‘Hacking’ and working with BeetleBlocks

Students at Churchill Park School, Marist College and St Heliers School are coding with our tutor Peter Miller. Here’s a summary of the work that he’s doing with his classes in 2018.

Beetle Blocks screenshot


  • Students will be working with 3D environments during the 2018 terms.
  • There is no set programme for a term, rather the students are encouraged to explore and progress, from whatever their current abilities, at their own pace.
  • A note of the topics/areas touched on will be made available to parents after each week of lessons.
  • Students are encouraged to manage and limit their own screen time.


Core concepts that will be covered/reinforced throughout any term include:

  • Hacking, problem solving and referencing.
  • Control flow.
  • Values, variables, lists, objects, properties, hierarchies.
  • Conditionals, predicates and boolean logic.
  • Functions / Custom blocks.
  • Messages and events.
  • Encapsulation.

beetleblocksDuring Term 1, students are learning about:

  • Hacking (as in Hacker spaces, not as in the movies!) as the primary learning methodology — the way they teach themselves how to code.
    • This will be ongoing/reinforced throughout all sessions this year, and students are encouraged to hack at home; this can be continuing work from class, or their own projects/coding environments.
    • Students used Beetle Blocks (www.beetleblocks.com) for their hacking in class. Any language/environment can and should be used by students outside of class to hack – transferable skills/experience is a crucial part of the learning process, such as Scratch, Tynker, p5js, and Processing.
    • The principles of hacking are:  Undo-able changes; One change at a time; Small changes; Not perfectionism (working on lots of aspects, not just one small area); Small prototype projects (not one big project); and Collaboration with and supporting their peers.
  • Bugs and Glitches.
  • Cursors (aka Beetles), Movement, rotation, scaling and object creation in 3D.
  • Control Flow: Sequences and Repeat Loops.

Any questions, get in touch at info@codechampions.nz

Code Champions is now official ‘extension activity’ at SKC

We’re delighted that Saint Kentigern College has decided Code Champions can be added to a student’s report as an ‘extension activity’, similar to the Duke of Edinburgh Scheme. This is great news!

It does not replace expectation of official extra-curricular involvement by College students – they still need to complete existing requirements – but the coding class will be recognised as an additional activity.

At the end of each term, we will provide SKC with a list of names of those who successfully complete the course (however, those who sign up but do not finish, or only partially attend, will not be eligible).

Quick guide to installing Unity

unity3d-logoFor those of our students using Unity, you can download the software to practise your coding at home. The class tutor Ken Ward’s prepared a quick guide to doing this, as follows:

IMG_3229Using the thumbdrive

Open the thumb drive and navigate to \Installers\Unity.

  • Run ‘UnitySetup64-2017.3.0f3.exe’ and follow the steps to install unity.
  • Then run ‘UnityDocumentationSetup-2017.3.0f3.exe’
  • Then run ‘UnityStandardAssetsSetup-2017.3.0f3.exe’
  • Finally run ‘vs_community__1363948043.1516091709.exe’


Without using the thumbdrive

Alternatively, you can download and install from: https://unity3d.com/get-unity/download


Create an account

When using Unity for the first time you will need to create an account. Just use the personal/free licence as this is free for students.

Visual Studio will also ask you to make login or create a Microsoft account, but you can just skip this as an account is not required. When installing Visual Studio make use to select the Unity Tools Option and uncheck the option install Unity 2017.2.0f3 which will appear after selecting unity tools.


We hope this helps. If you’re having trouble with this process, get in touch (info@codechampions.nz) or ask Ken at a class, and he’ll be happy to help.

The Code Champions team