January 26, 2023

My son is in kindergarten this year. One of his friends is apparently doing a coding class as an extracurricular activity, so I was tasked with investigating something for him. I didn’t really want him to start anything so early, because I feel like there is more potential for burning out if you start too young or if it gets too formal and serious.

Anyways, I did a search for Minecraft and coding because apparently his old classmate was doing something like that and my son loves Minecraft, so that would be a good fit. Code.org has a Minecraft module. I quickly went through one or two to see what it was all about.

Funnily enough, it’s very similar to “LOGO.” Logo was probably my first experience with giving a computer instructions, unless you count something like telling MS DOS to start a game from a floppy. Basically, you start with a turtle in the middle of a screen, and you give it instructions like “fd 40” for moving it forward 40 pixels. There are other instructions for turning, lifting the pen up and down, repeating, etc. Looking back on it, I never really considered that computer programming but I suppose it was at a basic level.

Obviously things have come a long way since then and now you can move a Minecraft character around, shear wool from sheep, write if statements about whether there is lava in front of you, etc. That’s probably more interesting than moving a turtle around on a screen, but maybe it’s just relative–back then there was nothing else fancier to compare it to. One big difference is that the UI supports drag and drop so you don’t actually have to type commands to tell it what to do. That’s probably for the better since my son can’t read or write yet.

I hope he enjoys it. I was lucky to find it early on and stuck with it since I found it fun. A lot of people struggle to find a passion like that.