It is an established fact that kids as young as six years can code. When many read such statements their minds by default jump to think that only the kids in Europe, the US and probably Asia are gifted to start learning coding that early. This Computer Science Education Week that is running from December 5th to December 11th 2016 Microsoft in collaboration with Code.org intend to change this mindset under the #HourOfCode global movement.
Hour of Code (Twitter hashtag #HourOfCode) is a global movement meant to inspire millions of young people to try an Hour of Code and to learn basic computer science skills. To help promote the #HourOfCode and consequently the love of computer science as a career among young people, as young as six year olds, Microsoft and Code.org have collaberated with governments, NGOs, schools, educators and other stakeholders to implement the Hour of code programme in schools and resource centers across the globe.
In Kenya for instance, Microsoft is running the Hour of Code everyday of the Computer Science Education Week in resource centers across Nairobi. Yesterday for instance Kachwanya.com took part in the #HourofCode at Kangemi Resource Centre where we were able to witness kids across Kangemi estate learn how to code with the newly released “Mincecraft Hour of Code Designer” running under a basic programming software called Scratch.
The Minecraft Hour of Code Designer is designed for anyone aged 6 years and above and aims to demystify the basics of computer science by introducing players to basic coding in a fun, simple environment, guided by video tutorials.
When a student, whether he or she has zero computer know-how and experience, undergoes the one hour of code with the Minecraft Hour of Code Designer, he or she is capable of acquiring the basic problem-solving and critical thinking skills required in today’s tech fueled world.
Microsoft and Code.org did not choose Minecraft as the platform for introducing the young ones into coding by random chance. They based their decision on the fact that Minecraft is one of the most popular video games globally, with over 100 million players around the world. Additionally, Minecraft is one the few video games loved by both male and female players with over 38% of Minecraft players being women – thus Microsoft and Code.org expect that the Minecraft Hour of Code Designer should be able to bring more women and girls into the world of computer science. Lastly, the average age of Minecraft players is 29, signifying that the game is a great tool for allowing teachers and students to meet in the middle.
The involvement of Microsoft in the Computer Science Education Week is not limited to the #HourofCode. According to the statement sent to us, Microsoft will also lead thousands of youth coding events in more than 60 countries and these events include hundreds of free workshops hosted by Microsoft Stores across the globe. The coding events and the free workshops are tailored to provide the youth with the opportunity for hands-on learning and technology experience outside of the classroom.
The youth ought to take advantage of the opportunities being offered by Microsoft, not only during this Computer Science Education Week, but every other day of the year too. This is because, if we were to take US as the best case scenario, there are about 600,000 job openings that need computer science graduates, yet the country witnesses about 40,000 computer science graduates every year. This implies that globally the job market for computer scientists is not saturated, and as the world become more technologically integrated and Artificial Intelligence powered, the only field where graduates will be assured of jobs is in the computer science career.
Even though Microsoft and Code.org are doing a good job in promoting computer science and coding during this year’s Computer Science Education Week, you too can do something to encourage the young ones to learn coding. As a parent, or even a person with access to a kid, you can take your time and show a kid or two how to code by taking them through the Minecraft Hour of Code tutorial that is available for free at http://code.org/minecraft through any browser, tablet or smartphone.