SkillsBuild STEM Labs Part 1

pi-topCEED Coding with Minecraft


Minecraft Pi is a version of Minecraft developed for the Raspberry Pi. It is considered a 3D sandbox game that has no specific goals to accomplish, allowing players a large amount of freedom in choosing how to play the game.  Minecraft Pi utilizes Python coding.


Topics: Coding


Length of class: Activities vary in time allotment, but most can easily accommodate a 40 minute class period.


Outcomes: What learners will be able to know, do, or value by the end of the lesson.

  • Students will be able to apply coding elements unique to Python.
  • Students will learn how to execute the appropriate programming code to accomplish a specific goal.
  • Students will be able to identify and explore game developer careers and the skills involved in software development.


Workplace learning skills:


  • Collaboration
  • Analytical thinking

Required Learning Materials/ Resources:

  • Raspberry pi-topCEED (kit)
  • Keyboard and mouse
  • Raspberry Pi 3B+ (circuit board)
  • pi-topSpeaker (for extension activities)
  • Headphones (recommended – not included, for extension activities)

Learning Environment Needs

The unit takes up the typical desktop space as would a normal keyboard, mouse and screen. 

Prework for Educators

Raspberry Pi Safety

Like any piece of electronic equipment, pi-top hardware must be used in the correct way and safety precautions followed. Go over the following safety precautions with students before starting with the Raspberry Pi.

If students drop anything into the modular area of the pi-top, or if an item slides underneath the main Raspberry Pi computer unit students should follow these instructions.

  • Stop working immediately.
  • Shutdown the computer completely and remove the power supply cord. 
  • Ground yourself correctly to discharge any static electricity (more information here).
  • Place the unit on a flat hard surface
  • Try and retrieve the object safely, do NOT use items like metal tweezers.
  • if the object has slid underneath any of the printed circuit boards do not shake the unit in an attempt to dislodge it. Instead, gently remove the circuit board using a screwdriver and retrieve the object. 
  • Do not jam, scrape or prod any internal part of pi-top with a tool, doing so may damage the unit.


Because heat can build up, students should not touch any part of the Raspberry Pi or Hub while using the pi-top. During normal usage pi-top’s built-in heatsink thermal pad and Cooling Bridge will dissipate any excess heat generated by the Raspberry Pi 3B or 3B+. In certain circumstances (sustained intensive heavy processor usage) students should be aware that the Raspberry Pi CPU might become hot. If this happens, stop what processes you are running and let the unit cool down. Furthermore, all Raspberry Pi computers have built-in thermal throttling, which restricts the processing power of the main CPU chip if it’s becoming too hot.

Part 1: Intro (15 mins)

(Optional) Check for prior knowledge of Raspberry Pi and Python  with the KWHLAQ worksheet. Ask questions like “What is Data Science?” “What does Raspberry Pi do?”


Students will begin by running Minecraft Pi, by opening it from the pi-topCEED desktop menu or typing minecraft-pi in the terminal. When Minecraft Pi has loaded, students need to click on Start Game, followed by Create new. *The containing window is offset slightly. This means to drag the window around students have to grab the title bar behind the Minecraft window.


Students familiarize themselves with Minecraft Pi through Getting Started with Minecraft Pi.


Part 2: Activity (time varies)

Students are now in a game of Minecraft! They can go walk around, hack things, and build things!


To do so, with Minecraft running, and the world created, students need to bring their focus away from the game by pressing the Tab key, which will free their mouse. Students will now open Python 3 from the application menu and move the windows so they’re side-by-side.


Students can either type commands directly into the Python window or create a file so they can save their code and run it again another time.

If they want to create a file, go to File > New window and File > Save. They’ll want to save this in their home folder or a new project folder.


Students can now follow the program prompts to enter Python codes to engage within the program. Advanced codes available through Minecraft API.

Students can also create their own games.  One example is Whack-a-Block. They can follow the directions here Create a Whack-a-Block Game in Minecraft.

Part 3: Extension

Part 4: Career Focus (30 mins)

Check for prior knowledge. Ask students questions like “What kinds of careers could use Raspberry Pi?”, “What kind of industry could benefit from using Python coding?”


In this day of technological advancement, the usage of computers has been incorporated into just about every field, including music. Therefore, many careers that deal with music, from its creation to implementation in the media, will involve computerization. If you are interested in how you can intertwine the two fields into a productive career, some options are listed below.


Use career graphic organizer as students go through these articles:


Additional Resources/ Deeper Learning


Assessment/ evaluation

Based on application, how I will I know learners have met intended outcome?

— KWHLAQ worksheet

—Career Graphic Organizer

— Teacher may wish to create a rubric for activity portion

Summary/ conclusion

How will I bring lesson to an effective closing?

— Check for understanding and answer any subsequent questions

— Emphasize key information

— Ask the question “What information did you learn that you think you will find important 3 years from now?”

— Remind students that there are more relevant courses on SkillsBuild for Students to continue their learning


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