Minecraft Hour of Code Teaches Kids the Basics of Programming
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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 What Is Computer Science? What Is Computer Science? In the simplest of terms, computer science is the study of information ("data") and how it can be manipulated ("algorithms") to solve problems, mostly in theory but also in practice. Read More 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.

What Is Minecraft Hour of Code?

Through a partnership between Microsoft and Code.org, a Minecraft Hour of Code was first introduced in 2015. Designed for kids aged six and older, the tutorial offers the basics of programming within the Minecraft platform. After that, gamers complete 14 challenges based on what they’ve have learned.

As Microsoft CEO Satya Nadella explains:

“A core part of our mission to empower every person on the planet is equipping youth with computational thinking and problem-solving skills to succeed in an increasingly digital world. With ‘Minecraft’ and Code.org, we aim to spark creativity in the next generation of innovators in a way that is natural, collaborative and fun.”

To date, there are three Minecraft tools for would-be coders, including Minecraft Adventurer, Minecraft Designer, and the newest, Minecraft: Hero’s Journey. Each lesson begins with an introductory video.

Minecraft Adventurer

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.

Take a look:

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.

Created by Google and released as open source What Is Open Source Software? [MakeUseOf Explains] What Is Open Source Software? [MakeUseOf Explains] "Open source" is a term that’s thrown around a lot these days. You may know that certain things are open source, like Linux and Android, but do you know what it entails? What is open... Read More under the Apache 2.0 license, Blocky uses blocks that link together which you can drag and drop to write programs. Underneath, you can generate JavaScript, Python, PHP or Dart code. It can also be customized to make the code in any textual computer language.

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.

Minecraft Hour of Code

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.

Confused? Minecraft Adventurers makes it simple to undo your changes. Use the Start Over button at the top-right corner of your workspace and begin again.

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.

Take a look:

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,

Take a look:

Final Thoughts on Minecraft Hour of Code

Though promoted for children aged six and older, the Minecraft Hour of Coding is worthwhile for anyone with a desire to learn more about coding. It’s for this reason that each Hour has been designed for use in a classroom and for individual use.

Minecraft Hour of Code

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.

Are you looking for more ways to learn to code? Check out these best games for learning how to code 10 Best Free Coding Games to Test and Build Your Programming Skills 10 Best Free Coding Games to Test and Build Your Programming Skills Coding games help you learn faster with hands-on practice and experience---plus they're a fun way to test your programming skills! Read More .

Image Credit: AllaSerebrina/Depositphotos

Explore more about: Minecraft, Programming.

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  1. Debbie
    April 24, 2018 at 4:42 pm

    Alex or Steve? Yeah, when I code I always take on a male persona... not.

    • Robert
      April 29, 2018 at 5:36 pm

      Alex is a female persona not male.

      • Debbie
        April 30, 2018 at 12:50 am

        My first comment was kinda harsh, was not intended that way. Why not Alexa so it's obvious to girls or women at first glance? Just curious.