it cost?
A. Nothing.

 

Q. Will it run on a 256MB Raspberry Pi?
A. Yes – this demo was filmed on an older model, and didn’t use any overclocking.

 

Minecraft: Pi Edition – video demo and more details

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We’ve had loads of questions about the upcoming Minecraft: Pi Edition over the last couple of days. We sent Daniel Bates, one of the University of Cambridge PhD candidates who volunteers for Raspberry Pi, to Disneyland Paris to join Mojang for their announcement at MineCon on Saturday. He got back yesterday with some video and more details about what you’re going to see when a download’s available. Over to Daniel!

What do you get when you combine Mickey Mouse, some game developers from Sweden, and an inexpensive educational computer? Good news all around! I was at MineCon in Disneyland Paris this weekend where we unveiled an early version of Minecraft: Pi Edition.

This new version is based on the Pocket Edition of Minecraft, which you may have seen running on mobile phones and tablets, but has one key difference: you can program it. All you have to do is set up a network connection to the running game, and then you can send text commands to control the world. This makes is possible to program in any language which supports network connections, and you can access the game from any computer which is connected to the Pi. One possible setup is to have a Python prompt and the Minecraft window side-by-side on the Pi.

Minecraft: Pi Edition has been in development for less than a week, but already Daniel and Aron from Mojang have got it running really smoothly. It runs on all versions of the Raspberry Pi with no overclocking necessary. Liz interjects: Daniel F from Mojang emailed me yesterday to say they’re seeing 40fps with a 256MB Pi, although the development work was done on a set of 512MB boards. (They say they want to optimise it more, but I couldn’t detect any slowness in my time with the game.) There’s currently the ability to place any block at any location, ask what type of block is at any location, and keep track of events such as player movements, with more features planned.

We see this as a very exciting way of drawing children into programming. The game can be played with no programming at all. Then, basic programming can be used to place large numbers of blocks in particular patterns to speed up the building process – the audience burst into applause when Daniel wrote a simple loop which simultaneously changed the position and type of blocks being placed, which soon resulted in lava cascading from mid-air and setting fire to the wood below. The more creative programmer will only be limited by their imagination. Want to build a digital clock into the wall of your house which displays the real time? Easy. Want to get back at a friend who stole your precious diamonds? Remove the floor from underneath their feet and let them fall into a pit of lava. The possibilities are endless.

The goal is to release Minecraft: Pi Edition before the end of the year, free of charge. We hope that this will further advance the Raspberry Pi’s aims of getting children excited about computing.