Tuesday 8 July 2014

Beta testing my Scratch/Minecraft worksheets

I'd been wanting to do let some of my younger CodeClub posse loose on a Pi activity for  a while but hadn't been able to find a project that they I thought they'd be able to work through without a huge amount of attention from me - some of my Yr 3s are still really new to coding and Scratch and need a lot of help and encouragement.

So I thought I'd write one myself, based on the simple yet powerful format used in the regular CodeClub materials.  The plan was to lead them quickly through setting up the Pi and then launch them into Minecraft and doing cool stuff with Scratch.

I used the latest version of Raspbian with Scratch2mcpi installed. I swapped out the standard Cat for a Minecraft-inspired sprite (it also makes it easier to quickly make sure they're using the right version of Scratch).

The worksheet then leads them through retrieving the co-ordinates of the player to placing blocks. they start off with a single block, move on to rows and columns then whole walls, finally building a simple castle. Here's a sample page:

The first session worked well with my three beta testers progressing quickly through the first few steps (ably assisted and helped by my young apprentice who'd already done much of the alpha testing).  Meanwhile my younger apprentice and I were able to help out the rest of the group as normal. If nothing else I was pleased that my beta testers managed to resist the urge to just sit and play Minecraft!

I'll see how they get on next week when there'll be more think and less copying involved...

Lesson learned so far:

  1. I think I'll add troubleshooting section to the worksheet. As usual there seems to be a couple of common issues (e.g. having 2 copies of Minecraft running) that cause problems. 
  2. Even though I let the kids set up the Pis, there's still quite a lot of preparation immediately needed before the session to make sure all the cables are available.  Then there's the tidying up at the end.