Mod Minecraft with Backyard Hackers

MinecraftBackyard Hackers is a seasonal program that offers a variety of code-based classes sure to stimulate your child's mind!  From beginner level classes to more advanced game and mod by coding classes, there is something for everyone!

Run entirely by local school teacher John Hendrick, Backyard Hackers teaches computer science through the creation of fun games and projects. The classes introduce Java programming, Minecraft, role-playing video games, and the Unity game engine.  Class content is age appropriate, serving kids as young as 6, up through high school age.  These opportunities increase a child's comfort with computer science, helping them feel confident enough to continue to explore CS in high school and beyond.  With a focus on creating games, kids remain more engaged, by focusing on the fun things they can do through coding.

"These classes are the best thing I do all summer." - Patrick, Age 12

"The excitement and energy is palpable during the classes.  Kids bounce in, excited to find out what's next.  I know that we'll be able to continue to give them something to look forward to in future summers." - John Hendrick, Founder / Instructor

2018 Schedule

Class Descriptions

Recommended Ages: 6+

Modding for Little Crafters
This is a simpler version of our most popular class, for the youngest hackers.  Ever wanted to paint your own zombie?  Feel your way around advanced graphic design programs by designing your own tools, creature and blocks, and even animate in Minecraft! Students learn how to draw, select, erase, smudge, and shade.  They'll create their own simple mod of Minecraft that can be played on a PC or Mac.

Scratch 1
A beginner-level class using the Scratch programming language. Students will drag and drop blocks into position to build their code. During the class, we'll create a four games that students will be able to share with friends and family using the Scratch community! This class is ideal for anyone who's interested in seeing what coding is all about. Students as young as 8 and as old as 13 have thoroughly enjoyed this 5 hour class.

Play Minecraft
We'll be your helpful older sibling, with less bickering.  Minecraft is a dense, complicated game.  Let us make it less mysterious for your kiddo.  In fact, we're encouraging parents to sign up with their kids! One registration will be necessary for each person coming along.  Come learn how to play with your child (or leave them at home).  We'll show new Minecraft players how to move and interact with the world, craft necessary items, fight the different mobs and explore the Nether and End.  Maybe we'll even take a crack at defeating the Ender Dragon!

Recommended Ages: 9+

Mod Minecraft 1
Our most popular class!  Don't just play Minecraft!  Become a modder!  Use the Java programming language to make your own materials, armor, tools, biome and mobs!  No experience is necessary to share your unique Minecraft world with your friends!

Mod Minecraft 2
The direct sequel to our original modding class!  Students will work on the same mod they've developed this summer (yes, they should have taken Mod Minecraft 1 this summer.)  Continue your modding adventure as we make throwable items (that could explode), a simple custom structure, tame and mod the dragon, while riding it and shooting fireballs (that could explode), animate tools, and build our own dimension (that could explode -- not really, well maybe.)

RPG Maker 1
Take a Hero's Journey.  This might be the most fun class available.  Create your very own role-playing game in the style of Final Fantasy VI or Pokemon.  Build your own world, have your own adventure, and tell your own story! In this game-design and story-telling class you'll create your very own game that you can share with friends and family.  They'll be able to play your game on their own computers!

Command Blocks: An Adventure
Learn how to use special, double-secret command blocks in Minecraft to create a simple adventure and tell a story.  Command blocks allow users to take control of their world, and we'll show the kids the programming skills necessary to take control.  In this class, the kids will tell a heroic story of a player who overcomes obstacles on the way to defeating a terrible monster who's been terrorizing a village -- all in Minecraft!  Best of all, they'll be able to continue developing their story at home on their own Minecraft account.  Let life be an adventure this summer!

Minecraft Server Design: Plugins
Playing online is a blast.  Have you ever wondered how most of the special features are carried out?  Why do online servers have more commands?  How does teleporting work?  Why was that zombie able to catch up to me, and why did it drop a diamond sword?  This is class to take if you want to unlock those secrets.  In Server Design: Plugins the kids will use one of the most current versions of Minecraft and the Java programming language to create their own plugins, which could then be used on their own servers.  (We will not be setting up servers for the students at home.)  This is the class you've been waiting for.

Recommended Ages: 12+

Unity: Platform Game
In this class, students will use the Unity Game Engine to make very simple games like Super Mario Brothers or Metroid.  Students will learn how to import and use resources, program their games and create the menu systems they'll need.  The games will be shareable outside of class and could be passed along to friends and family.  This is one of the most satisfying classes we have.  The games look surprisingly professional and well-done.

Mode Minecraft 3
Let's break Minecraft!  This is not a sequel to the other modding classes.  This is a new experience with much more coding from scratch.  We break out a newer, more complicated version of Minecraft for our most involved modding class.  If they've taken one of the other Java programming classes, the kids should be ready for this one, as long as they can type about 20 words per minute without looking at their fingers.

In this class, the kids will learn about core Java concepts like inheritance, constructors, and more conditional logic.  They'll extend and override Java libraries while doing things like creating mounts, messing with the world and modeling new mobs!  This class is for the most adventurous hackers.

Ready to become a Backyard Hacker? See full class details and register online here!


Department Contact:
Phone: (920) 832-5905
Fax: (920) 993-3103

Mailing Address:

100 N. Appleton St.

Appleton, WI 54911




Office: Monday - Friday

8:00 a.m. - 4:30 p.m.


"Building communities and enriching lives where we live, work and play."

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