Python Programming with Minecraft Pi: Early Draft

by arghbox

minecraft

When I first heard that Minecraft would be released for the Raspberry Pi I punched the air. The nice people at Mojang had just given me the perfect platform to teach students programming: a creative platform. One where students are encouraged to explore ideas in a familiar environment, while seeing the tangible results of their efforts.

Minecraft Pi uses an application programmer interface (API for short) that allows programmers to interact with a Minecraft game world. Students can combine the API into their own Python programs to do things like place blocks, teleport the player or access hidden features like chat. For example they can create a castle with code in a few seconds, instead of building it by hand (which takes ages). Using Minecraft Pi to help students learn programming has the potential to be very engaging and effective.

That is why I have developed a book of resources to teach Python programming with Minecraft Pi.

The Book

The book consists of a series of exercises and documentation developed to test a student’s understanding of Python and also develop their problem solving skills. Each chapter uses differentiation, challenging students with more complex exercises as they progress and offers a number of extension tasks for every exercise. The content was developed to be used alongside Codecademy’s Python track and has documentation for each concept introduced.

Codecademy is my favorite resource for learning to program. Instead of rewriting the wheel, I decided that students should complete a Codecademy lesson and then attempt the corresponding exercises in the book. The exercises draw from the same Python concepts introduced at Codecademy, yet require the students to develop stronger problem solving skills.

The book is free to use and is open source. This means you can share it with whoever you want without giving me any money. The source of the book will be available in the near future if you want to modify it. A teacher’s answer book and an API reference sheet are also included.

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. After previewing the book to a number of people at the York Raspberry Jam, the demand was so great that I decided to release it as soon as possible so that people had access to these resources. 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.

Any constructive feedback is very appreciated. Please let me know if you decide to use the resources in the classroom or in a club as I would love to hear about it. Feel free to adapt the resources to your own needs and please share them with others.

Download

The files are really small despite the number of pages. Small enough to fit on a floppy disc. I’d recommend copying the main book onto each student’s Raspberry Pi, keep the teacher notes to yourself (which contain all the answers) and print a copy of the cheat sheet for each student.

Student Exercise and Reference Book
Teacher Notes

API cheat sheet

Other Minecraft Pi Resources

Martin O’Hanlon’s Minecraft Pi Programs

David Whale’s Minecraft Pi Flashcards

MCPIPY – Python Programs

Just to note, I am not affiliated with the Raspberry Pi foundation, Mojang/Minecraft or Codecademy. They probably don’t endorse these resources.

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