Chapel Hill, NC based online technology education organization, Youth Digital has released its Mod Design 1: Dimensions expansion pack which teaches kids professional-level Java programming skills.
Mod Design 1 lays the foundation by teaching kids aged 8 to 14, professional Java programming as they learn to code with Minecraft.
Throughout the modules, students watch videos and create their own unique Minecraft mods.
27-year-old Justin Richards founded the Youth Digital education platform in 2010 with the goal of inspiring the next generation of creators, not just consumers, of technology.
Richards has already left his mark on over 75,000 students who have learned to make everything from apps, to video games, to animated movies.
These students are our next video game developers, app creators, and movie makers.
What sets Minecraft apart from many other games is the ability of players to 'mod,' or modify, the game by modifying the code that Minecraft is written in.
Modding is many players' favourite part of Minecraft as mods can change almost anything about the game.
This gives players the opportunity to create an entirely new gaming experience inside Minecraft.
The unmodified version of Minecraft contains three dimensions: The regular game world called the 'Overworld', the underground dimension known as the 'Nether', and a floating island called the 'End'.
The Dimensions expansion pack offers students four additional modules that allow kids deepen their knowledge of coding with Java through creating Minecraft dimensions.
Players can customize every aspect of the landscape inside a Minecraft dimension. They can add advanced functionality like artificial intelligence and automatically-generating structures.
It is complicated to build advanced mods. It requires an understanding of basic coding concepts and advanced programming skills.
The expansion pack teaches advanced coding skills and concepts, while allowing kids to complete challenging assignments.
The pack includes a final project for the kids. Students are tasked with creating a customized Minecraft dimension that they can actually play and share with friends.
The course includes; advanced Java programming to write code from scratch; Java development tool, Eclipse to improve efficiency; and complex coding concepts for their mods, like custom portals, automatically-generating structures, and advanced artificial intelligence.
The pack comes with ten hours of instruction, support from online teachers, interactive quizzes and challenges to test learning and a final project which is assessed by an instructor.
"Mod Design 1: Dimensions expansion pack is the number one request we've heard from students and parents," said Justin Richards, CEO of Youth Digital.
"This highly anticipated course builds off of skills learned in Mod Design 1 and gives kids the opportunity to extend their knowledge of Java programming through a customized Minecraft dimension.
It's a great way to deepen students' coding knowledge while creating a really exciting final project they can share with friends."
"Mod Design 1 was my favourite Youth Digital course," said student Ronan Boyarski.
"I already loved making my own Minecraft mods in Mod Design 1, but the expansion pack has taught me so much more about Java programming and how to create almost everything I have ever wanted to mod"