Microsoft’s partnership with Code.org, and the specially created Hour of Code Minecraft tutorial, has the bold ambition of helping millions of young people to start coding. Microsoft CEO, Satya Nadella went back to school in the US and here in London, the Prime Minister, the Education Secretary and a number of other MPs enjoyed their very first experience of coding in the Minecraft World this week.
Parents and teachers will be well aware of the love which exists for Minecraft, which is exactly why Microsoft used this environment to encourage as many kids as possible to start coding. It was great to see Prime Minster David Cameron and the Secretary of State for Education, Nicky Morgan, host a reception at Downing Street on Tuesday and get to grips with the tutorial themselves. Alongside pupils from Eastlea Community School in London, who were slightly more familiar with Minecraft, they both began their own journey.
On Wednesday, pupils from Eastlea brought their BBC micro:bits to Westminster and taught Members of Parliament some invaluable digital skills. MPs completed the Minecraft Hour of Code tutorial at an event in Parliament, and also learnt from members of Eastlea’s Year 7 class who talked them through a few of their amazing BBC micro:bit projects.
Neil Carmichael MP, Chair of the Education Select Committee, who completed his Hour of Code yesterday said “It was great to see these pupils using the Hour of Code tutorial to teach MPs, I’m fairly sure it was the first experience of coding for many of my colleagues! The use of Minecraft is a good example of how we need to engage with young people on this topic and encourage them to learn digital skills, because those skills are going to be invaluable for them as they progress through school and explore the world around them.”
Chinye Jibunoh, Principal of Eastlea Community School, said “Our Year 7 pupils have had quite a week, showing MPs and even the Prime Minister their coding skills and their BBC micro:bit projects. We’re really proud of what they’ve learnt in a relatively short space of time, and what they’ve been able to create with this technology. The BBC micro:bit, and tools like the Minecraft tutorial, have grabbed our pupils attention because they’re exciting, they’re different and at the end of the day they’re fun.”
The events this week showed just how engaged people can be by computer science and the creative power of technology. The reality is that computational thinking is now of vital importance, and with more than two million trying it, the hope is that the Minecraft Hour of Code tutorial will have sparked an interest that lasts a lifetime.