Canyon Arch Bridge

11-13 yrs old

14-18 yrs old

Computer Science

Math & Economics


Students work in teams and use Code Builder to build two halves of an arch bridge across a canyon.

avatar Submitted By: John Miller

January 25, 2019


  • Critical Thinking

Supporting Files

World File

World file for student use

Learning Objectives

  • Students will understand how to use several builder commands.
  • Students will understand the role of position in placing blocks.
  • Students will learn to write code to create large structures.
  • Students will analyze data from tests to determine similarities and differences among two design solutions and identify the best combination of characteristics to better meet the criteria for success. (NGSS MS-ETS1-4)

Guiding Ideas

Before beginning, students should have some experience and success with writing simple code using Code Builder and should be able to access builder commands under the advanced tab. Students may find this reference page for builder commands useful.

The builder is an invisible tool that students can use to construct large and complex structures quickly using carefully written code.

Designing, testing, and comparing solutions through coding promotes a deeper understanding of three-dimensional space.

Student Activities

There are two approaches to completing this challenge. Some students should solve the design problem using one method and the other group will take a different approach. At completion of the activity, the two approaches showed be compared and shared to finish the bridge.

Using builder commands, students are to construct an arch bridge across a canyon connecting two rail lines.

Use the large, flat areas adjacent to the canyon to work out the code.

Several granite blocks are located at the midpoint between the canyon walls. To create an arch, students will need to determine the number of blocks to complete the row or column.

Inspect the connection points across the canyon. Starting on one side requires a horizontal approach to solving the challenge while the other end necessitates a vertical approach to construction.

Bedrock blocks identify the foundation upon which the granite blocks should be placed vertically and the abutment where the blocks should be placed horizontally.

If working vertically and starting at the abutment, the sequence of blocks placed in columns is

13, 12, 11, 10 . . . 3

If working horizontally, starting at the top of the abutment and working down, the sequence of blocks placed is

11, 11, 11, 10, 9, 8 . . . 1

Students should experiment with writing code that will complete the entire (half) section of the bridge when run, but testing in small segments is encouraged.

Commands like these might prove useful in completing the challenge:

  • on chat command “name”
  • builder turn [right, left]
  • builder face [west, east, north, south]
  • builder move [forward, back, up, down, left, right] by num
  • builder trace path from mark with <granite>

Performance Expectations

Students will demonstrate their understanding of builder commands by first building half of an arch bridge across a canyon.

Next, they will acquire and run the code to complete the bridge from classmates who approached the challenge differently.

Students will initially test their code using the flat work areas provided, leaving behind a record of learning attempts.

Students will lay track across the bridge and take a minecart journey from one side to the other.

Students should be able to answer the following questions:

  • How are builder commands useful in Minecraft?
  • What team produced the shortest code and what was their strategy?
  • What was your biggest code challenge and how did you overcome it?


  • Critical Thinking

External References

Supporting Files

World File

World file for student use