In July 2018 we had a three-day workshop for kids between the ages of 9 and 12 years old, taught by Matthew Clough-Hunter of LA Makerspace and facilitated by Illyanna Logan and AnnMarie Hurtado, about doing coding in Minecraft. Kids enjoyed playing the game but also built programs called “turtles” that could accomplish a large series of tasks and make building or mining easier. They also learned how to build items they need using various kinds of code as well. They got very creative with the kinds of tasks and challenges they had to program their turtles to do. By the third day, kids were focused on troubleshooting or problem-solving to perfect their worlds. They dug deeper into the coding aspects of the program and were determined to make their visions come true!
Here are the photos and videos from each day. You’ll notice that by Day Four, the emphasis was much less on teaching the group and much more on kids perfecting their own individual coding projects, or simply playing the game in more advanced ways, as Matthew moved farther each day from the role of “teacher” to “supporter” helping the kids to solve their own problems. For example, one of the projects was to make a turtle that would mow a lawn. It had to detect whether there was grass underneath it and then “mine” (cut) the grass if there was. There was one student who was trying to make her lawnmower turtle mow a very complex-shaped lawn, and kept running into a problem that caused her turtle to either go in circles or move away off of the lawn. We learned from that, that sometimes changing the environment, the shape of the lawn, is just as necessary for making the code work as changing the code itself. But we were all so proud of that girl for sticking with it for several days to solve the problem as much as she could on her own.
The kids also had lots of fun playing the game and building beautiful worlds to play in. They worked in pairs, and took turns being the “driver” and the “navigator”–both important roles because both are actively involved in doing the coding. I liked this concept for collaborative coding, and will use it again in future coding club programs.
Many thanks to LA Makerspace, Illyanna Logan, and Matthew for making this happen!